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High School Team Preview:
Long Beach Poly High--(Oct. 7, 1998)

"I thought we'd have trouble replacing Ricky Anderson, Shelton Diggs and Mike McIntyre. But I think we may be even better this year, and I think that our team next year could be our best ever."  Ron Palmer, Long Beach Poly Head Coach. 

A lot has been written about Ron Palmer in the years since 1964 when he first started coaching.  Ron grew up in Monterey, California where he attended Seaside High and was a track star. Following graduation, he attended Oregon State where he continued his track career. Upon graduation from college, he returned to his hometown wher he started coaching track. He then moved to the Los Angeles area, and worked in recreation leagues, and then served as an assistant at Pasadena High.  In 1973-74 he began his first stint at Long Beach Poly, which lasted until 1984, when he became the head basketball coach at California State University Long Beach, where he coached for three years, taking a couple of years off before re-entering coaching again. Palmer explained it to us this way:    "I actually got the Long Beach Poly job by accident, and it was not something I planned. In fact, when I first applied for the job, they turned me down.   So I applied somewhere else, at Pasadena, and after Pasadena had offered me the head job there, the fellow who had gotten the job ahead of me at Poly came down with an illness which prevented him from taking the job.  They actually begged me to take the job, and at first I turned them down, but they were persistent.  I guess it's fair to say I got the job against my will and totally by accident."

He's been at Poly now since 1989, and has coached some great players.  Ron is a point guard's coach, and he can recognize and effectively bring out the best in a player. He's a patient, kind teacher, and he's always willing to talk basketball and share his knowledge of the game with anyone willing to show a genuine interest to learn.  And this season he has several star pupils.  The team is:

Wesley Stokes (5'-10" Jr. PG)
Tim Thomas (5'-10" Jr. PG)
Kenny Wright (6'-2"  Sr. SG)
Marques Sargent (6'-3" Sr. SG)
Robert Regan (6'-4" Jr. SF)
Shea Anderson (6'-7" Sr. SF)
Joe Travis (6'-8" Jr. PF)
Keyon Cooley (6'-8" Sr. SF/C)
Rahman Shotwell (5'-10" Sr. G)
David Word (5'-10" Sr. G)
David Williams (6'-4" Sr. F)
Jim Kresel (6'-8" Jr. C)
Adrian Martin (5'-9" So. G)
Lionel Penman (6'-3" Jr. G/F)

This team will be built around the returning starters, and Wesley Stokes will be the spark of the team.  Wesley is one of the most improved points, and he really is one of the few true points around. He's a great passer, who actually believes there are five players on the floor who can score; he sees passes about two passes ahead, always anticipating where he and/or the ball need to be. He looked good this summer, especially at the Nike Summer Championships, and Wesley is, in the estimation of coach Palmer, one of the finest points he's ever seen. "I've coached some pretty good point guards, guys like Tyus Edney, Tony Gwynn, and I think I can see a point guard's strenghts and weakness pretty well. Wesley is one of the best I've ever seen, a true point guard, not a big shooting guard who everyone is trying to turn into a point.  Wesley wil be getting a lot of attention this season and certainly next year, and he'll be a high D-I pick as a senior. He makes great decisions, and according to Ron, he's "the complete package."

Joe Travis and Shea will be the two strongs link in the frontcourt, and Shea's developed into one of the best 3/4 combo players in the senior class, and his good j and handle, and rebounding ability will get him some major college opportunities. Shea is a great leaper, good rebounder, and to top it off, he scored 1400 on the SAT and is a tremendous student. Look for him to end up at an Ivy League school  Joe Travis is a big, strong and fast player, with good skills and mobility, and he'll be a big time player this season as he does his own personal rollout for his high profile summer next year.   

In the post, Keyon, who is playing only his second year of high school basketball, has just blossomed over the last year. He still has a good handle and can shoot it out to three point range, but there's not much call for 6'-8" guys to do that with great regularity, and he's developed some good post up moves to go along with his size, although he still seems to prefer the wing and still thinks like you'd expect a point guard to think.  He's getting looks from everyone, and will probably not sign until the spring.  Backing up Keyon willbe 6'-8" Jim Kresel, who will play reserve at the center spot, and who is very talented but also a raw talent. Jim is up from the JV's and we'd expect him to get more than a little playing time as Poly prepares for the war that is league play and playoffs in Division I-AA, the largest and toughest division in Southern Section of CIF. 

At the wing position, Asion Jackson (6'-4" Jr. SF/PF) has decided not to play basketball this season and will not return.  But Marcus Sargeant (6'-3" Sr. SG) will be back, and he played very well at the Best of Summer tourney this year, which Poly won. He is an excellent defender, will trap his man at the sidelines, or use his hands to pick off the ball. He has excellent size, strength and quickness and can hit the J, or accellerate and drive to the basket. Lionel Pennman (6'-3" Jr. F/G) will also work at the swing postion as will Kenny Wright and David Williams, a transfer from Narbonne who certainly wanted to avoid the effects of probation imposed on Narbonne after this last summer's CIF rulings.

In the other guard spots, David Word, a transfer from Long Beach Jordan, who was one of their leading scorers last season, and Rahman Shotwell, a transfer from Gahr, who was one of Gahr's leading scorers will play the two spots along with returning veteran Kenny Wright.  And lending some additional backup to Wesley at the point will be 5'-9" Adrian Martin, who is a very quick little guard.

As most know, Poly didn't really play together this summer except at the summer version of the Best of Summer Tournament, which they won. The team is currently in conditioning, and is getting ready for a tough preseason, including playing at the Gahr Holiday Tournament in early December where they'll play with Artesia, at a tournament in San Diego in mid-December, and then at the winter version of the Best in the West which will be held from December 26, through December 31.  Poly has elected not to go to Vegas this winter, and will not do any out of state traveling prior to the beginning of league play.  

And speaking of league play, Poly plays in the very competitive Moore League, which features Compton, Long Beach Jordan, Lakewood, Long Beach Millikan, and Long Beach Wilson. We'd say right now the league could come down to a three-way race between Compton, Poly and Jordan, but then you never know about the others like Wilson.  Depending upon  circumstances like eligibility, illnesses and injuries, any one of these teams could take the league title.

Poly will not only play in the 5th Annual MLK Jr., Challenge at Pauley Pavilion on January 18th where they'll face Manual Arts, two days before that, they'll be at Cal State Dominguez Hills where they'll take on Long Beach Jordan in a league contest.

We've said it before, and we'll say it again, anyone of a number of teams could win Division I-AA this season and advance to the state Southern Regionals and the State Championship game.   The one which makes it the farthest could very well be the Long Beach Poly Jackrabbits.  We'll be watching.


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