Ajay Vigil, Isaiah Cavazos, and Evan Nanez posing for a picture after winning the Las Vegas Grand Finale in Las Vegas, Nevada. This was the last game of their basketball season. (Photo courtesy of Christen Cavazos.)
When I first touched a basketball, I was probably around 3, and I played on this mini-hoop around my house — Ajay Vigil
In 2019, Rio Rancho’s 5th grade Vista Grande Grizzlies’ basketball team celebrated an undefeated season. All games were lopsided victories.
The team included three rising stars in boys hoops: Isaiah Cavazos, Evan Nanez and Ajay Vigil.
Cavazos would drain threes from beyond the arch, Nanez was the Chris-Paul-type floor general, and Vigil was the elite scorer. These three played at a different level, and it all started when they were young.
“When I first touched a basketball, I was probably around 3, and I played on this mini-hoop around my house,” Vigil said. “If you work hard, and put time into it, you’ll eventually get better. So, keep trying.”
Today, these three Mountain View middle schoolers play for Albuquerque Basketball Club’s Spotlight, and travel out-of-state to play some of the best competition throughout the country.
“It took us a little while, the first tournament [in Houston] we didn’t do so good,” Vigil said. “But we got used to each other’s style.”
Together, the three have won The Lonestar state showdown, 505 Southwest Showdown, The High altitude shootout champions, just to name a few.
The plan for this trio: play together on the 8th grade Mountain View team and play throughout high school.
“We’ve been playing sports, football and basketball together since third or fourth grade,” Nanez said. “Playing at Cleveland together would be special.”
All three will be seventh graders this year, and look to grow in all areas of the game.
“I like to put people in the best places to make plays,” Nanez said. “But I want to work on my shot, jump higher and get stronger.”
Outside of the court, the three do everything together, which equals great chemistry on the court.
“We hangout a lot, go four-wheeling, Legoland, and we’re going to see Thor after this,” Cavazos said.
The three even play football for the Cleveland Storm YAFL team, and this past year won the Superbowl for their division.
“We have a Las Vegas tournament coming up, and then we’re done, then we’re on to football,” Cavazos said.
The three came back from Las Vegas with some hardware. This past week, they won the Las Vegas Grand Finale championship.
Here is what some people from the basketball community have to say about them:
“Cavazos is a sniper from downtown. He had very consistent footwork and mechanics and scored from all over the perimeter, but mainly loved the corner three ball. Defensively, Cavazos flew all over the court, making plays and aggressively applying pressure and traps.” — Travis Graf, MADE Hoops
“Nanez showed off an abundance of talent and creativity while running the show, proving to be a dynamic ball-handler that is very comfortable making instant decisions with the basketball. Incredibly unselfish, loves to keep others involved…” — Devontae Cobb, Prep Hoops
“Ajay Vigil is a sniper from downtown…he shoots with confidence and at times his team’s offense is centered around his shooting. He moves well without the ball and gets to his spots.” — Noah Weber, Prep Hoops