San Diego is better known for producing NFL and MLB stars, but the area has also produced a number of NBA players, including Jared Dudley and Luke Walton. The upcoming college basketball season will feature two basketball standouts from San Diego that have their sights set on the NBA. Brandon McCoy stared at Cathedral Catholic and will be playing for UNLV this season, while Jaylen Hands, after graduating from Foothills Christian, will be heading to UCLA.
Hands follows in the footsteps of current Indiana Pacer T.J. Leaf. Leaf also graduated from Foothills Christian and played one year at UCLA before becoming a first-round draft pick over the summer.
Hands was ranked number 20 in his class by ESPN, the third-ranked point guard and he averaged 29.2 points, 8.0 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game. He concluded his high school career by being named a McDonald’s All-American, and will now play on a UCLA team that has to fill the shoes of superstar Lonzo Ball, after Ball was drafted second in the 2017 NBA Draft.
Many scouts say that Hands’ game is reminiscent of another former UCLA point guard: reigning NBA MVP Russell Westbrook. Hands is an explosive athlete; his senior year was littered by plays that showcased his athleticism with so many of them finishing with a highlight-reel dunk. Hands will join UCLA’s fifth-ranked recruiting class, including three other top 100 recruits—including Lonzo Ball’s younger brother, LiAngelo—and UCLA will again have high hopes entering the year.
The other local recruit is Cathedral Catholic High School’s Brandon McCoy. McCoy was also a McDonald’s All-American, and the 6’11” center is the highest-rated recruit in his California class.
He will be joining a UNLV team looking to turn its program around after finishing at the bottom of the Mountain West Conference last year. They have a promising start with McCoy leading a top-20 recruiting class, and he will likely be counted on to make an impact right away. McCoy averaged 29 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 blocks in his senior year, and although he has yet to play a college game, he is currently projected to be a first-round pick in next year’s draft.
McCoy and Hands both showcased their potential throughout high school, and being named McDonald’s All-Americans attests to the talent that each of them have. With successful freshmen campaigns, Hands and McCoy could both take the one-and-done route to the NBA. Both players opted to play on the west coast, so fans will be able to follow them closely during the season, as many of their games will be nationally televised.