Arizona's CGM Academy Boasts High-Academic Talent

CGM Prep Academyby Z-Smart's Sports Blog

The vast number of American Prep basketball academies are steadily growing.   Each year, a gaggle of new programs devoted to enhanced skills development and exposure are established.  While many institutions are either accurately depicted or unfairly pigeonholed as “basketball factories,” CGM Academy(AZ) enters its inaugural season as one of the more academically enriched programs in the country.

Under Tony Miller, the former Marquette star who dealt out 956 career assists (seventh all time in Division-I history), academic integrity isn’t just emphasized—it’s preached with an iron fist.

                   Tony Miller

Tony MillerFollowing a 10-year professional career which included seasons in top-shelf leagues throughout The Netherlands, Belgium, and England, Miller would prolong his hoops livelihood as strength and conditioning coach and later an assistant coach at theUniversity of Southern California.

Miller also attained his master’s degree and spent time working hand-in-hand with student-athletes throughout the country.  His focus on academics, as well as the essential day-to-day management and responsibility of academics has never faltered.  

Now the Director of Player Development at CGM Academy and possessing expertise in skill refinement, Miller holds each and every last one of his student-athletes to a lofty academic standard.

Non-qualifiers are required to take SAT and ACT Prep courses, complete with a chock full of demanding courses and tutoring sessions.  The program currently boasts a bevy of Ivy League talent, beginning with 6-foot-5, 185-pound guard Deondre Bourne.

Following an illustrious career at Leman Prep in New York, during which he eclipsed 2,000 career points, Bourne manufactures points at a torrid pace. The blend of instinctive scoring and high academics have made him attractive to programs such as YaleColumbia, and Cornell.  He’s an archetypal high-scoring guard with a knack for creating off the bounce, freeing up space for his shot amid ramped up defensive pressure.   These attributes enabled Bourne to emerge as one of New York City’s most perilous scorers since Lance Stephenson’s Lincoln High heyday.

Another high-academic and intriguing prospect is 6-foot-6 Class of 2019 forward Alec Bryan. Known for his versatility and adeptness on the glass, Bryan will evolve into more of an interchangeable piece this season.

He’s displayed a smooth, consistent 15-20-foot jumper and deft dishing ability, factors which enable him to play as a stretch four.  Being multi-positional and guarding players with a significant height advantage, he’ll shoulder various responsibilities for the program this season.  Now adapting to the mentality of a small forward and providing active interior defense, Bryan’s play has been supplemental to true bigs in the post.  As the coaching staff noted, Bryan’s IQ on the court (as witnessed through his ability to pick apart a defense and foresight in depicting a play before it unfolds) mirrors his intellect in the classroom. He currently holds a 4.2 Grade Point Average.

As Bryan continues to evolve this season while embracing an around-the-clock work rate, the Ivy League and high-academic potential is evident.   CGM’s emphasis on structure and time management, components that will best prepare Bryan for the challenges of the collegiate transition, were two pivotal elements which persuaded him to transfer in.  

The program will also feature a local product in 6-foot-1, 165-pound Jerome Sims III. Sound in all facets of his game, Sims is a knockdown specialist who has improved exponentially since the past year.  Having recently scored a 1510 on the SAT and a 31 on the ACT, Sims will take another stab at the ACT exam this fall. Having worked diligently through practice exams and courses, Sims is aspiring to jack his ACT score up to 34.

CGM GroupWith poised play during heightened pressure and the ability to get big, loud buckets at the opportune time, Sims can best be described as a calming influence at both guard positions.   Mike Minessa, an under-the-radar recruit out of California, will also offer immediate contributions. Like the aforementioned trio, Minessa has already generated Ivy League interest and sustains a rate of high academic success, heady play, and leadership qualities that others feed off.

In addition to seizing the on-court leadership mantle, the onus and expectation is on this core to lead by example as student-athletes and admirable members of the community.

For more information about CGM Academy, kindly click here.


Zone Defense | The Great Equalizer

Zone CollegeThere are many coaches who are allergic to the zone defense.  They stay away from it as if it was the plague.   For other coaches, the zone defense is another arrow in the quiver to be used when the situation on the court dictates it. In any of life's challenges, intentionally limiting your options is not a smart play.  It is always a good thing to be able to adjust to problems by being able to deploy a solution that has been proven to work.  Such is the case with the zone defense.  

It is often referred to as "the great equalizer" because it allows less athletic teams to be able to compete against teams with overwhelming athleticism.   It allows the youth basketball coach a chance to compete and at times win.   It buys time for less defensively gifted players to be able to stay in the game by keeping the opponents' stronger offense from running up the score.  

Zone DefenseCollege and NBA teams deploy the zone when needed. so why not deploy it at the youth level.   Refusing to expose youth basketball players to a very important aspect of the game is negligence and a good argument can be made for incompetence or both.   

When  a middle school student-athlete arrives at the high school level as an incoming Freshman, he will have a better chance of making his team if he knows how to play both the man-on-man as well as every single variation of the zone defense.    He will be better prepared with a higher basketball IQ.  Period.

The mistake made by many coaches of middle school and elementary levels is falling in love with one approach to the game at the expense of the student-athlete who depends on his coach to teach him everything about the game.  Oftentimes, coaches proudly and publicly claim that they will never utilize the zone defense.   

In my view, this is the ego leading the way at the expense of teaching the game.  It is an eclipse of the brain.

Zone Defense DiagramDon't get me wrong, using only zone defense is just as bad as using man-on-man as the only tool to defend against the multiple offensive schemes as well as the myriad of different types of players that exist.   

But a balanced approach to teaching the game is a must.  Coaches have the responsibility to teach a comprehensive curriculum of basketball to their students.

To not teach the zone is a great loss to everyone involved because like it or not it is an important aspect of the game and serves as a great equalizer.

Jose Morales |

4th Annual Rebound for Ronan Tournament | September 23 - 24

2017 SEPT Rebound for Ronan

(JUNIOR HOOPS ARIZONA) Not everyone in Arizona knows the name of Bobby Barajas.  But everyone in Arizona who has anything to do with Arizona's competitive youth basketball community knows the name.  If you are a youth basketball coach or trainer and you don't know Bobby, you must have just entered the community and it won't be long before you know that as a tournament director community icon she is the Queen of the Court.

The ABA: Year-round Training for Those Serious About Development


Arizona All-Stars Logo_ShieldWhy did you name your academy the "All-Stars"?

Our aim was to implement a basketball player development system designed to create players whose skills set, game IQ and court performance became so impressive that selection to the state All-Star team would be the result. 

Did the system work?

In 2005, we deployed our system with Marco Morales who was 9 years old at the time.  In 2014, in his Senior year, the Arizona High School Coaches Association selected Marco to the State of Arizona high school basketball All-Star team. 

What were the achieved results?

       Signing Day

Marco Signs with LanderBy the time Marco was an 8th grader, he had proven himself to be one of the top club basketball players in Arizona.   At Chandler high school, Marco was selected as the Freshmen team MVP.   After a stellar Freshman year, he made the high school Varsity team as a Sophomore where he had a major impact as the 6th man.

In his Junior year, Marco was the most prolific 3-point shooter in Arizona's highly competitive Division 1 with 97 3-pointers made while shooting them at a 39% efficiency.  In his  Senior year he followed up with another 97 3-pointers with a 43% 3-point shooting  efficiency.  He was also ranked #30 best 3-point shooter in the nation as posted on  He also made the "All-Tournament" team selection multiple times, achieved many 20+ point games with 4 to 7 3-pointers in any given game, scored 10 3-pointers in one game, ran the Pro-Agility 20 in 3.9 seconds and eventually received a full-ride college basketball scholarship.

What is next?

We want to do the same for all of our students in a player development system that is well thought out and offers more weekly training hours than any other program in the state.... READ MORE | | 480-232-8572

The Wild Wild West Tournament (Team, 3-on-3 & 1-on-1) | September 30

2017 SEPT Wild West(JUNIOR HOOPS ARIZONA) Tournaments are exciting events.  It is where one can find great basketball at low cost. Even better is the fact that attending these events positions the participant at the forefront of knowing who are the up and coming basketball stars of the Arizona community.  However, most tournaments are done the same.  When you see one format you pretty much can guess accurately how the other tournaments that are spread out throughout the valley will be.   But look again, the Wild Wild West tournament is shaping up to be unique.  It encompasses multiple formats in one big show.   With this one you will find the standard team format, but this time you will also discover that it includes a 3-on-3 division and if that is not enough diversity for you, the event adds a 1-on-1 division as extra flavoring.