K.J. Hymes, a 6-foot-10 junior, has left Phoenix St. Mary’s and will be transferring to Phoenix Hillcrest Prep to play his senior season on the national high school team, Hillcrest recruiting coordinator Nick Weaver said.
Weaver said that Hymes, who made second-team All-4A Conference at St. Mary’s this basketball season, is finishing up his academics this school year at Goodyear Millennium, which is the neighborhood in which he resides.
Kwame Hymes, K.J.’s father, said the plan is to finish his academics next school year at Millennium, while playing basketball at Hillcrest. Hillcrest sophomore guard Josh Green stayed at Glendale Mountain Ridge, where he played basketball his freshman year, for the academics.
“That’s why we’re staying (at Millennium) for the academic side of it,” Kwame said. “He is getting better as a player. But when you’re playing in 4A, that isn’t what we’re looking for. He wants to be at the top level. Rather than sitting out a ton of games, trying to go back to his home school, he is going this route. My son is great academically. He’ll get his academics from Millennium.”
Hymes, who averaged 17 points and eight rebounds for the Knights this year, will be asked to fill a void left by 7-foot McDonald’s All-American DeAndre Ayton, ranked by recruiting services as the No. 1 2017 prospect, who signed with the University of Arizona.
Hymes is regarded as the most recruited junior in Arizona, along with Mesa Desert Ridge swingman Timmy Allen and Chandler swingman Tevian Jones. Hymes is a composite 4-star prospect.
He projects to be 7 feet by the time he gets to college. He is nearly 6-11 now. He can run the court and is good on the defensive end. He has ability to hit 3-pointers. He played last summer for the Las Vegas Prospects, a club program that feeds another top national high school team, Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep.
He has more than 10 offers, including Arizona State, Washington, Grand Canyon, Georgia Tech, Oklahoma, Clemson, St. John’s, USC, Virginia, California and Colorado.
“We at Hillcrest are so very excited to announce K.J. Hymes as part of the Hillcrest Prep family,” Weaver texted. “K.J. is an outstanding player and will help keep Hillcrest atop the national powers. K.J. in our opinion should be a top-15 ranked player nationally. He has a unique skill set and is very underrated and valued. Next year he will be able to show off his true skill set on the national stage.”
Weaver said he wasn’t sure if he would take the same academic route of Hillcrest sophomore guard Josh Green, who left Glendale Mountain Ridge after his freshman year but remained a student at the public school while playing for Hillcrest, which is stationed at Precision High, a charter school in south Phoenix.
Ty Amundsen, Hymes’ coach at St. Mary’s, said he found out about Hymes transferring to Hillcrest on Twitter.
“I had three great years with K.J.,” Amundsen said. “He’s a tremendous player and even a better person. We had a lot of success together making it to three straight elite eights and I wish him and his family the best at Hillcrest.”
Suggest human interest stories to Richard Obert at firstname.lastname@example.org or 602-316-8827. Follow him at azc_obert