Section 7: Diving into the top dogs, part II
GLENDALE, AZ - The depth of talent at the Section 7 camp this season was unreal. We can unpack it for a week and still never cover it all. That said, we continue to look at the top overall performers from the action.
RELATED: Part I
Tounde Yessoufou, St. Joseph (CA): Let me share my biases before we get into all of these words of adoration. Jaylen Brown is one of my all-time favorite players that I’ve covered at the prep level during my career. Brown was a power wing who challenged his peers with athleticism and physicality. There was a quiet competitiveness and edge to him that felt unique for teenagers.
When I watch Yessoufou, he reminds me of the same kind of player that Brown was as a prep. I was a big advocate for Brown to be the No.1 player in the nation, too. Chew on that one for a while. Yessoufou plays with the same sort of quiet intimidation. We saw that in full force from the California kid. He’s so much stronger than he was on this same stage last season. His powerful frame just bullied through defenders, allowing him to score at such an efficient clip.
We have Yessoufou inside our top 5 and he’ll probably fluctuate in our top 10 for the foreseeable future. The ceiling here is obviously Brown. The floor is Stanley Johnson. Either way, I think we are watching one of prep basketball’s most impressive power wings of the last decade.
JJ Mandaquit, Salt Lake Academy (UT): If you love basketball, like really love it, you’ll enjoy watching Mandaquit play. His traditional style of play is pretty attractive in a setting with hundreds of college coaches watching. A pass-first, level-raising floor general, Mandaquit is the kind of guard who shines in structure and finds the fun in the fundamentals.
Salt Lake Academy has a roster rich with talent and the native Hawaiin knows how to glue it all together. He followed up his stellar showing with USA Basketball here in Phoenix as one of the best floor generals in the event.
His recruitment is trending in the right direction with a host of programs across the country moving him up the recruiting boards. And that is totally justified. Mandaquit was one of the very best guards in an event that boasted terrific guards from top to bottom.
Jase Butler, Branson (CA): I found myself looking at the schedule and trying to find when Branson played next so I could see Butler play again. He’s been a real riser in June and it's easy to see why. His value in the backcourt can not be understated. For basketball purists, Butler is an easy guy to like. He gets it. He knows who he is and plays with a level of confidence that results in positive plays.
Three things stood out to me with Butler: 1. He’s a vocal and positive on-court leader. 2. He’s a tremendous passer. 3. He loves to guard people.
Butler is one of the most coveted mid-major prospects in the nation. Understandably so. I do have to wonder if we see some high-majors dig a little deeper and throw their hat into the mix. July will be an interesting month to chart him and see how things move with his recruitment.
Brayden Burries, Roosevelt (CA): After sitting out the entire CIF season due to transfer rules, it was good to see the class of 2025 guard in action and in person once again. He was great on this same stage last summer and followed it up with an even more impressive showing in 2023.
The first thing that jumps off the page is his competitive spirit. The motor moves fast and his fiery play fueled his production. And there was plenty of production. Burries can score, no doubt. You'd expect that from a 5-star level prospect. That comes with the territory. He put up 34 against a very good Alta team out of Utah. But what really shines through is his intensity on the defensive side of the ball, his rebounding and a drive that doesn't seem to have an off switch.
All of the Pac-12 schools were tracking him in Glendale. So was Kansas.