AZ Compass used GEICO Nationals to raise state’s profile

AZ Compass Prep didn’t win the GEICO Nationals high school basketball title it set as its goal this season.  But what it did accomplish this year was to further raise Arizona’s profile on the national stage.

One of a half-dozen basketball ‘academies’ that operate in the Phoenix area, AZ Compass began play during the 2019-20 season and has quickly risen to be not only one of Arizona’s top high school programs, but is now proving its worth on the national stage.

AZ Compass is one of those basketball programs begun for the specific purpose of developing athletes with exceptional talent who are considered among the nation’s best.  They don’t participate in the Arizona Interscholastic Association, the governing body for high school sports in the state, but instead play other national programs around the country.

Last week, the No. 4-seeded Chandler team was eliminated in the semifinals of the GEICO Nationals, considered to be the top high school basketball tournament in the nation.  The Dragons lost to Montverde Academy, 51-49.  Montverde is a Florida program that went on to win the national title by beating Sunrise Christian Academy from Kansas.

Montverde (24-1) is the team that is responsible for Compass’ only other loss this season as the Dragons finished the year with a 30-2 record.  Montverde, ranked No. 1 in the nation by MaxPreps and a favorite to win this year’s tournament, has now won five national championships since 2013 and had a 44-game winning streak going until it was broken in early February.

The Dragons, MaxPreps’ No. 2 team, took Montverde into overtime in the earlier loss.

Compass draws players from around the country, so it’s especially fitting that a local athlete has led the team to this year’s success.  TyTy Washington, a Phoenix native, scored 22 points against Wasatch Academy of Utah in the GEICO quarterfinals, and then was high team scorer again against Montverde, with 15 points.

The 6’3″ point guard averaged 24 points and seven assists this season to earn the MaxPreps designation as Arizona Player of the Year.  He has a boat load of offers from Power Five college programs since de-committing from Creighton four weeks ago.

Losing to Montverde by just two points in a national title tournament has to be considered a victory of sorts for a program that is still in its infancy.

And another big step toward putting Arizona on the map as a can’t-miss stop for college recruiters.