The New Southern California Basketball
SoCalHoops College News Report

ARC, Pump-N-Run, Slam-N-Jam &
Rockfish All In One Day...Whew!--(April 4,1998)

We had to go. It was pouring rain, traffic was a mess, but we had to go. So off to Dominguez we went, first to see the Pump-N-Run Easter Tournament. Didn't get there Friday, but still managed to see some absolute killer basketball today, all in about three hours, and then we went over to Dominguez High to scout out a bit of the younger crowd in the Slam-N-Jam, and then dropped in over at Verbum Dei to catch a bit of the Rockfish Spring League. And all that was after a morning spent at ARC in North Hollywood.

This was a day of extremes. Extreme traffic. Extreme rain at times. Extreme basketball, and extreme basketball fanaticism. What do you call it when the first person you bump into going into the gym is none other than Mike Miller of West Coast Hoops, who's leaving the gym to make a mad dash to his car in the rain, carrying what look like two big leather boats, which actually turn out to be a pair of JJ Todd's size 20 shoes. Apparently JJ had just gotten a new pair of shoes and so he gave his old ones to Mike. I asked Mike what he was going to do with them, and he said "turn them into a sculpture or something." Er, ok. Who knows, maybe in about 4 or 5 years those size 20 shoes will be collectors items. Who are we to judge. Hey, Mike, gimme those shoes, I saw them first. . .

So that's the way it started for us. Extreme. We got to Dominguez in time to see Top Prospects (with a few additions) absolutely kick Arizona Heat White's butts. TPI, which was supposed to be Dart Stamps' group was missing some players, but did have Joe Shipp (6'-5" Jr. G/F) from Fairfax, Chris Osborne (6'-9" Jr. C) from Westchester, Johnnie Hardwick (6'-11" Jr. C) from Manual Arts, Ryan Stacey (6'-6" Jr. F) from Mater Dei, and they also managed to add Gilbert Arenas, who like a jax saxophonist sitting in with the band just to jam, played with this group after his own Pump-N-Run team had played earlier in the day. Actually today should be called travels with Gilbert (Sr. & Jr.) as Gil Sr. schlepped Jr. and the other guys all over Compton and Watts back and forth between the tournament and the Rockfish league games pretty much all day and into the evening. Jason Morrisette (6'-4" So. G) also from Fairfax played with TP, as did Marlon Parmer (6'-2" Jr. PG) of Verbum Dei, and these guys are going to give DC Assault or DC Select (whichever team they were slated to play later tonight) some major grief. Gil was looking good, and Chris Osborne was simply dominating inside. The team was also supposed to feature Lou Wright, but we didn't see him there today. TP won pretty easily, but AZ Heat White did have a couple of outstanding looking players, including Levi Fugeson (6'-5" Jr. F) from Chandler (we presume somewhere in AZ), who had about 16 points and was the major scoring threat for the Heat.

Following that game, it was pretty much a three-ring circus. On court 3 it was Friends of Hoop III v. IEBP II, and FOH won pretty handily, even though the Inland Empire guys gave the Seattle boys a fight. Trennel Eddings (5'-11" Jr. PG) from Eisenhower was not there, and the point duties were split between Brian Pinchon (6'-2" Jr. G) from Diamond bar and Joseph Dawson (6'-2" Jr. G) from Fontana and Baron Baker (6'-0" Jr. G) from Fontana. Baker is very quick, loves to penetrate, but had trouble finishing. The real story in this game was the FOH team, which had two very impressive point players, Ricky Frazier (5'-9" So. PG) and Curtis Allen (6'-1" So. PG) both of whom are very fast, with the ability to drive, penetrate and go to the hole, or spot up and let it fly from anywhere between 5' and 30' with great accuracy. Maurice Murphy (6'-4" So. SG/F) also had a very quick first step, played great defense, and hit a couple of threes. Roydell Smiley (6'-4" So. F) has got to have one of the highest verticals around, and he seems to like to rebound. Inside, FOH has two huge twin widebodies, Josh Williams (6'-7" Fr. PF) and Ahman Gordon (6'-5" So. PF), who look like matching brick houses. And this was only the FOH III team. II and I are supposed to be that much better. . . we'll see tomorrow.

On court 1, Texas Blue Chip II was just humiliating the Tiger BB/Hollister group from the central valley, and they must have outscored them by about 70 points. I mean this one wasn't even close. To Tiger BB's credit, they hung in, and never really gave up, but they were hopelessly outsized and outclassed. TX Bluechip II had some very impressive players, and the entire second half was a slam-dunking exhibition by Terrance Morgan (6'-10" So. C), Clint Watts (6'-10" Jr. C), and Keith Branch (6'-8" Sr. F) from Nimitz Prep School. TX also had some very impressive offensive play from Greg Peters (6'-7" Jr. F) from Angleton and a couple of very quick and impressive guards like Sam Mercedes (5'-8" Jr. PG) and Roderick Kennedy (5'-9" Jr. PG) both of whom have great court vision, found way too many open back door looks, and both also drove and penetrated well. This wasn't really much of a contest, but it did give the TX boys a chance to really show off a bit.

On Court 2, center stage, with Lorenzo Romar looking on, and a bunch of other coaches from Colorado, Texas A& M, and a few other assorted locals (including a few of the UCLA coaches, who also made it over to Verb for the Rockfish), was Texas Bluechip I against West Valley BBC, which is a collection of guys from Aptos, Monterey, Peidmont, Santa Cruz and surrounding environs. West Valley's dominant player was Andre Brown (6'-6" Jr. F) from Piedmont, who must have had 2/3 of his entire team's production. He's strong, quick, can score, and shoot both in the open court and from behind a screen. He playes defense well too, and if he's not a major D-I prospect, then we don't know who is. This guy can play. If Texas II got to put on a show, Texas I had it a bit tougher, but still came out on top. Damien Tasby (6'-5" Jr. G) had about 15 points, and played a great game. He's tall, smooth, can hit the three, and was very impressive. Mario Hamilton (6'-7" Sr. F) who will attend prep school next year, also was very impressive. He was smooth, fast and proved he was a big time player, blocking shots, scoring inside and out. Jeremy McNeil (6'-9" Jr. C) also impressed us with his athleticism and shot blocking ability as well as his eye for the basket inside.

There were a bunch of other big time players who were impressive today, and we'll just give you the names of a few. Demarr Johnson (6'-9" Jr. F/C) from DC Assault and Keith Bogans (6'-5" Jr. F) from DeMatha were two standouts. Demarr proved that he's one of the top prospects in the country going into next year, as there's not much he can't do. Hopefully someone from the west coast will pick him up. BWBA I had Jimmy Miggins (6'-7" Sr. F) from Arlington, and we heard he played well, but didn't get to see him. We really wanted to stay to see Kyle Dodd (6'-0" Jr. PG) from Brea-Olinda who will take over McMillian's duties next season, as well as Imran Sufi (6'-0" Jr. SG) of Mater Dei and "Spencer Glover (6'-5" Jr. SG/SF) from Santa Margarita, but we missed their game today. Maybe tomorrow.

From there we went over to Dominguez High, to check out the younger group, including the Southern California All-Stars, which is now apparently a combo-team of players garnered by Pat Barrett and Rich Goldberg of ARC. Couldn't wait for their game, but did catch a little bit of the ABC team's game against some kids I really couldn't identify. If you want to see some of the better underclassmen go at it though, check out the Slam-N-Jam tourney at Dominguez and Compton tomorrow.

From there went over to Verbum to catch a bit of Rockfish, where we chatted with Mark Mayemura about the league, summer travel ball plans, how hard it really is to do the "web" thing for everyone but Clark Francis who is probably the only person actually making a living off of this type of stuff. At least he seems to be making a living, but we don't know. When we got there, the Marlins with Russell Lakey (5'-10 So. PG) Harvard Westlake, A.J. Diggs (5'-8" So. PG) St. Anthony, Washum Dashiell (6'-3" Jr. G) Verbum Dei, and Jake Dederer (6'-9" Jr. C) Peninsula H.S., not to mention Shelton Diggs (6'-3" Sr. G) from Long Beach Poly, were getting ready to take on the Barracudas which featured Koko Archibong (6'-7 1/2" Jr. F) from Pasadena Poly, Nick Booker (6'-5" So. G/F) from The Bishop's School in La Jolla and some other guys including Nick Dodson (6'-7" So. F) who was filling in for either Scott Borchart from Chaminade or J.J. Todd, neither of whom played (J.J probably didn't play because Mike stole his shoes :-), but that's yet another story again).

Booker was by far the most impressive player for the Barracudas, followed by Archibong. Nick is a sort of wide, strong body, who can spot up from the perimeter, take it inside, penetrate, drive or dish, and he's got pretty good court vision. Archibong, is tall, wiry and thin, but has great accuracy and also has the ability to play defense. Dodson on the other hand looked really young and was getting pushed all over the place. For the Marlins, Lakey played a credible game, driving well, but often getting caught with nowhere to go, cheifly because none of his teammates were flaring at the forward spots to relieve the pressure inside when he drove the lanes. The result was far more turnovers than a good point like Russel should see in most games. Jake Dederer was a big surprise, and if he can add some pounds and muscle, he'll be a definite D-I prospect in a while. He's got great agility and good shot blocking skills and he can hit the mid range jumper too. Not bad for a 6'-9" guy. Washum had about 1/3 of the points with the other 1/3 going to Shelton Diggs, who, by the way, confirmed that he is looking at Boise State.

During the second half of this game,who should walk in but the Pump-N-Run team, coached by Dave Goosen from Venice and there was Gil Arenas and his dad with a bunch of the other guys; Gil was still wearing his Top Prospects jersey from earlier in the day. They were greeted at the door by the other Mike Miller, the coach of LA City College and his assistant Wendell Westbrook, who were out scouting. Apparently they'd come out to see Keron Wilkerson (6'-4" Sr. G/F) from North Hollywood High, who was supposed to be playing for the Marlins, but he apparently didn't have a ride over to Verbum. So Gil Sr. borrowed my cellular phone, and called Keron up and asked him to come over and play with the Pump-N-Run team. Mike Miller (of LACC) was dying to see Keron. He also told us that he's really high on Dejon Lee, who's probably one of the most underrecruited players in all of SoCal.

We didn't get a chance to see the Pump-N-Run team play but they were supposed to be playing Central Cal Sports Express because their game with Dinos Trigonis' Belmont Shore team (Casey Jacobsen, Scottie Stern, Julius Barns, Chris Ferguson, Chris Clark, Ryan Stacey, Travon Bryant, Andrew Zahn) was apparently switched, which made for an interesting matchup, because Central Cal features Nick Jones and B.J. Ward both of Santa Clara, who also normally play for the Pump-N-Run team with Arenas. Oh well, we're sure they straightened it out.

We'll have more tomorrow, provided we can get down there if it doesn't rain too much. Later.

The Swish Award
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