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SoCalHoops High School News

High School Team Preview:
Western High School--(Nov. 26, 1999)

This team preview is admittedly short in length, and it's also short on information on some of the players listed.  We have not spoken with Western's coach Joseph Aihara. Perhaps we'll have the time to get together with him shortly for a more in-depth interview, but as we've said before, we simply don't have the time or resources to physically speak with every single coach of every team in the Southern Section prior to the start of the season in order to get these previews out before play starts.  We'll obviously continue to do previews during the season, but for now this will have to do. And  thankfully, we can rely a bit on the traditional media, such as the LA Times and the Orange County Register.  This preview is based in large part upon information published in the Orange County Register on November 25, 1999 in a preview of the Orange League written by Richard Manfredi, and based on information we've accumulated throughout the summer and last season.

Western High School is located at 501 South Western Avenue in Anaheim. The school is a four year coed institution with an enrollment of 1550 full-time students, and it competes in the Orange League with Brea Olinda, Savanna, Anaheim, Magnolia and Valencia (Placentia). The Pioneers are coached bvy Joseph Aihara, who is starting his second season, and while things could get worse this year than they were last year, it's hard to imagine the team compiling a 2-22 record again this year.   Last year, the team finished 0-10 in league and, needless to say, failed to make the playoffs.  As Richard Manfredi wrote in the Orange County Register's preview of the Orange League, in picking Western to again finish dead last, "The question is whether there is enough talent around [Robert] Turner to compete for a playoff spot."   

Manfredi was referring to Robert Turner (6'-8" Sr. SF/PF) who absolutely exploded this past fall, playing for the Orange County Rebels travel team at events like the Long Beach Fall Hoops Classic and the Double Pump Fall Premier Tournament.  Turner had been quietly recruited by Cal State Fullerton for the past few years, but with his absolutely stellar play in these two tournaments, he was no longer a secret, and even a 2-22 high school team couldn't hide him.  After getting several recruiting offers from quite a few Big West and WCC schools, Turner signed a National Letter of Intent to play next year at Pepperdine.

But other than Turner, this is a team which last year had not much chemistry, and which simply didn't compete well against league and non-league opponents alike. Six player return this year, providing a decent nucleus, but candidly, we don't know much about anyone else besides Turner. Here's the listing of players from the Orange County Register's Orange League preview article.  In a couple of instances, no class designations were included, and since we don't know them either, we'll just go with what the Register has listed.

Robert Turner 6'-8" Sr. SF/PF
Billvick Perez 6'-2" Sr. G
Rendi Wijaya 6'-4" Sr. G/F
Dajuan Panell 6'-2" Sr. F
Roger Spencer 6'-3" Jr. F/C
Jarom Watts 6'-2" So. G
Jacob Chavira 6'-3" C
Amos Kim 6'-2" F
Anthony McGee 6'-0" G

Whether others will also be added to the roster is something we just don't know at this time, and likewise, we don't know much about (in fact nothing) about any of these guys other than Turner.  The schedule is not overly ambitious, and in fact they are playing in only two tournaments in the preseason, so they shouldn't get too hurt by overly tough competition.  Here's the schedule insofar as we know it for 1999-2000, i.e., this is the schedule from the CIF's "Master Schedule and Media Guide," so it's possible that there've been changes or additions. Anyway, here's what they've got:

Dec. 1 Century
Dec. 4 Garden Grove
Dec. 6-11 @ Fullerton Tournament
Dec. 16 @ Fullerton
Dec. 22 Santiago
Dec. 27-30 @ Katella Tournamnent
Jan 4 @ Westminster
Jan 8 @ Costa Mesa
Jan 12 *Valencia
Jan 14 @*Magnolia
Jan 19 *Brea Olinda
Jan 21 *Anaheim
Jan 26 @*Savanna
Jan 28 @*Valencia
Feb 2 *Magnolia
Feb 4 @*Brea Olinda
Feb 9 @*Anaheim
Feb 11 *Savanna

 The Swish Award
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