Commentary

Hoops: Five Burning Questions

Updated: January 27, 2010, 10:54 AM ET
By Ronnie Flores | ESPN RISE

[+] EnlargeLayshia Clarendon
Scott KurtzIf the socks fit ... current Cal Bear Layshia Clarendon goes high while at Cajon (San Benardino, Calif.).

Who are the top trend-setters in basketball?

Top-level girls high school players. Wait, it isn't LeBron or D-Wade? Nope. Trends in the girls game spread like wildfire, whereas boys usually enjoy rituals, such as LeBron's trademark pregame powdered rosin toss. With the boys, some choose to emulate rituals, while others choose to purposely deviate from them to display their independence. At high school girls games a few years back, nearly every player wore "no-show" socks. Go to a girls game nowadays, and you'll find a gym full of girls in socks to the knees. Girls love to talk and share ideas, and their styles are strong indicators of unity.

How does Northland rate against the best-ever Columbus teams?

Pretty well, and it could go down as one of the three best high school teams that Ohio city has produced. If the FAB 50 No. 1 Vikings continue to win and capture their second consecutive Division I state title, they will inevitably be compared to the 1968-69 Columbus East team that finished 25-0. That team featured prep all-American and future Olympian Ed Ratliff (Long Beach State), NCAA scoring champ Dwight "Bo" Lamar (Southwestern Louisiana) and NBA draftee Alonzo "Nick" Connor (Illinois). East was not named the mythical national champion by the National Sports News Service (that honor went to undefeated Compton, Calif.), but the Tigers did produce three NBA-level players and all five starters went Division I. In fact, East went 24-0 in '67-68 and 70-1 over a three-year period. Jared Sullinger and Northland will have to finish unbeaten to even be in the conversation.

[+] EnlargeDamion James
Brendan Maloney/US PresswireAre you surprised to see Texas' Damion James playing a big role on the national stage? We aren't.

Who gets our 'We Told You So' award this year?

That would be Texas senior forward Damion James. In recent seasons, freshmen and sophomores have stolen the spotlight in college basketball, but we love it when seniors stick around and work hard to improve their games. Texas had a few hiccups last week, but James was averaging 17.6 points and 10.8 rebounds for the 17-2 Horns. When he was a senior at Nacogdoches High in Texas in 2006, we called James the most underappreciated talent in the country. He led the Dragons to four district titles and was one of the most impressive players during the practice sessions at Sonny Vaccaro's Roundball Classic. James earned first-team EA SPORTS All-American honors from ESPN RISE.

What does the transfer of Jabari Brown mean for Findlay Prep?

A starting role for Marko Petrovic, the nephew of the late Drazen Petrovic, and more playing time for Denmark native Thomas Laerke. Brown played at Salesian (Richmond, Calif.) as a sophomore and helped that team win the CIF Division IV state title. Following the Pilots' one-point loss to Northland (Columbus, Ohio) in mid-December, Petrovic started to play a larger role in the offense and, according to Findlay's coaching staff, gave the team defensive energy. The 6-foot-4 Petrovic is complemented nicely by the 6-foot-4 Laerke, who has become a key contributor in Brown's absence. Brown had a 28-point game for the Pilots on Jan. 2, but sometimes addition by subtraction works best for both parties involved.

What was the controversy with Jabari Brown returning home?

His transfer to Oakland (Calif.) High apparently became an eligibility issue because of the number of regular-season games basketball payers in the Oakland Athletic League are allowed to play, not because of any wrongdoing by Brown or his family. OAL rules stipulate a student-athlete can play in 26 games, not including the postseason. Brown played 19 games for Findlay Prep and two games at Oakland before he sat out three games while Oakland Section commissioner Michael Moore figured the situation out. On Monday, Moore ruled the 6-foot-3 Brown eligible to play in five of Oakland's last seven regular-season games. CIF member schools are not allowed to play Findlay Prep. Brown's departure or the CIF's stance on Findlay Prep won't make the Henderson, Nev.-based program any less attractive to potential California student-athletes.

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