Los Angeles Preps: Kansas

Nike Extravaganza lives up to its name

February, 5, 2011
2/05/11
11:09
PM PT
When they say extravaganza, they mean extravaganza.

There was plenty of hype surrounding Saturday's Nike Extravaganza, held over at Santa Ana Mater Dei High. And rightfully so, given the fact that several of the Southland's premier boys' basketball programs were in attendance and competing for regional bragging rights.

The event started bright and early in the morning, right around 8 a.m. Things didn't finish up until late in the evening, of course, just before 11 p.m. In between, you better believe the action was played at the highest of levels. It was non-stop, from beginning to end.

Suppose that best explains why the camera crews from ESPN2 were on hand for the showcase game, a match-up featuring Las Vegas (NV) Bishop Gorman and Long Beach Poly, which has been ranked No. 1 in the ESPNLosAngeles.com top 20 poll all season long.

Turns out, the visitors from the nearby desert were too much, particularly Shabazz Muhammad. At times, the talented junior scored seemingly at will and he finished with 31 points in a 58-53 victory over the Jackrabbits, who lost for the first time in 23 games thus far.

With a five-point lead at the outset of the fourth quarter, things appeared to be heading in the right direction for Long Beach Poly (22-1). However, Ryan Anderson, Alexis Moore and Roschon Prince, among others, struggled during the final eight minutes of play.

Muhammad, of course, preserved the victory, making four straight free-throws in the final minute of the game. Spectators should not be overly surprised that he played extremely well for the Gaels (20-6) considering the small forward is ESPNU's top-ranked player at his position for the 2012 class, and No. 5 prospect overall.

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Look At Them Now: Jordan Hamilton

February, 4, 2011
2/04/11
3:45
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Jordan Hamilton Brendan Maloney/US PresswireJordan Hamilton, a former Compton Dominguez High standout, is averaging 19 points and 7.5 rebounds for Texas.

For as long as most can remember, the Southland has been one of those must-stop destinations on the West Coast for Division I college basketball coaches and scouts in search of the next potential big thing at the next level.

So imagine what was going on in the minds of the powers that be once they all had an opportunity to set their eyes on Jordan Hamilton during his high school days at Los Angeles Dorsey before an eventual transfer to nearby Compton Dominguez.

After speaking with numerous individuals who were around back then, from 2005 to 2009, the consensus seemed to be that Hamilton was always destined to succeed and become yet another local product to move on and make a name for himself nationally.

Sure enough, Hamilton has lived up to the hype. A starter for Texas nowadays, the 6-foot-7 sophomore small forward is averaging a team-high 19 points and 7.5 rebounds per game for the Longhorns (19-3 overall), who are No. 3 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll and No. 3 in the Associated Press rankings.

Hamilton and Co. next play host to Texas Tech for a Big 12 Conference game on Saturday night.

It seems not so long ago, Hamilton was a senior at Dominguez. At the time, ESPNU ranked him as the No. 1 small forward in the country and No. 8 recruit overall.

“Yeah, I know about Jordan Hamilton, know him well,'' said Joel Francisco, a recruiting analyst for ESPN. “In high school, he was one of the best out West. He was one of the top scorers in the nation. I had a feeling that he had the type of game that was ready for the next level. I always thought he was capable of making an immediate impact somewhere.''

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Price's Norvel Pelle draws plenty of attention

February, 1, 2011
2/01/11
6:19
PM PT


LOS ANGELES -- Might as well enjoy him now.

After all, he won't be around here for much longer.

By most accounts, Norvel Pelle is the premier prep basketball player the Southland has to offer. And it doesn't matter where the game is, at home or on the road, crowds typically flock to the gym in an effort to catch a glimpse of the senior from Price High in action.

Some cheer. Others jeer. Bottom line: Pelle is a big draw.

Such was the case once again Saturday night. Spectators were out in force at the Fairfax State Preview Classic to watch Pelle & Co. defeat Mission Hills Alemany, 66-61. Interestingly enough, a collection of college coaches and scouts were in attendance as well, presumably there to see Pelle for perhaps one of the final times before he takes his game to St. John's next season.

“Norvel brings a whole lot to the table,'' Price coach Michael Lynch said. “It seems like everyone wants a piece of him sometimes, so the key for him is to stay focused as much as possible. He's getting better and better at concentrating on things and that's a good sign because you never know how a kid is going to respond to a certain situation and all of the hype.

“On the court, he makes his teammates better, no question about it. He's a talent, a force, the kind of player that opens things up for everyone else around him. There's a lot to like about him, he does many things well. Norvel can be a dynamic player whenever he wants.''

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