Los Angeles Preps: Shabazz Muhammad

Jerrett is the Southland's gem

December, 20, 2011
Grant Jerrett of La Verne LutheranNick KozaGrant Jerrett of La Verne Lutheran -- and his big, agile frame -- are headed to Arizona.

LA VERNE -- At 6-foot-10 and 220 pounds, and potentially growing, Grant Jerrett possesses the size necessary to make an impact each time he steps out on the basketball court. There is more to him than merely an ideal frame for the game though. Much more, in fact.

The senior from La Verne Lutheran is as skilled as they come.

A well-rounded interior game separates Jerrett from most of his peers. A deft touch from the perimeter, especially for a post player, makes him a match-up nightmare for opposing bigs. An unrelenting will to grab seemingly every rebound from counterparts in his general vicinity is a valuable asset. Blocking shots and stepping in passing lanes for steals comes naturally.

[+] EnlargeGrant Jerrett of La Verne Lutheran
Nick KozaJerrett caught the eye of many Pac-12 schools, including UCLA and USC.
All of the intangibles are there, and given that fact, the Arizona-bound Jerrett is recognized as one of the Southland's premier players. The Trojans, as result, figure to be a force to be reckon from start to finish this season. With Jerrett leading the way, of course.

“Grant gets better with each day, with every practice, every game, every jumper, every rebound. He's a special player,'' La Verne Lutheran coach Eric Cooper said. “The best is yet to come. Once he realizes that he can dominate games, everybody better watch out for him.''

Make no mistake, Jerrett has been a well-known commodity for quite some time. He has, after all, been at the forefront of back-to-back CIF State titles for the Trojans.

Jerrett & Co. are expected to be one of the marquee attractions at the Chick-fil-A Classic, a high-profile multiple-day tournament the rest of this week in Decatur, Ga.

There was, however, a time when he wasn't a household name.

Jerrett is in his fourth year as a contributor on the varsity level for La Verne Lutheran. His first season, unfortunately, was cut short when he broke his foot twice.

He took a big step forward during as a sophomore, no pun intended. Jerrett opened plenty of eyes with more than respectable averages 18 points and 10 rebounds per game.

“Everything happens for a reason, I'm just thankful all of those injuries are behind me and I'm healthy now,'' Jerrett said. “I feel stronger than ever, which is a good thing because I know I have a big target on my back nowadays. I'm always up for the challenge though.''

That was blatantly obvious last season as a junior. Jerrett was unstoppable, at times, and averaged 18 points, 10 rebounds and more that three blocks every night.

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Nike Extravaganza lives up to its name

February, 5, 2011
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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