Los Angeles Preps: recruiting

Poly's Wicks picks up two more offers

May, 30, 2012
Running back Gerard Wicks of Long Beach Poly picked up two scholarship offers Wednesday, from Nevada and Colorado State. He has also holds an offer from Washington State.

Wicks and fellow senior-to-be Manusamoa Luuga form a powerful backfield tandem for the Jackrabbits. Wicks rushed for 11 touchdowns last season and averaged nearly eight yards per carry; Luuga had 10 scores and more than six yards per carry.

And although Wicks shares the ball, he figures to be one of the area's most productive seniors this fall.

Loyola's Shelton bags first offer

May, 29, 2012
Senior-to-be lineman Coleman Shelton of Loyola is finally getting the recognition he deserves from recruiters. The 6-foot-4 All-Serra League selection received a scholarship offer from Colorado last week and a number of other Pac-12 schools are starting to show interest.

Teammate Cameron Walker, one of the area's top cornerbacks, is already up to eight offers, including Michigan, Boise State and Cincinnati. Tight end Jack Neuheisel, the son of former UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel, is planning a visit to Southern Methodist.

Loyola has one of the toughest non-league schedules around: Harvard-Westlake, West Covina, Newport Harbor, St. John Bosco, Mira Costa and Valencia.

QB Hayden Rettig commits to LSU

May, 22, 2012
Cathedral quarterback Hayden Rettig, the 16th-ranked player in the state for next year's class, has committed to Louisiana State, he said via text message.

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Rettig was spectacular to start last season before suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, which forced him to sit out the remainder of his junior season. He had passed for 508 yards and six touchdowns in Cathedral’s opener, and another 294 yards the following week.

Rettig, the younger brother of Boston College quarterback Chase Rettig, also holds scholarship offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Boston College, Purdue and Vanderbilt. He is scheduled to go on an unofficial visit to Baton Rouge this weekend.

Rettig is the nation's 12th-ranked quarterback, according to ESPN Recruiting.

Compton's Robbins commits to Oregon State

May, 11, 2012
Compton forward Victor Robbins, the 17th-ranked senior in the state, committed to Oregon State on Friday.

Robbins averaged 17 points and nine rebounds, earning first-team All-CIF and first-team All-Moore League honors. Compton was 19-10 last season, finishing second in league behind Long Beach Poly.

Lakewood WR Shepherd a potential sleeper

May, 9, 2012
The receiver position was a loaded one last fall, with St. John Bosco's Bryce Treggs (Cal), Inglewood's Derrick Woods (Oklahoma), Oaks Christian's Jordan Payton (UCLA) and Lakewood's Darius Powe (Cal) leading the way.

Another deep class appears to be taking shape as we head into the summer, with Rancho Verde's Demorea Stringfellow, Alemany's Steven Mitchell, Santa Monica's Sebastian Larue and Oaks Christian's Francis Owusu pacing the group.

Lakewood's X'avier Shepherd might be close to joining the region's elite. He has scholarship offers from five Pac-12 schools -- UCLA, Utah, Arizona, Oregon State and Colorado -- as well as Fresno State.

Shepherd averaged over 15 yards per catch and hauled in six touchdowns last season despite sharing the ball with two seniors: Powe and Malik Gilmore (Oregon State).

"Both of them have had a very big impact on my game," Shepherd said. "They've given me a lot of information on the recruiting process and have never steered me wrong before, so I'm sure that everything will work out smoothly."

Serra's Dakarai Tucker commits to Utah

May, 3, 2012
Gardena Serra forward Dakarai Tucker, one of the area's top unsigned seniors, will sign with Utah.

Tucker averaged 11 points and five rebounds in leading Serra to the CIF-Southern Section Division 4AA basketball title. He also strongly considered Saint Mary's.

"I just have that vibe that Utah is the place for me," Tucker said.

Tucker is the 27th-ranked player in the state for the class of 2012, according to ESPN.

Pasadena's Hamilton commits to N. Arizona

May, 1, 2012
Pasadena senior Blake Hamilton committed to Northern Arizona over the weekend. He also had a scholarship offers from Hawaii, Cal State Northridge and Sacramento State.

The 6-foot-5 forward averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds last season, helping Pasadena to the CIF-Southern Section Division 3AAA title. He is the cousin of brothers Isaac and Daniel Hamilton of St. John Bosco and Jordan Hamilton of the Denver Nuggets.

Serra's Smith scorching at the plate

May, 1, 2012
Gardena Serra junior Dominic Smith is proving why he's one of the most feared hitters in the state.

Through 19 games, Smith is batting .596 (34 for 57) with six home runs and 40 RBIs. The left-hander is also 5-0 as a pitcher, compiling 41 strikeouts and a 1.48 ERA in 28 1/3 innings pitched.

Smith is verbally committed to USC.

Serra is 15-4 and ranks No. 3 in the CIF-Southern Section Division 5 poll.

Dorsey's Brown bags UCLA offer

April, 25, 2012
Dorsey defensive back Daquawn Brown received a scholarship offer from childhood favorite UCLA this week, the latest indication that recruitment for the rising senior is heating up.

Oklahoma dropped by Dorsey on Tuesday. USC and Nebraska did the same on Wednesday. Brown has college coaches intrigued and looks to add to a list of offers that already includes Arizona State, Cal, San Jose State and Washington State.

"It's catching up to me," Brown said of his recruitment. "To be noticed by my favorite, ideal schools is an honor."

Brown said he will commit to the most "genuine" school, meaning the one that has his best interests, both athletically and academically, in mind. Brown has sought the advice of former Dorsey standouts Jeremiah Allison (Washington State) and Jaydon Mickens (Washington), as well as Oregon phenom De'Anthony Thomas, an inner-city legend who attended rival Crenshaw.

"We all grew up together, playing for the same teams in Pop Warner," Brown said. "They're all helping me."

Don't expect the 5-foot-11 Brown to make a college decision soon. He hopes to take all five official campus visits to get a feel for what each school has to offer, and he anticipates that a choice will likely come near signing day in February.

Wilson's DeJong breaks the mold

April, 19, 2012
Chase DeJongStephen Dachman, Courtesy of GazettesSports.comChase DeJong enjoys a challenge, which explains why he left a small private school for a large public school.

LONG BEACH -- Chase DeJong wanted to challenge himself.

In a time when transfers from public to private schools are common, the senior pitcher decided to go the other way, leaving the comforts of Valley Christian in Cerritos for Long Beach Wilson at the end of ninth grade. He could stay and dominate at Valley Christian, where he knew the first and last names of about 600 students, but that would have been easy. No, like any great competitor, DeJong wanted to challenge himself.

It was difficult to leave because he had attended Valley Christian since preschool. His two older brothers had gone there as well. It was home for him, all he ever knew.

"I knew if I wanted to experience a big public school and play against top-level competition, I needed to test myself," says DeJong, the 12th-ranked player in the state according to ESPN.

DeJong adjusted well to the move and, a year later, burst onto the scene with a 10-2 record and 1.00 ERA as a junior. In 50 innings pitched this season the 6-foot-5 right-hander has given up nine earned runs and struck out 71 batters.

"His biggest transition was getting used to the large number of personality types and religious beliefs," says Bruins head coach Andy Hall, whose team is 14-6 with all six losses coming by one run. "He's lived a sheltered life. Being exposed to this has helped him mature and grow."

DeJong throws an unmistakeable low-90s fastball and mixes in what Hall describes as a "vicious" curveball. He received his first recruiting letter as an eighth grader and, eventually, was pursued by nearly every major college program before settling on local USC. DeJong broke the news to Trojans head coach Frank Cruz with a late-night phone call last August.

"It was 11:45 at night," DeJong says. "I woke him up."

Not that Cruz complained or anything.

DeJong has remained humble through the added attention and higher profile. Hall says he receives baseball cards of DeJong from autograph seekers in his school mailbox. The 18-year-old signs them and sends them back.

(Read full post)

Inland Empire flavor to first ESPN 150

April, 17, 2012
Seven players from Inland Empire schools made the initial ESPN 150 football recruiting rankings, led by the Southland's most coveted prospect Su'a Cravens of Vista Murrieta.

Cravens, a safety, is ranked 15th overall nationally, but first in the state and first at his position. Rancho Cucamonga defensive backs Chris Hawkins (69th overall) and Tahaan Goodman (128th), Moreno Valley Rancho Verde receiver Demorea Stringfellow (74), Redlands East Valley defensive end Kylie Fitts (90), Upland defensive end Joe Mathis (120) and J.W. North tight end Marcus Baugh (127) are the other Inland Empire representatives.

Mission Viejo safety Max Redfield, ranked 31st overall, is the only Orange County player listed.

Alemany receiver Steven Mitchell (136) and Westlake defensive back Dashon Hunt (140) are considered to be the top recruits in the L.A. North region, while Santa Monica receiver Sebastian Larue checks in at 149th overall and is the only rep from the L.A. South.

Hawkins and Fitts have already committed to USC, Hunt is committed to UCLA and Baugh recently pledged for Ohio State.

Click here for the complete ESPN 150 rankings:

Loyola's Hazzard commits to Arizona

April, 15, 2012
Loyola sharpshooting guard Jacob Hazzard committed to Arizona on Sunday, accepting a preferred walk-on spot with the Wildcats.

Hazzard, the grandson of former UCLA great Walt Hazzard, had scholarship offers from a number of Division III schools but a visit to Tucson last week convinced him. He averaged more than 12 points per game and made over 40 percent of his 3-pointers, gaining a reputation as one of the top shooters in the Southland.

"I love the facilities, love the campus and it's a big school," Hazzard said of Arizona. "I wanted to go to a big-time school. The basketball fan base there is ridiculous. Everyone is supportive."

Source: Price's Johnson headed to Cal

April, 11, 2012
Los Angeles Price forward Khalil Johnson has committed to Cal and is set to sign with the Golden Bears this spring, according to a source.

Johnson, a versatile forward with a smooth lefty stroke, also considered Arizona State. The 6-foot-7 Johnson was a key contributor on a Price team that reached the CIF State Division IV championship last month. The Knights, though, lost to Salesian.

Price has produced its share of talent in recent years. Skylar Spencer, one of the area's top big men, is headed to San Diego State. Allen Crabbe, Cal's leading scorer as a sophomore last season, was the Pac-10 freshman of the year in 2011.

Fairfax's Taylor signs with USC

April, 11, 2012
Fairfax guard Brendyn Taylor, one of the top players in the City Section this past season, signed with USC on Wednesday. He averaged 18 points and five rebounds as a senior at Fairfax.

"Brendyn has a great upside," USC coach Kevin O'Neill said in a statement. "He is an athletic wing who's best days are ahead of him. He is going to be a major plus both on and off the court for USC."

The 6-foot-2 guard missed most of the last two seasons because of CIF transfer rules after leaving View Park. Fairfax finished 20-10 and tied for first in the Western League. Taylor's brother, Bryce, played for Oregon from 2004 to '07.

St. John Bosco's Falah adds Cal offer

April, 10, 2012
St. John Bosco rising senior offensive lineman Nico Falah continues to be one of the area's most sought after football recruits. He received a scholarship offer from Cal on Tuesday afternoon, adding to a collection that now includes all of the Pac-12 schools except Stanford.

Falah is a national-level prospect, having been offered by the likes of Boise State, Florida and Notre Dame.

He said he doesn't anticipate making a decision until late in the process, after he takes all five of his visits. The 6-foot-4 Falah plans to attend a spring camp in Berkeley on April 21 and visit the Bay Area campuses that same weekend.