AZ Compass Prep, which sits right outside of Phoenix, Arizona, has been one of the upcoming powerhouse basketball programs over the last few years. The program has earned respect over the last few seasons and has gained the attention of the country as a primary elite basketball program. Famous alumni currently include Jabari Walker, Josh Primo, TyTy Washington, Frankie Collins, Chance Westry, Max Lewis, and DaRon Holmes just to name a few.
Head coach Ed Gipson, assistant coach and Program director Pete Kaffey, and Vice President Zy Owens have been the main guys pushing this basketball program in the right direction. Getting guys into college and just helping them grow as young men. I had a chance to speak to head coach Ed Gipson recently regarding the program they have built and will continue to run over the next few years.
I asked Coach to just talk about how he made AZ Compass Prep one of the better basketball programs in the country up to this point?
“I can’t even take all the credit for it or none like that man. Guys like Pete and Zy have been a huge part in our success here. I think we just stuck to who we were. We just said we want to get good kids that have the fight in them and want to get to the next level. We just want to do it the right way. We don’t care about rankings. We wanted kids that wanted to get better.
I think that is how we really went about it. We care about kids. We don’t want nothing from you, all we want to do is give to you. In doing that has helped us so many times. You going to give way more than you ever get. We just stuck to the script. We have been good at identifying our lanes.
Zy is always supporting us as a VP. It empowers us and it is no kids or obstacle we cannot get or get over. He always has our back. It is really a close friendship between us three, it was a vision. Pete actually got me to catch on to the vision. I was not really sold on it at first, I was going to leave, but Pete told me to be patient and wanted me to be head coach and now we here.” Coach Gipson answered.
The last two seasons has really showcased the rise of this AZ Compass Prep program. The Dragons have been ranked in the top-25 nationally, hold a combined 56-7 overall record, and have made two straight appearances in the GEICO Nationals.
During the 2020-2021 high school season, AZ Compass defeated other powerhouse programs like Oak Hill Academy (VA) and Sunrise Christian during the Montverde Academy Invitational on the campus of Montverde in Florida. A sort of passing of the torch or AZ Compass proving they are here and worthy of a fight with the big time programs.
For those who have watched AZ Compass Prep play or even seen Ed Gipson coach on the sidelines, you know how intense things get when they are on the floor.
Coach Gipson and his staff have set the tone and culture to always play hard, work hard, and fight for your teammates on and off the court. I asked Ed to just talk about that culture and intensity he has marked for the AZ Compass Prep program moving forward.
“We always preaching, it’s about us not about you. Always setting the tone and letting our guys know you have to care about the person next to you more than you care about yourself. Every new group we have come in we establish discipline. You have to make sacrifices and you have to put in extra work. When I make mistakes and someone kind of brings it to my attention from their perspective, I’ll go back and switch things up or change it.
When my kids see me doing things like that then that is how the trust is built. When they see me being humble they know I always have their back. I’m going to always push them beyond what they even thought. They know it is coming from a place of love. I just genuinely want to see these kids win. At the end of the day it is about them. Once a kid sees how much you believe, they will do anything for you.” Coach explains.
The AZ Compass Prep program has already had a few famous alumni that have made it to the highest level of basketball and will have future pros throughout their program as time goes on. One of those famous alumni? TyTy Washington.
TyTy Washington attended AZ Compass Prep for his last two years of high school and had an incredible blow up during his senior season before attending the University of Kentucky and being drafted by the Houston Rockets in the 2022 NBA Draft.
Washington led AZ Compass Prep to a 31-2 overall record, a top-10 national ranking, a Grind Session Championship, and their first appearance in the GEICO Nationals tournament during the 2020-2021 high school season.
“I remember my wife telling me when I was coaching Ty during his senior season that I was in the moment. Coaching Ty, I really felt like all year I was in a moment. Cause you can trust and you knew that him and the rest of those guys were going to compete at a high level, they weren’t going to take no for an answer, they were invested in the school, the community, and the coaching staff.
To be honest, that kid right there is a coach’s dream. I recently seen him at the airport and I told him at this point he going to change and he going to have to change. I told him he does not have to answer all our phone calls anymore and none of that. He is going to a level and place that we are not right now. He told me that is not changing and we are apart of his life.
Just being at the draft recently in June, he made sure to show us love and come see us no matter what all he was doing during that process. Seeing him bought back so many memories man. This kid did not only elevate a program, he elevated my life as well.
A lot of these kids coming into our program saw him, they didn’t see me and Pete, they saw him and wanted that same experience. It has been epic man having a kid like TyTy come through here.” Ed Gipson goes on talking about coaching TyTy Washington during his time at AZ Compass.
AZ Compass Prep has earned so much recognition over the last two seasons on the national level that they have earned themselves a spot in the NIBC coming into the 2022-2023 high school season.
The NIBC is a league filled with some of the best powerhouse prep schools in the country. Programs such as Montverde Academy (FL), Sunrise Christian (KS), IMG Academy (FL), Oak Hill Academy (VA), and others are already apart of the top notch league.
I asked Coach Gipson what are his expectations for this upcoming season and making their debut in a league with such great programs.
“First off, I know we are capable of winning the NIBC and GEICO Nationals. We have the right pieces in place, talent, and character. I want my guys to win individually as well. Yea I want to win as as a team but I want my guys to get better everyday and get to the school they want to get to at the next level.
I want them to grow as young men as well. I’m not just teaching toughness but I also want to teach character too. Not working hard is not an option, not giving your all is not an option, and days off is not an option. That is what we working on now with this group. I feel like we going in the right direction. I honestly feel like this group can win the national championship, I think this is the group that can do that out of all our groups.” Coach Gipson replies.