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National No. 1 Prolific Prep hosting top teams in Crush in the Valley event

By Mitch Stephens, 01/20/23, 10:00AM PST


Nine years ago, co-founder Philippe Doherty helped get Prolific Prep of Napa off the ground.

Many figured the basketball academy would never hit full flight. The skeptics were wrong.

Prolific Prep is 21-0 this season, ranked No. 1 in the country by SBLive and this weekend is co-hosting — with Salesian-Richmond — the eighth annual Crush in the Valley Basketball Showcase at Contra Costa College in San Pablo.

Not only are many of the best West Coast basketball academies competing — Prolific Prep plays Dream City Christian-Glendale, Ariz. (20-2) — but a handful of top California Interscholastic Federation squads will take part, including Salesian (14-6) playing defending state Open Division champion Centennial-Corona (18-3), which is led by Duke-bound senior guard Jared McCain.

Those are two of the eight games scheduled Saturday with five more basketball-academy games tipping off Sunday (the CIF doesn’t allow games on Sunday).

McCain and Prolific Prep point guard Aden Holloway, an Auburn signee, are expected to be named to the McDonald’s All-American Game on Tuesday.

“It’s been a magical thing,” said Doherty, a 1995 Sacred Heart Cathedral graduate. “Almost like a Disney movie. So many people have worked so hard to make this happen: the school, the academy, the tournament.”

Players from 23 countries and 21 states have played at Prolific Prep, described by Doherty as an Advanced Placement PE class at a private school. Some 53 families have hosted the players over the years. “They helped change the lives of a lot of young men,” Doherty said.

Among the alums are current NBA players Josh Jackson (the No. 4 pick in the 2017 draft), Gary Trent Jr. (37th pick in 2018) and Jalen Green (No. 2 in 2021).

Prolific Prep alums in college this season include McDonald’s All-Americans Adem Bona (UCLA), MJ Rice (Kansas), Nate Bittle (Oregon) and Nimari Burnett (Alabama). In all there are 22 Prolific Prep alums playing in college, including locals Saba Gigiberia (USF), Kuany Kuany (Cal) and Ibrahima Diallo (San Jose State).

Among those on the current Prolific Prep roster, point guard Trey Green (Xavier), 6-foot-10 post Michael Nwoko (Miami) and 6-8 wing N’Famara Dabo (Brown) have signed with colleges.

They’ll face quite a test in Dream City Christian, which boasts college-bound David Tubek (Memphis) and Gabe Warren (Rice).

As good as Prolific Prep is, the best squad could be Centennial, which besides McCain, features UCLA-signee Devin Williams and Loyola Marymount-bound wing Aaron McBride. The Huskies, long known as a football power, have become a force in basketball. They are ranked 10th nationally by SBLive.