ONE OF A FEW: Westchester HS guard Jordin Mayes, along with teammate Dwayne Polee, are one of the few Southern California products expected to be in Las Vegas for the final evaluation tournament of the summer.Â Only one SoCal product in the class of 2010. Mater Dei HS guard Tyler Lamb, ranks in the ESPN/Rise Top 50.
Sinking talent base does not keep teams from going to ‘Vegas
With only one player in ESPN top 50 So Cal market is down
By Kenneth Miller
Sentinel Managing Editor
Six former Southern California high school basketball stars were just drafted in the first round of the June NBA draft, but as the local AAU club teams head to Las Vegas this week for the final evaluating tournaments of the summer there isn’t one clear stand out player from the region.
James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, Brandon Jennings, Jrue Holiday, Austin Daye and Darren Collison will begin their NBA careers this fall and recently finished starring in the NBA Summer League.
They each represent a long-standing trend that the best talent base for future NBA talent is right here in Southern California.
Harden who began his long journey to the NBA as a chubby shooting guard with the Southern California All Stars club team is projected by many to be an NBA Rookie of the Year candidate.
DeRozan, who starred at Compton High, toiled on a Master P club team that at times that also featured Jennings who could be the steal of the entire draft.
Holiday, starred for the Pump brothers club team, which has had a lock on players that found their way onto the UCLA campus.
Meanwhile, Daye and Collison were standouts in the annual Collision high school all star games that feature the top seniors from the L.A. City and Southern Section. Collison was named Collision MVP and Daye was terrific scoring 22 points before they embarked on their collegiate careers at UCLA and Gonzaga, respectfully.
However, as scores of local club teams such as California Supreme, So Cal All Stars (SCA), Pump ‘N Run, Belmont Shore, Compton Magic and many high school teams make the costly trek to Las Vegas this week there are lingering questions of who does the trip benefit most.
Parents and their sons who have aspirations of a college scholarship bank on their relationships with these clubs teams to pay off for them in the long run, but the costly trip during these difficult economic times have drained these club teams of their resources.
California Supreme is sponsored by Nike and will be required to play at the Nike sponsored event in Vegas this weekend, while both Pump ‘N Run and SCA have Adidas affiliations and will play in that event.
Thousands of players and hundreds of teams will give a tremendous boost to the Vegas economy and the sponsors who are the primary beneficiaries of these events.
As scores of college coaches whose allegiance also aligns with shoe sponsors will be there to evaluate their next recruit.
For such players as Tyler Lamb of Mater Dei High who has already committed to UCLA it will be just another opportunity to play on a big stage.
Lamb is the highest-ranking player from the state of California according to ESPN Rise at No. 35. The 6’5 guard will be a key component on a Mater Dei team that will also feature 6’2 point guard Gary Franklin who uncommitted from USC after coach Tim Floyd resigned.
Franklin ranks behind Lamb at No. 52 among the top 100 players nationally.
Another Supreme standout is Dewayne Polee of Westchester, a 6’6 jumping jack who has committed to USC, but is probably also weighing offers from other schools in light of the USC basketball situation.
Polee is not even on the top 100 list, but projects to become the next NBA players from the region.
Anthony Brown, a 6’6 shooting guard from Ocean View in Huntington Beach is the star player for SCA and has drawn interest from UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State among others. Brown is listed at No. 60 in the ESPN ranking chart.
Other locals on the list are former Dominguez star and Mater Dei transfer Keala King at No. 70, Westchester’s Jordan Mayes at No. 80, Taft’s Bryce Jones at No.92 and Price Christian star Allen Crabbee at 100.
Crabbee has already committed to Cal, but for many of these players they feel that Vegas will be their final audition for a big time scholarship.
However, in many cases colleges have already decided on their scholarships for the 2010 class and are shopping for 2011 and 2012.
The top player in the class of 2010 is 6’7 shooting guard Harrison Barnes of Ames High School in Iowa who is on the wish list of Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Okalahoma and Kentucky.
Just below him is power forward Tristan Thompson, a 6’9 bruiser from Canada who has committed to Texas.
Iowa and Canada? What happened to New York, Chicago, Florida and especially California?
None of these players are creating the splash that LeBron James did years ago or even Renardo Sidney just a year ago.
Just the sign of the times, the ball keeps bouncing and like the talent it goes up and down.