SVSJ commentary: Mount Si High School’s boys’ basketball program this summer blazing a trail that could be beneficial for local kids for years to come

Mount Si High School’s boys’ basketball program this summer is getting a chance to compete in some very high quality tournaments, and this past weekend’s event was certainly that. All of this competition, and the success the Wildcats are having, will pay major dividends for this program moving forward.

To review, the team did very well at two tournaments earlier this month, winning both the tournament at Union High School in southwest Washington and the one hosted by Oregon State University in Corvallis. This past weekend, they competed in the first-ever Section 7 Team Camp tournament, run by the Arizona Basketball Coaches’ Association, down in Phoenix. This tournament allowed the Wildcat players to showcase their skills in front of college basketball coaches, and let’s just say that we believe the program’s objective coming into this weekend was, well, to establish themselves as a relevant player on the regional scene when it comes to getting kids to the next level, and they, despite finishing 2-2, we think did just that.

They beat a pair of teams from California late Friday and early Saturday to advance into a semifinal against Mater Dei from Los Angeles, an opponent on the level of Georgia’s Pebblebrook, a perennial national-caliber squad, who the Wildcats beat at their holiday tournament last December in arguably one of their five best wins in school history, and perhaps their best in at least 10-plus years. And they gave the Mater Dei boys a battle, falling by just five points to a team that even five years ago the Wildcats in our view would have been lucky to stay with for even one quarter. But that’s the level of improvement and growth this program has had under coach Jason Griffith.

The website Prep Hoops Washington, which covers prep basketball recruiting here in our state, offered this praise of Griffith and the program on Twitter June 11 regarding the team’s participation in this event. “Huge opportunity for Mount Si in this viewing event,” they wrote. “Taking full advantage of new NCAA rules. Coach Jason Griffith on top of everything.” And Griffith is, well, on top of it. And you, as a local basketball parent, should be excited about that if your son will be part of this Mount Si program in the future. Griffith is working hard every day, with a great staff of assistants helping him out including Brad Knowles and Cole Westover, to make sure his athletes have every opportunity to see and be seen, and in this case this past weekend, his athletes made the most of that opportunity. And we’ve told you all weekend how they did that.

As the Arizona Republic noted in a story previewing this tournament last week, the whole point of this particular event was to give college coaches and scouts an opportunity to see athletes up close without the extra layers of middlemen and others which have been a part of the recruiting process for years at the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) club level, layers which have come under intense scrutiny in recent months as the well-publicized federal college basketball corruption case which has ensnared a number of high-profile college basketball programs, including the University of Arizona and the University of Southern California, continues to take shape.

“There is no doubt that the recruiting landscape is changing and it is definitely going to involve the high school coach and kids that play scholastic basketball,” Matt King, who runs the ABCA, the tournament organizer, told the paper. “Whether anyone likes that or not, it is different now and it is probably not going back to the way it was in the near future.”

“Our hope is that the impact of events like Section 7 will shape the landscape of high school summer basketball in this region and across the country. The narrative around high school coaches and their programs for many years has been, ‘You can’t get seen there,’ and, ‘You won’t develop properly there.’” He added, “That is no longer the case. Now you can be seen playing for your high school, and with tournaments like this, the best players can develop properly at their local high school.”

And it seems that this first go-round for the tournament has met with tremendous praise, if any indication of the Twitter traffic about this is correct. Many of the programs who competed this past weekend we’ve seen offer the coaches’ association tremendous kudos on Twitter for this tournament opportunity and this is probably an event that Mount Si will probably start finding itself in more in coming years based on how successful things went this past weekend. And we, too, want to offer the coaches association our kudos too for providing these kids that opportunity to be seen and have success. But at the same time, the success of this event could spawn more states to do exactly this kind of thing, and we would suggest that the Wildcats, with the new gymnasium they’ll have, could actually be able to do something like this themselves.

So perhaps down the road, you could see Mount Si’s boys and girls team up to do something on a much smaller scale than this, but still be able to provide their players and others from around the region that same opportunity the Arizona folks offered this past weekend.

In all, this was a weekend that might be a watershed moment for this Wildcat boys’ basketball program going forward, one that might ensure that upper Valley kids long into the future will have an opportunity to take their talents to the next level.

Rhett Workman

About Rhett Workman

Rhett Workman is the editor of the Snoqualmie Valley Sports Journal. Workman is a veteran sports journalist, having covered Snoqualmie Valley sports for nearly a decade with the Snoqualmie Valley Record newspaper before starting up the SVSJ. Workman's coverage has earned the support and respect of Valley coaches, players, parents and fans, and the SVSJ continues the standard of coverage that Workman brought to the Valley Record.
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