After seeing Sierra Canyon School (CA) in the Les Schwab Invitational, their depth was certainly on display. Led by All-Tournament performers Bronny James and Ashton Hardaway, with more firepower coming from 2024 Isaiah Elohim, The Trailblazers at times used a platoon system and played a deep rotation. When it comes to top-ranked teams, especially in more populous states, it is tough to overstate how much talent is needed to compete —which is why AJ Swinton’s announcement that he was transferring to Sierra Canyon, even with their current depth, will be so well received.
At close to 6’6” with a wingspan over 7’0”, Swinton is known for his strong frame along with his ability with the ball in his hands. He is a spot-up shooting threat, has an adept mid-range game and he uses his length to bring some defensive versatility. Starting off at DeMatha Catholic (MD), Swinton transferred to Oak Hill Academy (VA) before deciding to join Sierra Canyon in California. We caught up with Swinton in Portland to talk about the decision to move across the country, the latest with his recruitment, and things to look for moving forward with his development.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2024 prospect AJ Swinton, from Hyattsville, Maryland:
Pro Insight: How has it been being out here in Oregon with your new Sierra Canyon team?
AJ Swinton: It’s crazy. I didn’t really ever think, you know, looking back just a few months ago I would be here. But the opportunity opened itself up and now I’m here with the team. I’ve already created such a great bond with all my teammates — Ashton [Hardaway], Bronny [James], Justin [Pippen], all of them. I got a chance to see them — I went down to California on December 20th, just to check it out for a few days, then I came back. So, you know, I love the environment so far, just how the coaching staff is, and it just seemed like the best fit for me and my family, especially with what was all going on in my life at the time.
PI: So what really prompted the move?
AS: So the head coach [Andre Chevalier], he’s from the DMV. So that really prompted it. And then my grandfather was kind of from Cali, so we’ve kind of always had that Cali connection. And Isaiah Elohim, I’ve known him for a long time, so you know, he was kind of able to help set this up for me, too.
PI: How do you see yourself fitting in with this roster on the court?
AS: Someone that can just create, for myself and others. They told me I’ll be able to have the floor to work, which is something I haven’t really ever been able to have before, so that luxury is just something I really needed…and to be able to hear that from a trusting coaching staff, has just really boosted my morale. I just can’t wait to get out there with the team. I’ve been able to get into a few practices, but I can’t wait to actually get out there with the team and play.
PI: As far are your recruitment, who are you hearing from the most as of late and what are some of your most recent offers?
AS: I’ve been hearing from Texas, Creighton, Penn State, Pitt and in my phone most often right now, probably Virginia Tech and Ohio State the most and those are my two biggest offers as of right now.
PI: Any dream schools or offers you’re especially hoping to receive?
AS: Kansas, for sure. Michigan, Villanova definitely. That’s it for right now.
PI: What do you want to focus on in your development so you can bring it to a team at the next level?
AS: Being able to run an offense, definitely. Once I get the ball off a rebound, being able to push it up the court and look for my open teammates as well as creating in the halfcourt. Also, being able to defend people smaller than me — I consider myself to be a really great defender, but I kind of have a little bit of trouble right now defending people that are half my size or faster than me, so that’s what I really want to work on.
PI: What are your goals for the rest of this season with Sierra Canyon?
AS: To win CIF. I haven’t really won a high school championship, yet, so that’s our team’s goal. And other than that, I just want to shock the world and prove myself.
PI: What are your plans for this spring and summer?
AS: I haven’t really had time to think about it much, so I’ll have to get back to you guys on that.