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Event Recap: Section 7

Credit: Arizona Basketball Coaches Association

In the latest edition of ‘P.I. Pulse,’ Pro Insight contributor PD Web calls attention to seven underrated (for now) prospects who showed out at Section 7 earlier this month at State Farm Stadium:

Section 7 turned out to be one of the most valuable in-person scouting events of 2021, so once the 2022 dates were announced, we had it circled on the calendar in Sharpie. With 12 courts going at once, and games going non-stop from 8AM till nearly midnight all weekend, calling it a whirlwind of high school basketball nirvana would be an understatement.

Most reading this are already hyper-aware of highly-touted Section 7 participants like Cameron Boozer, Jared McCain, Dedan Thomas, Jr., Andrej Stojakovic, Dusty Stromer, Caleb Foster, John Mobley, Jr., Carter Bryant, Jacob Cofie, Zoom Diallo, and Blake Buchanan. We’ve spent a lot of time covering all of them over the past year, or so. For the purposes of this article, we’d like to highlight a group of prospects that used State Farm Stadium as more of a ‘coming out party’ of sorts. Now when this group racks up offers surrounding the two July live periods, it won’t be the first time you’re hearing their names.

With that, here are seven names you need to know, following their standout performances at Section 7:

Cedric Lath | 6’10” Big | 2023 | Liberty (NV)

No list of the biggest standouts from Section 7 would be complete without the 6’9” center from the Ivory Coast. Lath is a recent transfer in from Balboa School (CA) that funnily enough, was not listed in the coaches’ packet — leading to a consistent murmur of “who is THAT?” as Lath attempted to tear down the rims at Section 7. The through line for Lath is physicality — everything he does is done with strength and with tenacity. Dunks (and Lath tries to dunk everything) are done at maximum strength, running the floor is a sprint, rebounds are captured with authority. Lath used his advanced frame to set a tone in every Liberty game out in Phoenix.

He was one of the best screen-setters at the event, allowing Dedan Thomas and co. a great deal of separation to start their sets and then rolling hard to offer vertical spacing with his lob catching. Many young and developing bigs have trouble with catching or with their coordinations — and here is also where Lath shone, grabbing seemingly every rebound in his area as well as the tougher passes at the fringes of his catch radius. Being more compact at the 5 offered another benefit, being able to establish a lower center of gravity and challenge the hip level of the taller and thinner bigs in attendance. There are some tradeoffs for Lath’s size in coverage, as he doesn’t quite have the frame to be a true drop big who can have every action funneled towards them at the next level, but the technical footwork and short area quickness that Lath showed in multiple coverages does mitigate the drop concerns on the whole.

Parker Strauss | 6’4” Guard | 2023 | Pacifica Christian (CA)

Strauss has been a local name percolating over the last six months or so who had a breakout showing at Section 7 — after all, there is only so long that a high-feel 6’4” dribble/pass/shoot wing with tools and defensive playmaking can stay under the radar. Playing with Pacifica Christian, Strauss takes on a high decision-making volume, but not a huge usage, comfortably picking his spots as he toggled between a game manager and the primary initiator. Strauss possesses a great level of composure as a creator and really uses his pace of play, high hips and a slithery movement style, creating advantage without a great deal of moves, where he then manipulates defenses with a mix of patient and clever reads to pick out teammates for open looks. He looks to score as needed within the flow of the game, but could easily up his offensive volume given his handle, the shooting mechanics and ability to read defenses. In time, it’s conceivable to see him develop into a movement shooter or a pull-up three shooter off the dribble.

Defensively, Strauss has a big wingspan and massive hands, both of which really aid him as a havoc creator on or off-ball. My first ‘wow’ play was seeing him tag over on pick-and-roll coverage, then make a diagonal rotation on a crosscourt skip, what must have been a 15-foot rotation, to get a pick-six. It’s not an easy read or an easy execution, and he kept making plays (charges, digs, rotations) that demonstrated a high-level feel for scheme and defensive playmaking. The size, wingspan and feel allow for Strauss to be a pressure/deflections defender at the point-of-attack for 1s and 2s, or as more of a rover in help when defending wings.

Pacifica Christian guard Parker Strauss. Credit: Pacifica Christian

DeShawn Gory | 6’5” Wing | 2024 | Oak Hills (CA)

DeShawn Gory has had an explosive rise this summer — not just an impressive weekend at Section 7, but also playing alongside fellow mega-riser Dennis Evans with Inland Empire (CA). Gory is a lanky scorer who profiles to be a primary option as his frame fills out more and he can fine-tune his shooting profile. He has a similar build to Brandon Ingram at the same age: really slender with long arms, quick feet and long strides. What separates Gory from many other long term wings is his mentality…he goes at bigger, stronger, older players with tenacity, despite being young for his class and physically yet to mature. Look no further than the matchup vs. AJ Johnson and Taft, where Gory confidently knocked down the game-winner, after holding his own against the 2023 five-star.

Mixed in with the flashes of high-level talent are quieter moments of really interesting skill, like stride stops into a fadeaway when help side bigs rotate over, jabs and goes that end with rotations and low dump-offs. Off-ball, Gory has shown an interesting ability to scale down — knocking down catch-and-shoot 3s, slashing against closeouts and finding himself easy looks in transition, a blend that allows his development to go multiple different directions and archetypes over his final two years of high school.

Ryan Beasley | 6’0” Guard | 2023 | Dougherty Valley (CA)

Northern California folks are familiar with the scoring flurries of Beasley, who plays for WCE NorCal on the UAA circuit, and Beasley did that for certain at Section 7, but I was most impressed with his development as a show-runner over the last few months. The crafty sub-6’ guard wins with quickness and a great understanding of angles when the ball is in his hands, but Beasley’s rising comfort as a floor general should drastically alter the dynamic of his recruitment. Take the 32-point game I saw from him on Friday: playing off-ball early, he found easy buckets running in transition and as a cutter to allow teammates to get going first and slowly then ramped up his on-ball creation as the game went on. It’s a more mature and synergistic approach to team-running, and one that shows future flexibility on the college floor — you can play him as a 2, as alongside another combo, and should this development continue to progress, as a straight 1.

The bucket-getting is still the main appeal, and Beasley does that in bunches: the jumper goes in as he continues to make positive tweaks to the form, the finishing is advanced and Beasley gets fouled a ton. That last thing is my favorite aspect to his game, as it is the north star of his efficiency: in the half-dozen games I’ve seen live, regardless of usage, context or shots falling, he finds ways to stay efficient through foul-craft and a hard-attacking mentality.