Los Angeles Preps: Ryan Anderson

L.B. Poly athletics to be recognized

November, 7, 2011
ESPN High School will recognize the defending national champion Long Beach Poly girls' track team during halftime of Thursday night's football game at Veterans Stadium, and also honor the school's 2010-11 all sports POWERADE FAB 50 championship.

The 2011 Poly girls' track team was deep with talent, led by nationally ranked Melia Cox and Akawkaw Ndipagbor.

The boys' basketball team was the state's top-ranked squad for most of the 2011 season. The Jackrabbits won the CIF-Southern Section title behind forward Ryan Anderson (Boston College) and guard Alexis Moore (USC). They fell short of the state crown, losing to eventual state champion Mater Dei in the regional semifinal.

Poly's football team (8-1, 5-0), No. 5 in the ESPN Los Angeles top 25, can take the Moore League outright with a win against Cabrillo on Thursday.

LA North: Blackwell commits to nearby LMU

April, 21, 2011
His goal was simple: Play well and earn a scholarship.

Sure enough, C.J. Blackwell stuck to the plan over the course of his recent senior season as a member of the Woodland Hills Taft High boys' basketball team. Accordingly, interest in the 6-foot-5 wing never wavered as Division I programs kept a watchful eye on him throughout.

The recruiting process, however, came to an end Thursday afternoon. Blackwell ended up committing to nearby Loyola Marymount (LMU), choosing the Lions despite having been in contact with several schools, among them being Florida State, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin.

“I felt that Loyola Marymount was the best fit for me, it's close to home and my family can see me play in college, that was most important,'' Blackwell said.

Blackwell was instrumental in guiding Taft to a Los Angeles City Section title and a No.4 finish in the ESPNLosAngeles.com top 20 rankings. He shot 50 percent from the field, 42 percent from beyond the 3-point arc and averaged 13.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per game.

In addition, Blackwell compared rather favorably to some of the premier players that the Southland had to offer. Listed as a power forward by ESPNU, he ranks right up there with peers such as Los Angeles Price's Norvel Pelle, Long Beach Poly's Ryan Anderson, Los Angeles Windward's Wesley Saunders and North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake's Damiene Cain.

Blackwell figures to play the small forward for the Lions.

“The coaching staff over at LMU said I would have a chance to play right away, but I know nothing is going to be handed to me,'' Blackwell said. “My focus was to work hard this season, I knew that if I did that, things would fall into place me for me. And they did. Now, in college, I know that I'm going to have to so the same thing. I'm ready to get back to work.''

Sean Ceglinsky covers preps for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.

LA South: Five things from the weekend

April, 4, 2011
1. The Mira Costa boys volleyball team beat rival Loyola 23-25, 25-18, 23-25, 25-21, 15-12 at Loyola Marymount University on Friday night. It was a revenge of sorts for the Mustangs, who fell to Loyola in last year's CIF Southern Section Division I championship. Heading into Friday's match, Mira Costa (12-0) was the top-ranked team in the CIF-SS top 10 poll; Loyola (11-2) was ranked third.

2. Cerritos Gahr wide receiver Delshawn McClellon registered the fastest 40-yard dash time at the Nike SPARQ Combine, running a 4.37 on Saturday at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Long Beach. The rising senior figures to draw plenty of attention from recruiters in the fall.

3. Defensive back Lavell Sanders of Compton Dominguez had the fastest 20-yard shuttle at 3.98. Sanders will team up with highly touted cornerbacks Brandon Beaver and Alphonso Marsh to give Dominguez one of the top defenses in the region. Click here for a recap of the Nike SPARQ results from ESPN Rise.

4. Long Beach Poly forward Ryan Anderson had five points, four rebounds and two assists for the West team in the All-American Championship in Houston on Sunday. The West squad beat the East, 107-104. Anderson was named the Gatorade California Player of the Year last month after leading Poly to the CIF-SS Division 1AA basketball championship.

5. In baseball: Bonita, the top-ranked team in the CIF-SS Division 3 poll, has won eight of its last nine. The Bearcats can continue to make noise in the Arcadia Tournament this week. Long Beach Wilson took over the top spot in the Moore League standings with 3-1 wins against Millikan and Lakewood, the fourth-ranked team in the Division 1 poll.

State basketball: Five things from the CIF playoffs

March, 27, 2011
  1. The best basketball player in California is a girl. If there was any doubt Mater Dei’s Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was the most talented basketball player in the state, she put it to rest in the championship game against Berkeley. After going scoreless for the first seven minutes of the game, she went on a scoring binge in the final minute of the first quarter and the entire second quarter. She scored 15 of her team’s 24 points in the first half. She helped her team erase a 12-point deficit and take a four-point lead into halftime. She ended up with a game-high 33 points. After the game, she said she wasn’t 100 percent healthwise. She hurt her quad in practice two days before the championship game. After hitting her first shot in the first quarter, she had a noticeable limp the rest of the game. Even when she was hobbled and playing on at best one-and-a-half legs, she was the best player on the court. The University of Connecticut will be in good hands for the next four years, as if it needed any more help to continue to be the best college basketball team in the country.
  2. Wesley Saunders and Kenyatta Smith are going to make Harvard a force in basketball. Saunders from Windward and Smith from Flintridge Prep decided on the Ivy League for their college basketball careers. They probably could have played anywhere they wanted in the country. Saunders was highly recruited and guided Windward to the Division IV state championship. The 6-foot-6 forward scored 15 points and had nine rebounds in the state title game against Salesian. Smith’s size, at 6-8, made him an attractive recruit. He towered over his opponents through the Southern Section and state playoffs. Harvard hasn’t been to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament since 1946 and came within a last-second, desperation jumper from Princeton to going this year. Saunders and Smith might be the California connection to help end that drought.

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Windward's Wesley Saunders wins on and off the court

March, 24, 2011
Wesley SaundersDave KeeferWesley Saunders leads Windward in nearly offensive and defensive category this season.

LOS ANGELES -- When talk typically takes place about some of the Southland's premier prep basketball players, the name Wesley Saunders is mentioned. And rightfully so, considering the 6-foot-5 senior forward from Los Angeles Windward High is one of best around.

Make no mistake, hitting jumpers from the perimeter, battling for position underneath the basket for rebounds, handing out assists to wide-open teammates and elevating high above the rim to block opponents shots are skills that separate Saunders from his peers.

His undeniable talents on the hardwood, however, do not define him.

As good he is on the court, Saunders is equally talented off the court.

Finding a balance between basketball and the books might be difficult for some, but not Saunders. He has proven to be the consummate student-athlete this season and is largely responsible for guiding the Wildcats (26-8 overall) to the CIF Division IV State championship game against Richmond Salesian (25-11) on Saturday at Power Balance Pavilion in Sacramento. The opening tipoff is for 11:15 a.m.

“Wesley is special, a ball and a hoop aren't the only things that matter to him. Education comes first and that's different in this day and age,'' Windward coach Miguel Villegas said.

Saunders carries a high grade-point average and he scored more than 1800 on the SAT.

On all-important game days, Saunders is similarly focused.

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CIF State Division 1 boys' basketball Southern California Regional semifinals: No. 4 Mater Dei (29-3) vs. No. 1 Long Beach Poly (31-1), at Long Beach City College Gymnasium, Saturday, 6 p.m.

Five keys to the game:

1. Sprint, dash and run: It will be the third game in five nights for each squad, so this shouldn't be a transition lover's dream. The light at the end of the tunnel? The winner will have an entire week to rest up for the regional final at Galen Center. Now's the time to leave it all on the floor, tired legs or not.

2. Avoid the whistle: Poly dodged a bullet while senior Alexis Moore sat on the bench for the final minutes against Etiwanda on Thursday. He fouled out on an unsportsmanlike conduct technical and, afterward, vowed not to let it happen again. "I'm just glad my guys were able to get the win without me," Moore said. "I apologized to each one of them, I apologize to this whole city."

3. Get the ball down low: Throwing the ball into the 6-foot-8 Ryan Anderson has been working for Poly, so why would the Jackrabbits go away from him? The Boston College-bound forward must be consistent in establishing deep post position against the undersized Monarchs. There should be no troubles if he does so -- Mater Dei's tallest player stands at 6-7.

4. A third option: Mater Dei coach Gary McKnight knows what he has in Xavier Johnson and Katin Reinhardt. The juniors combined to score 47 of Mater Dei's 72 points Thursday in a win against Loyola. Poly -- which held Etiwanda star Byron Wesley to just 12 points Thursday -- will make someone else beat them.

5. The killer instinct: The Jackrabbits couldn't put Etiwanda away on Thursday and it nearly cost them, as the Eagles made it interesting with an 11-2 run to start the fourth quarter. The Monarchs, meanwhile, trailed Loyola by nine heading into the fourth but came back to win. The last eight minutes should be interesting, to say the least.

LONG BEACH -- Alexis Moore called it a preview of next season.

Long Beach Poly minus him.

It was just a sneak peek, though, as the top-seeded Jackrabbits survived without their senior leader, fending off a furious charge to beat Etiwanda, 66-63, before a packed gym at Long Beach City College. Poly advanced to the semifinals of the CIF Southern California Regional state playoffs and will play host to fourth-seeded Mater Dei on Saturday night.

Ninth-seeded Etiwanda used an 11-2 run at the start of the fourth quarter to climb back from a 14-point deficit. The Eagles trailed by five with just under two minutes remaining.

Then things got a bit fuzzy.

Moore nailed a clutch 3-pointer to put Poly up eight and celebrated emphatically as he backpedaled to the other end.

"I didn't say anything to the other players," Moore said. "I didn't say anything to the fans. It was just one of those in-the-moment things."

He raised his arms twice and looked over to Poly's supporters, but then a whistle blew.

"He tried to get the crowd involved," Poly coach Sharrief Metoyer explained. "I always thought taunting was player-to-player. He was excited, he had just made a big shot."

Play was stopped and Moore was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct technical. It was his fifth personal foul, so he had to watch the final minutes from the bench.

After a few moments of chaos, the USC-bound Moore grabbed his replacement, junior guard Chris Croom, and revved him up.

"I told him this was a preview for his senior year," Moore said. "Next year they're going to be looking on him to fill my role."

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Alexis Moore had a feeling this would happen, so he didn't boast when Long Beach Poly eliminated Etiwanda from the CIF-Southern Section Division 1AA boys' basketball playoffs last week.

It's a good thing he didn't say much -- top-seeded Poly (30-1) and Etiwanda (29-3) meet again Thursday at Long Beach City College, with a spot in the third round of the CIF State Division 1 playoffs up for grabs. The opening tip is scheduled for 7 p.m.

There's a complicated dynamic to this rivalry.

Moore will play alongside Etiwanda star Byron Wesley at USC next season. Poly's top prospect, forward Ryan Anderson, will team up with Etiwanda's point guard, Jordan Daniels, at Boston College.

The future teammates figure to put their friendships on hold for one night.

If Poly beats Etiwanda for the second time in two weeks, Moore and Anderson will be doing the talking on their campuses this fall. If No. 9-seeded Etiwanda pulls off the upset, Wesley and Daniels will have the last laugh.

Five things to watch:

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LA South: Long Beach Poly 77, Palisades 46

March, 8, 2011

LONG BEACH -- Ryan Anderson had such an advantage down low that he could have posted huge numbers. Instead, he settled for something better: rest.

Anderson sat for most of the second half and still finished with 17 points and nine rebounds Tuesday night, leading Long Beach Poly to an easy 77-46 victory against Palisades Charter at Ron Palmer Pavilion. The top-seeded Jackrabbits (30-1) advanced to the second round of the CIF State boys' basketball Division I playoffs. They will play Etiwanda on Thursday in a rematch of last week's CIF-Southern Section Division 1AA semifinals.

"It was good to be able to get guys rest," Poly coach Sharrief Metoyer said. "The schedule is grueling this week if you're able to make it to Saturday. It was good to get our starters off their feet in the fourth quarter."

In reality, the game had been over for a while. Poly blitzed No. 16-seeded Palisades (18-14) and led 44-21 at halftime behind 15 points from Anderson. The remaining 16 minutes of play were a mere formality.

Anderson added a bucket in the third quarter and took his seat for good with more than 10 minutes remaining. Roschon Prince had 17 points and Chris Camper had 15 for the Jackrabbits. Palisades wing Ilya Ilyayev led all scorers with 20.

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Long Beach Poly already accomplished Goal 1A, winning the CIF-Southern Section Division 1AA boys' basketball championship last week. Now the Jackrabbits set their sights on Goal 1B: a state title.

Star forward Ryan Anderson was the only one jumping for joy after Poly (29-1) claimed the sectional crown against Centennial at Anaheim Arena last Saturday. That was by design. Most of his teammates held off on the dance moves -- and won't do so until the Jackrabbits win state.

The journey to Sacramento begins Tuesday night at 7 p.m. when top-seeded Poly hosts Palisades (18-13) in the first round of the CIF State basketball championships.

Five keys to the game:

1. Palisades might want to avoid a slow start, which doomed them against Woodland Hills Taft in the CIF-City Section semifinals. Poly, meanwhile, jumped all over fast-paced Centennial and never let up, coasting to an uneventful championship win. Don't be surprised if Palisades coach James Paleno burns a few timeouts early to put an end to runs.

2. Yeah, the ultimate prize awaits in Sacramento, but Poly must maintain focus and not get ahead of itself. Championships aren't won in one night. Seniors Alexis Moore and Alex Carmon have fallen short before, so they know that. Anderson doesn't think focus will be a problem. "There's been a target on our back all season," he said. "We'll get everyone's best shot."

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Inland Empire: Corona Centennial set to host Redlands East Valley

March, 7, 2011
Southern California Regional boys’ basketball playoffs

Division 1

First round

Redlands East Valley at Corona Centennial, Tuesday, 7 p.m.

Five keys to the game:

1. Corona Centennial is seeded No. 2 in this bracket, mainly due to the efforts of its Big Three. Michael Caffey has signed with Long Beach State, Dominique Dunning with New Mexico and Gelaun Wheelwright with Weber State. Caffey began the season as the third option but he has elevated himself into the player most likely to take the big shot down the stretch. He was pivotal in the Huskies’ victory against Mater Dei in the Southern Section Division 1AA semifinals.

2. How will the guard-oriented Huskies handle Paulin Mpawe, the 6-9 center for REV who has signed with Pepperdine? Centennial didn’t have an answer for California-bound center Ryan Anderson in the Southern Section Division 1AA championship game Saturday at the Anaheim Convention Center. The 6-10 senior for Long Beach Poly had 18 points and 21 rebounds in the 68-52 victory. Mpawe is averaging 14 points and 11.2 rebounds.

3. You can pretty much bet the farm that the Huskies will string together a sizable run during a game, usually turning a close contest into a route. REV needs to be cognizant of when that’s occurring and use its timeouts wisely. With Mpawe and leading scorer Terrell Todd, a senior guard, the Wildcats have the pieces to slow the game into a half-court tug-of-war, but they need to limit their turnovers, especially while bringing the ball upcourt.

4. The Southern California Regionals are different than the section playoffs in that the higher-seeded team gets home-court advantage. Centennial hasn’t played a whole lot of home games this season. This will be just its ninth at Centennial High this season, and second of the postseason. Still, they are 8-0 at home and haven’t lost in their own gymnasium since January 2009.

5. REV hasn’t played since Feb. 25, when the Wildcats lost to Los Angeles Loyola, 90-60, in a Division 1A semifinal at Cal State Los Angeles and, for all intents and purposes, checked out of that game about the second quarter. Centennial, on the other hand, is fresh off their loss to Long Beach Poly and hungry to get back to its winning ways. If staying in rhythm is the key to scoring the basketball, the Huskies have that advantage as well.

ANAHEIM -- The elation in Ryan Anderson was evident, his happiness blatant. And although he was the only one jumping for joy, Anderson celebrated enough for an entire team.

Seconds after Long Beach Poly claimed the CIF-Southern Section Division 1AA boys' basketball title with a 68-52 win over Corona Centennial at Anaheim Arena, Anderson leaned over and grabbed the game ball. He held it tight to his chest, closed his eyes.


"I wanted this so bad," Anderson said, "because we've tried to get this the last two years and fell short. All the work we put in, the target has been on our back the whole year. To finally win is just a relief."

Anderson did his part with a game-high 18 points and 21 rebounds against an undersized front court. He was just too big, too determined. The Boston College-bound forward did fall just short of his pregame goal of 20 points, 20 rebounds.

Poly coach Sharrief Metoyer wasn't complaining. Centennial coach Josh Giles wasn't surprised.

"He's going to an ACC school for a reason," Giles said.

And there's a reason why Poly has been the state's top-ranked team all season long. The top-seeded Jackrabbits (28-1) had been doing just enough in the postseason, but finally put a full game together.

Defense, offense, rebounding, three-point shooting -- all facets were accounted for. Poly grabbed 43 rebounds, Centennial just 16.

"What you saw was our experience," Metoyer said. "We did a great job of finishing quarters."

A thunderous dunk by reserve Jordan Bell gave Poly a 16-point lead at halftime. The game was still in doubt, in large part due to third-seeded Centennial (27-4) and its patented pressure defense. The Huskies had reached the championship game by coming back from 15 down against second-seeded Mater Dei on Tuesday.

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ANAHEIM -- Perhaps there's a pebble out there that can bring down Long Beach Poly. Etiwanda just couldn't find it Tuesday night.

Top-seeded Long Beach Poly wasn't perfect but did enough in a 60-53 win over fourth-seeded Etiwanda to advance to the CIF Southern Section Division 1AA boys basketball championship game. The Jackrabbits (28-1) will face third-seeded Corona Centennial in the final Saturday at 6:30 p.m. The Huskies came back from a 15-point hole to knock off second-seeded Mater Dei in the other semifinal at Anaheim Arena.

"At Poly, whatever sport you play, you always have that target," said senior Alexis Moore, who had 15 points and eight rebounds. "With the No. 1 seed, we knew there was going to be a lot of expectations and a lot of pressure put upon us. We just tried to tune that out and play our game."

Super sophomore Roschon Prince, who had a game-high 19 points, gave Poly a four-point lead with a lay in inside with a minute remaining. He stole the ball on Etiwanda's next possession and took it the other way for the clincher, allowing the Poly contingent the chance to exhale.

But Prince's best contribution was his defense on Etiwanda's Byron Wesley. Wesley finished with 18 points, but only four came in the fourth quarter.

"I could tell Byron was getting frustrated," said Moore, who will team up with Wesley at USC in the fall. "In the first half he got pretty much anything he wanted. Byron is capable of breaking you down, whether it's at the top of the key or in the post. I'm going to have a lot of fun playing with him next year, but Roschon did a better job of staying on his toes and moving his feet."

There was another interesting dynamic that should draw plenty of conversation on the Boston College campus next fall. Etiwanda's Jordan Daniels (12 points) and Poly's Ryan Anderson (11 points) will be teammates.

The game included 10 ties and four lead changes. Poly didn't reach its biggest lead until the final made free throw. In the end, it was defense and transition efficiency that proved to be the solution.

Moore joked that he would not talk too much trash because Poly might face Baseline League champion Etiwanda (28-3), which got to Anaheim with ease by beating up on Long Beach Wilson, Chino Hills and Valencia, in the state tournament.

Inland Empire: Daniels makes college decision

February, 19, 2011
It's official, Jordan Daniels is off the board.

The 5-foot-8 senior for the Etiwanda High boys' basketball team made his decision about where he is going to spend the next four years of his life on Friday and committed to Boston College despite having scholarship offers from several other schools.

“Boston College was the right fit for me, I liked the coaches and how they treated me during the whole recruiting process, I got a good vibe from them,'' Daniels said. “I'm in a good place right now and am ready to continue my basketball career back East.''

The Eagles coaching staff has had some recent success in landing players from the Southland. Once Daniels arrives on campus at Chestnut Hill, he will join Long Beach Poly's Ryan Anderson, Brea Olinda's Kyle Caudill and Valencia's Lonnie Jackson.

The point guard is one of the Southland's premier players at his position and ranks right up there with Division I-bound peers such as Woodland Hills Taft's Spencer Dinwiddie, Los Angeles Price's Askia Booker and Corona Centennial's Michael Caffey.

With Daniels now seemingly set in terms his future at the next level, college coaches and scouts figure to turn their attention toward Bellflower St. John Bosco's Cezar Guerrero and Anaheim Canyon's Chris Anderson, a pair of unsigned floor generals.

“I can't speak too much about the other point guards, but I have no problems singing Jordan's praises,'' Etiwanda coach Dave Kleckner said. “He's a young man with a ton of talent and a ton of character. I've been doing this for 20 years and I can tell that he has what it takes to succeed and make it at the next level. We have not seen the best from Jordan Daniels yet.''

Sean Ceglinsky covers preps for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.

ESPNLA top 20 boys' basketball rankings

February, 15, 2011
The CIF-Southern Section and City Section playoffs are all set to get started later this, week which can mean only one thing: The Southland's top teams are on the verge of squaring off, tournament style, with the hopes of eventually bringing home some championship hardware to their respective schools.

We figured it was best to unveil another installment of the ESPNLosAngeles.com top 20 rankings before things get underway. It will be interesting, no doubt, to see how things unfold and just how many of the following programs live up to the lofty postseason expectations bestowed upon them.

In terms of making an appearance in the final poll before the playoffs, consideration was given to larger schools Compton, Elsinore, Murrieta Valley, Pasadena and Washington. The same could be same about little guys Mission Hills Alemany, Bellflower St. John Bosco and Westlake Village Oaks Christian. In the end, however, there is only room for 20 teams. So, let's get down to business.

1. (1) Long Beach Poly (24-1): Ryan Anderson and the Jackrabbits have been the top-ranked team from start to finish thus far. No need to switch things up at this stage of the game.

2. (2) Mater Dei (24-2): If anyone is capable of defeating Long Beach Poly in a loaded Division 1AA bracket, perhaps it is the Monarchs. Doing so, however, is an entirely different story.

3. (4) Taft (23-2): The talented Toreadors are the odds-on favorite to win the City Section title. Anything less than a championship would be one of the biggest surprises of the season.

4. (3) Corona Centennial (23-3): The premier program out in the Inland Empire has shown little, or no, signs of slowing down. A deep run during postseason play is a distinct possibility.

5. (5) Loyola (20-5): Talk about playing your best basketball at the most opportune time, no one wants to face the Cubs in Division 1A. The real question is, did they peak a bit too early?

6. (6) Etiwanda (25-2): The Eagles have plenty of explaining to do after inexplicably losing two of their final five regular-season games. That said, we are patiently waiting for an answer.

7. (7) Orange Lutheran (21-6): Among the teams looming as potential threats in Division 4AA are Windward, Alemany and St. John Bosco. The Lancers figure to be tested early and often.

8. (8) Westchester (23-6): After taking a brief glance at the City Section bracket, the Comets appear to be on a collision course with Taft in the finals. Looking ahead could prove costly though.

9. (9) Harvard-Westlake (22-4): With Daniene Cain and Zena Edosomwan providing an imposing presence down low in the paint, the Wolverines will be tough to beat in Division 3A.

10. (11) Peninsula (25-1): Lone loss came last year, on Dec. 3, a six-point setback to Westchester. Fast forward to present day and the Panthers are in the midst of a 21-game winning streak.

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