MEDFORD, Ore. — With high school sports seasons still uncertain in Oregon, players have been taking their destinies into their own hands. Some of the best headed to prep schools in California to give themselves the best chance to play at the next level.
The biggest local name to head south was Oregon-commit Nate Bittle. The Crater Comet announced earlier this year he would finish up his basketball career at Prolific Prep in California. But Bittle isn't the only one making the move to Cali.
Medford's Piyush Aneja is getting a head start in his basketball career. Aneja, a class of 2023 product, is joining the Southern California Institute of Sport. Aneja previously played for Bella Vista Prep in Scottsdale, Arizona.
"It can only help you from being in that type of environment," Aneja said. "Every game you play, I mean, even with COVID-19 like coaches are watching these streams... this is a next step to see like where I'm at, as far as my skill, my talent."
Southern California Institute of Sport, Bella Vista Prep and Prolific Prep are all schools in a larger network of Prep schools called The Grind Session. Almost like basketball academies, teams typically live year-round at the schools, although the current pandemic has changed that up for some.
The Grind Session is planning on hosting a few "bubble-style" tournaments in 2021 featuring the various prep schools. That kind of concentration of talent is what Aneja hopes gets some college coaches' eyes on his game. And as Aneja's mentor and trainer will tell you, exposure can have positive impacts on your success if you're ready to meet the challenges.
"Exposure is good," Jeff Carter said. "But you got to have the work ethic and believing yourself to be able to get on a basketball court and then be able to play."
Aneja is hoping that with a few more years of prep school basketball, he will get a better idea of how he stacks up against some of the best high-school-age talents in the country.
"It answers your question. You can really see it," Aneja said. "It's just all about improving every day because I plan to play on the prep route for, you know, as long as my high school career goes."
Carter thinks Aneja can succeed at the competitive prep level because he's been able to grind out training on his own, a maturity Carter says he doesn't see from a lot of athletes his age.
"I was just thinking with this bad situation with [Piyusg] his best thing, been the self-motivation just grinding and grinding and grinding and just saying 'I'm not gonna let this pandemic stop me from reaching my goal,'" Carter said.