KING FOR A DAY: Riverside forward Kawhi Leonard, who was named Mr. Basketball State Player of the Year, will join his teammate Chris Harriel on the Southern Section roster at the 11th Collision All-Star Classic on Saturday.
City, Southern Section set for Collision Course Saturday
There’s no doubt that at El Camino College on Saturday, April 25, fans will see one of the best collections of high school talent in not just Southern California but the country as the 11th Collision All-Star Game tips off
13 All-State selections and 28 Division I recruits will play in both the girls and boys games at 4 and 6 p.m., respectively, and after the undecided players solidify their commitments, that number could cross 30.
Where else could you find a game that will feature the state players of the year in Mr. Basketball (Kawhi Leonard – Riverside King) and Ms. Basketball (Layshia Clarendon)?
How about one of the nation’s top seniors in Jordan Hamilton (Dominguez) and a McDonald’s All-American in Eliza Pierre (Pasadena Muir)?
Most organizers would be happy to have at least one of those players headline their game. But Collision’s reputation for showcasing the best of Southern California has allowed it to have all four as part of its history.
And as an added bonus, the girls game will be presented by the Los Angeles Sparks and head coach Michael Cooper will be the game’s honorary coach. Cooper also served as a girls’ coach in the very first Collision game back in 1999.
What separates this game from any other is that it’s a battle of pride, not just a collection of talent. Where else can you see the best of arguably California’s two best sections battle for bragging rights that last for a year.
With most of the players already familiar with each other from league rivalries, playoff duels and many games on the local basketball circuit, it’s one last chance to measure themselves up before they go their separate ways next fall.
The game will continue its tradition of featuring at least one UCLA player, male or female. This year, Collision has two future Bruins in Tyler Honeycutt (Sylmar) and Anthony Stover (Windward).
City Section Player of the Year Dominique O’Connor and his Westchester teammate Deshun McCoy will share the court with Taft’s threesome of Michael Williams (San Francisco), Justin Hawkins (UNLV) and Terran Carter (CSUN).
Fairfax’s All-City forward Solomon Hill, who signed with Arizona after de-committing from USC, will go against a future Trojan in La Mirada forward Derrick Williams.
Joining Stover from Division V state champion Windward is Michigan-bound guard Darius Morris and Pennsylvania-bound guard Malcolm Washington.
It’ll also be the last time that childhood friends Tony Freeland (Fremont), DeShawn Gomez (Inglewood) and Justin Cobbs (Bishop Montgomery) share the court. Freeland and Cobbs will both head to the Midwest to suit up for DePaul and Minnesota, respectively.
Coaching on the sidelines are two of the brightest young coaches in Southern California as well as candidates for the vacant Campbell Hall coaching job. Derrick Taylor (Taft) and Reggie Morris, Jr. (Leuzinger) have never won a Collision game but one of them will walk away with a hard-earned victory
More importantly, whoever wins will earn bragging rights as the series is tied at 5-5. Last year’s MVP, Casper Ware, Jr. (Gahr), went on to a successful year at Long Beach State, being named to the All Big-West freshman team.
The girls’ game will feature one of the state’s best 1-2 punches in Clarendon and her Cajon teammate Darshae Burnside (Arkansas), who joined her on the All-State first team.
They follow in the footsteps of their former teammate Bjonee Reaves, who was named MVP of the girls’ game last year after the Southern Section won 93-91.
If that wasn’t enough, throw in All-State second teamers Pierre and Ontario Colony forward Camille Buckley (Loyola Marymount) along with Buckley’s teammate Jazmyne White (UC Irvine).
For good measure, how about Division III state finalist Inglewood being represented by forward Tayler Champion (Oregon State)? Or Pacific Hills’ Ariel Dale (Fordham) and Summit’s Meghin Williams (Nebraska), both All-CIF honorees?
Southern Section coach Mel Sims (Ayala) has arguably one of the most loaded rosters in Collision history but don’t count out the City Section’s hidden gems, discovered by City Section coach Victoria Sanders (Narbonne)
They bring 11 All-City selections to the table, led by high scoring threats Sara Villaneua (Poly) and Dominique Scott (Palisades). Their defense will be anchored by Utopia KatesÂ who averaged nearly seven steals for Palisades.
Although they may not big names, Collision is where you can make a name for yourself as the competition makes everyone step their game up.
Plus, the City will be motivated to end a six-year losing streak to the Southern Section, who leads the series 9-1.
Everyone will seek to join the already impressive list of Collision alumni. A list that includes current collegiate players like Austin Daye (Gonzaga), Ify Ibekwe (Arizona) and Michael Roll (UCLA) to future pros Darren Collison and Camille LeNoir to current pros Russell Westbrook and Lisa Willis.
Not to mention the very first Collision when future NBA lottery picks Tyson Chandler and Josh Childress played in the underclassmen game.
Who’ll be the next star to emerge from the 11th Collision All-Star Game? Come find out Saturday.