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High School Preview: Compton
Dominguez High --(December 1, 1997)

This is the big time. Defending Division II State Champions. Coached by Russell Otis. who's been at Dominguez now for 10 years. It really doesn't seem right, somehow, to even talk about league play with this team. Somehow, it seems, well, sort of , I don't know, almost beneath them to simply talk about the teams they play in the league in the same breath. . .
Dominguez, Downey, Gahr, Lynwood, Paramount, Warren. . . somehow, it just doesn't sound right. You want to talk about this team with Compton, Westchester, Fairfax, Artesia, Long Beach Jordan, Mater Dei, Alameda St. Joseph, Rice from New York, Mercersburg, Mt. Zion, De Matha. You know. The great ones.

Russell Otis is the head coach at Dominguez High in Compton, and he's been there for 10 years now, since 1987. He went to high school and played at Dominguez, attended Southern Utah, and came straight back to Dominguez where he started as the soph coach. Dominguez won a CIF title in 1988, won a state championship last year in Division II, defeating Shasta 85-52. They'll be playing tomorrow night, Tuesday December 2, at 6:30 pm against a strong Perris team, and that game will be followed by Compton v. Bishop Montgomery. No better time than the present to do our preview of Dominguez.

This school has a sort of mystique about it. Some call it a "Nike School". At least 60 Minutes did. There's a pretty strong connection to Pat Barrett's Southern California All Stars program, and this year, Dominguez will feature a bunch of his former players, including Keilon Fortune and Tyson Chandler, two of the most exciting freshmen to come along in quite some time.

The roster this year includes:

12--Janal Johnson (5'-8" Sr. 160 lb PG)
11--Tony Cole (5'-9" Sr. 155 lb PG)
5----Kelion Fortune (5'-10" 140 lb PG)
10--Jaffus Haley (5'-10" Jr. 170 lb G)
3----Willie Hurst (5'-10" Sr. 195 lb PG)
31---Keith Kincade (6'-4" Jr. 170 lb. G/F)
23---Michael Carson (6'-5" Sr. 165 lb. G)
30---James Boulton (6'-5" Sr. 170 lb. F)
4-----Keith Brooks (6'-5" So. 220 lb. F)
24-- Walt Small (6'-5" Sr. 220 lb. F)
33-- Jason Thomas (6'-5" 225 lb. G/F)
21-- Tayshaun Prince (6'-8" Sr. 190 lb. G/F)
32-- Tyson Chandler (7'-0" Fr. 205 lb. C)

Tyson has apparently grown two inches in the last two months. At this rate he just might be taller than Geohrge Muresean by the time he graduates. . . if he graduates. There's actually talk of him going to the NBA before he finishes high school. We think that's a lot of exaggeration and that his mom just wouldn't stand for that. But what do we know. Tyson is a very unassuming player, very modest and quiet. He's got a pretty complete game already. A very composed player, who is very confident, and well, you just can't teach height like this. He's going to be the major star of his generation.

Tayshaun Prince recently disappointed a lot of SoCal fans with his announcement that he would sign for Kentucky next year. Many felt that he had misled UCLA's coaching staff, that he had been unfair with the fans in LA and SoCal, and that he and his family had some sort of secret agenda which they were playing out in order to get even for the way in which many (including the Prince family) reportedly felt about the way UCLA had dealt with brother Tommie Prince (who was recruited but ultimately rejected by UCLA, who went to ASU but was "asked to leave", and who now plays for former UCLA assistant and now head Pepperdine Coach Lorenzo Romar, who was in part responsible for his recruitment at UCLA. . . but that's a story unto itself, not for now). Forget all that. This is about now. It's about basketball. And Tayshaun can play. He can play wherever he wants. Just get out of the way and let the rest of us watch and enjoy it. Tayshaun can play anywhere. Really. He's big, strong, has a great inside and outside game, can hit the three, slam dunk, jump out of the gym, dribble and handle the ball. Really. He can play anywhere. On this team he'll play mostly at the 1 or 2 spot, but he could play center if he wanted to. And he may when Tyson's not in. Which won't be very often if Tyson has anything to say about it.

This team has a ton of players. Jason Thomas, a football scholarship player for USC next year, will walk on to the USC basketball team next season. He's supposedly fully recovered from his football injuries and will be back up to full strength for the basketball season. At 6'-4" and 225, he's an amazing athlete, very quick, with an exploding first step, and he can score either from the fast-break or the set offense off the dribble.

Dominguez is loaded with other great players too. Keith Kincade, a 6'-4" shooting guard/small forward, is a great shooter, who can hit the three consistently, loves to cut to the basket and plays great defense. Walter Small, another of the wide-body bug 6'-5" forwards at Dominguez is a great inside player who is only getting better. He's got nice inside footwork, knows how to use his body, and can score almost at will down low. Another big inside player will be Keith Brooks, who at 220 is a very strong player, a tough rebounder and a nice low post player. Also down low at the forward spot will be Boulton a terrifically talented defender.

In the backcourt, in addition to Tayshaun, who will play both front and back courts, Dominguez has whole boatload of other talented guards. Mike Carson is one of the bigger guards, at 6'-5", and on most other teams he'd be a power forward or even a post player. He's not particularly fast or quick as a shooter, and tends to shoot from a sort of "set" shot. . . it's not really a set, but he tends to wait to size up the shot, and draw the defender in before throwing it up; sort of like a Michael Jordan, but without the real explosiveness off the dribble. He's also a terrific defender. In addition to Carson, there's Janal Johnson, Tony Cole and freshman sensation Keilon Fortune, as well as Jaffus Haley, each and every one of whom would be a starter on any other team. This is a whole team of starters. Willie Hurst also plays football, and at 195, he's one of the stronger, bigger-bodied guys at this position. Janal Johnson is a pure point, a passer more than a shooter, who likes to dish and distribute the ball to the open player. Jaffus Haley is a fine shooter, and will see some playing time off the bench in some of the more lopsided victories which Dominguez will undoubtedly have this year. And Keilon, again, is just sensational and will be Dominguez' point guard of the future. No, he could be the point of the present if not for Tony Cole.

Dominguez will be playing in a lot of preseason tournaments, some of the most prestigious in the country. In addition to the Reebok Compton Tip-Off Classic tomorrow night, December 2, Dominguez will also be at the Ft. Myers, Florida Barnett Bank/City of Palms Classic, December 18- 22, 1997 at Bishop Verot High School. This is a very large tournament featuring some of the best teams in the US, and will feature University of San Diego High with the Waltons as well. Dominguez will open against Slidell High, from Slidell, LA, and Rick Spring, the Slidell Coach, is anxiously looking for information on this team. We've got some info on Slidell for coach Otis too, but he's going to have to ask for it. . . Are you listening Russell?

Dominguez is not playing in the Best in the West Tourney, instead electing to go to the Slam Dunk to the Beach Tournament. This tourney is probably one of the premiere events in the country, played in Lewes, Delaware from December 26-30, 1997. The Tournament will feature teams from Delaware, Maryland, D.C. area, New Jersey and Philadelphia, and Alameda-St. Joseph, Ca in addition to Dominguez. A great show.

Dominguez is going to challenge again for the title this year, and they'll probably do it again. Unless of course some team like Perris knocks them off. Don't count on that, but it would make for an interesting story, don't you agree?

The Swish Award

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