Peyton Watson
Basketball Long Beach Poly

Long Beach Has A “Moment” At USA Basketball Camp

Colorado Springs is a long way away from Long Beach, but the US Olympic & Paralympic Training Center had a distinct local flavor last week. USA Basketball hosted its annual Junior National Team camp with 73 high school-aged athletes from around the country all in competition to impress USA Basketball coaches, hone their craft, and up their recruiting profile for NCAA programs.

One of the 24 juniors in attendance was Peyton Watson, the Long Beach Poly junior whose profile has been exploding this summer as he’s risen from a relative unknown on the national level to a major recruit whose ranked in the top 50 of his class, nationally, making him Poly’s biggest recruit since the graduation of NBA champion Jordan Bell and Gatorade State Player of the Year Roschon Prince. Watson was joined by his high school coach, Shelton Diggs—but the Jackrabbits weren’t the only Long Beachers in Colorado. 

Jordan legend Travon Bryant, the only McDonald’s All-American from the Panthers’ ranks, is now one of the top assistants with the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets. Bryant will be coaching Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving once the NBA season gets going, but spent last week coaching with USA Basketball and getting a good look at the best young talent in the country, including Watson.

USA Basketball has created a week-long curriculum for the players, since the camp is designed to be for the top young hoopers in the nation. In addition to the on-court work, Watson and the other up-and-comers attended classes on nutrition, the recruiting process, and healthy and safety issues.

The week couldn’t have gone much better for Watson, who has fully arrived as a national recruit at this point. By the time he was on the airplane headed back to his Long Beach home he’d collected offers from Maryland, the University of Washington, USC, and Arizona State.

He also received glowing write-ups from the scouts in attendance, with Rivals basketball directors Eric Bossie and Corey Evans giving him a writeup in their review of the top prospects in the camp.

“Very little was known about Watson heading into the mini-camp,” wrote Bossie and Evans. “Leaving it, the talented junior proved his worth as a national level prospect that will soon become a priority for all of those recruiting him.”

Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.