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SoCalHoops Junior Class--
The Best of the Best: Power Forwards--(April 16,1998)

For this one, we had to create a new "Absolute Best" category, in addition to the "Best of the Best" and the "Rest of the Best", although a good argument can be made that we should have done that for the points (Shantay Legans) and the Shooting Guards (no doubt about it, Casey Jacobsen is the best). For the Power Forwards, we gave the "absolute" top two spots in the junior class to Raphael Berumen and Jason Kapono, although many would argue that Raphael is really more of a center, and Jason can play everything from the point to the 2, 3, 4 and Center. Ok, we had to put them somewhere, and this is where we chose to do it. So shoot us.

As with our other groups of juniors, we haven't ranked the players by number, because generally we think that's pretty silly and doesn't mean much. But we have culled through all the lists we compiled this year, gone through all the notes of the games we watched, reviewed the tapes we've seen, and picked those players who, in our view, were either the best, or who showed the most promise. The players are from Fresno in the North, to San Diego in the South. Generally what constitutes the Southern Region of CIF.

As we said before, we tried to put the players at what we viewed as their primary position, that is, the position we think they're best suited to play. The position may or may not be the one they played for most of the year; it may be the position they're now playing on a club team. But it's where we listed them anyway. That means that you may find someone who played a lot of point during the season listed in the shooting guards list, just because we thought he was a better SG than a PG. Don't worry, they're all still guards. Likewise, it may get really murky when we get to the taller "shooting guards" who can also double as "small forwards" or the "small forwards" who can double as "power forwards" or the big men who may seem like centers but who are really forwards because they don't yet have a really developed post game. So if you don't find someone you think should on one of the lists, try another list; you might find him at another position. Hey, we're trying, ok?

For the list of players which follows, what we mean by " power forward" is generally what you think it means: Someone who has the body of one of the largest players on the court, and who can generally play and shoot out to the wings, but who looks more like an inside player; someone who blocks down low well, but who does not generally play the post; not really a "back to the basket" guy, but more of a slashing rebounder and sometime scorer, both off a dribble, but mostly with a power move to the hole; not among the quickest players on the floor, but not the most lumbering either. You know, a "4" (although can often double as a three or a five).

All the players listed below are currently juniors and will become senior next season. Most have either been stats leaders, received varying degrees of attention from the basketball or general media, or are already established stars. Some are obviously not as well known: For those in the "Rest of the Best" category, we believe they've shown promise or potential, and could break out during the summer circuit or during their senior year and thus have the potential to attract the attention of the colleges at the D-I through NAIA levels. In other words, we believe they are all players.

All the listings are in alphabetical order. We have not assigned numerical rankings, but we have grouped the players into "Best", "Best of the Rest". But for those who are counting, the list is much smaller than the guard or small forward spots. There are only 44 players total on the list (as compared to 175 shooting guards), and only two made the "Absolute Best"; 12 are on the "Best" list. Almost everyone is good (it's hard to teach height, you know), many are journeymen players who have the potential to be a lot better. And a few are truly outstanding, but we just couldn't put them on the top. . . not yet.

Sure it's arbitrary as hell, but it's better, we think, than trying to assign numbers to a player. We hate numerical rankings, because they're arbitrary, and it's most often next to impossible to to distinguish between say player 25 and player 53; how much better is one than the other? Who really knows? But obviously some on our list are much better than some of the others. Likewise, some have gotten much more media attention than others, and some have been more heavily recruited than others. Indeed, some may not have been recruited at all or even been much noticed before.

Well, you be the judge. If there's someone we missed (and there are probably a few) let us know. And if you think someone doesn't belong on the list, let us know that too (but be nice; these are, after all still just kids). Either post a message on the board, or send us an e-mail.

The Absolute Best of the Best:

Rafael Berumen (6'-9" Jr. PF/C) Simi Valley Jason Kapono (6'-8" Jr. PF/SF/SG/PG) Artesia

The Next Best

McKenzie Dent (6'-6" Jr. F/C) Westchester J.J. Sola (6'-7" Jr. PF) Alia Viejo Aliso Niguel
Skip Esene (6'-6" Jr. PF/SF) Inglewood Ryan Sims (6'-8" Jr. F) L.A. Crenshaw
Noel Felix (6'-7" Jr. F) Inglewood Armand Thomas (6'-8" Jr. F) L.A. Crenshaw
Johnny Hardwick (6'-9" Jr. F) L.A. Manual Arts Jeremiah Turner (6'-7" Jr. F) LA Sylmar
Dalron Johnson (6'-9" Jr. PF/SG) Verbum Dei Carvel Wafer (6'-6" Jr. F/C) Fresno Washington Union
Shomari Sarpi (6'-9" Jr. PF/SF) Pomona Chris Williams (6'-8" Jr. F) Sherman Oaks Notre Dame

The Rest of the Best & Up and Coming:

Michael Ahmad (6'-8" Jr. PF) Glendora
Jason Anderson (6'-8" Jr PF/C) Van Nuys Montclair Prep
Todd Beights (6'-7" Jr. PF) San Diego La Costa Canyon
Bill Bloom (6'-6" Jr. F) San Diego Rancho Bernardo
Bill Curry (6'-8" Jr. F) Cypress
Justin Davis (6'-7" Jr. PF) Alhambra
Steven Hamilton (6'-9" Jr. PF/C) Upland
Mike Hausmann (6'-6" Jr. PF/C) La Jolla Bishop's School
Adam Hearlson (6'-7" Jr. PF/C) Newport Harbor
Jeff Henry (6'-8" Jr. F) Etiwanda
Gary Holmes (6'-6" Jr. PF/SF) Fontana
Danny Horan (6'-9" Jr. PF/C) Villa Park
David Jackson (6'-5" Jr. PF/SF) L.A. Jordan
Roderick Johnson (6'-7" Jr. PF/SF) Moreno Valley Canyon Springs
Lamar Kerr (6'-8" Jr. PF) Pomona
Dan Kinzer (6'-7" Jr. PF/C) Harvard-Westlake
Carl LaGrone (6'-4" Jr. PF/C) San Diego Lincoln
Scott Morrow (6'-7" Jr. PF/C) San Diego La Costa
John Mosley (6'-4" Jr. PF/C) Lakewood
Chris Murphy (6'-7" Jr. F/C) Fresno Hanford
David Peters (6'-8" Jr. F) Cathedral City
Eric Rowher ( 6'-8" Jr. F) Burbank
Daniel Sherman (6'-6" Jr. PF) Ayala
Mike Smith (6'-8" Jr. F) L.A. Tower
Paul Stewart (6'-9" Jr. F/C) Inglewood
Eric Torrez (6'-7" Jr. PF)
Naeem Walcott (6'-4" Jr. F/C) Artesia
Brice Watley (6'-5" Jr. F/C) Corcoran
Mike Zepeda (6'-9" Jr. PF/C) O.C. Century

The Swish Award
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