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SoCal High School & Prep Report

MLK Challenge: SoCalHoops'
Junior Player Recognition Selections--(January 21, 1998)

Here's our list of top Junior players from Monday's MLK Challenge, with stats and some commentary. Each of them stood out from the crowd in one way or another, and we think they're all deserving of some special attention:

Juniors Deserving of Special Recognition

Mike Bayer (6'-6' Jr. F), Mater Dei-- Mike is a big kid, with great hands, a very strong rebounder and a scoring threat inside. He had 14 points yesterday in the game against Anaheim. He had a couple of steals, played great defense coming in off the bench, but needs to work on his shot selection a bit. He is being brought along very well in the MD program, and should be a top pick by next season.

Craig Calloway (6'-1" Jr. G), Long Beach Jordan-- Craig is a very muscular, strong guard, who had a great game in a losing effort against Artesia yesterday. Craig scored 15 points, had four rebounds, and 1 assist. Look for him to be a major prospect next year in his class, as he develops and improves on his defensive consistency.

Keyon Cooley (6'-7" Jr. F), Long Beach Poly-- Keyon had a nice game, not spectacular, but in the upper half of his class in the MLK. He scored 9 points, had 2 rebounds, and 1 blocked shot, and helped the Jackrabbits come back from a dismal first half. In fact with less than 34 seconds to play, it was Cooley who hit a monster three point shot to tie the game and send it into overtime. Cooley was also responsible for putting LBP ahead during the overtime and he had a wonderful second half. One of the best in his class, he clearly deserves to be on this list.

Aaron Hamilton (6'-6" Jr. F), Artesia-- Aaron was not a big scorer yesterday, but did grab six rebounds to go along with his 5 points and three steals. Very mobile, agile, and coordinated, he's got the potential to be a big-time player as he continues to improve and develop this season. Look for him to only get better and better.

Neil Hammad (6'-3" Jr. SG), Anaheim Canyon-- Neil is a thin, wiry and athletic player who is meant for the perimeter. He doesn't (or shouldn't) do too much slashing to the hole, but will play very nicely from the outside. He's also a lightning quick defensive pressure guy, and yesterday in quick succession forced a couple of turnovers and two steals. He loves to shoot. Has reasonably good size for a shooting guard and a nice stroke.

Titus Hunt (6'-1" Jr. G), Redondo Union--we don't know for sure, but we'd guess that Titus is also a football player. He reminds us of Alex Holmes, or Anthony Garrison of Crenshaw: Big, huge legs, maybe even looking a bit overweight, but can run up and down the court all day, jump, shoot, with big soft hands, and great touch. Hope he sticks with basketball, because he has the tools to make it happen.

Casey Jacobsen (6'-6" Jr. F)--We just could not stick around to watch the Glendora v. Bell-Jeff game beyond the first half. We were on the verge of exhaustion, and given the new resolve to restore some balance in my life, I drew the line at more than 13 hours of straight solid basketball, since at 10:30 this game was just at the halftime break. But by then Jacobsen had already scored 20 points, and it was evident that he was going to personally just kill the young Bell-Jeff Guards. We'd seen Jacobsen before (at the Wooden Classic High School Invitational--read the review), and not much has changed except that he seems to have gotten a bit tougher and better. Definitely A-list.

Jason Kapono (6'-8" Jr. F/C), Artesia-- Jason is one of the best, if not the best junior forward/center big man in all of SoCal this year. He compare favorably to almost any other big junior, including Rafael Berumen of Simi Valley (who's team was not invited to the MLK, inexplicably). Kapono is mobile, agile, big, can dunk, block, and shoot, with quickness, and his fundamentals are tremendously developed. he scored 18 points against Jordan, had 6 rebounds and played just a great game. He's right at the top of the list in the junior class this year.

Matt Landers (6'-5" Jr. F), South Torrance-- ST doesn't have overwhelming size or scoring ability for that matter, but Landers showed that he's really in the same class as the better players from Redondo (perhaps excluding Zahn, and there aren't many others, even upperclassmen, who can play as well as Zahn, so that's a bit unfair). Landers scored 9 points against Redondo, had one blocked shot, and can get up and rebound well. He's got another year to get his game together, but he could do well at the next level.

Tito Maddox (6'-4" Jr. SG), Compton--Tito had just an "all right" game in terms of scoring, and he didn't get to "take over" the game like he was forced to do a couple of times in Vegas. He played well-above the level of most other juniors in the state, it's just that it was not up to his usually spectacular level of play. He had 12 points, 2 steals and 2 rebounds in the victory over USDHS, and was instrumental in a run in the second quarter and then again late in the game. Tito is a smooth, quick and explosive player who will be a top prospect after this season.

Derrick Mansell (6'-0" Jr. G), Mater Dei-- Derrick is going to be one of the top picks in SoCal by the time he's a senior. He scored 20 points yesterday against Anaheim, and is a consitently good inside and outside shooter. He's also a great shooter from the line. He's not particularly big, but he's quick, with great defensive and offensive skills. Can take a player off the dribble or spot up from the perimeter. Good rebounder. A lot of potential which Gary McKnight is developing nicely.

Marcus Moore (6'-4" Jr. F), Redondo Union--Marcus and Tyler make a great backcourt combination when they're working together. Marcus is a little bit beefier and less willowy than Tyler, and is just as good a shooter, although his shots were mostly from around 10'-18' range, and in close, cutting and slashing to the hole. In yesterday's game against South Torrance he had 10 points, 10 assists, and 7 steals. A great player.

Chris Osborne (6'-9" Jr. F/C), Westchester-- He played well in in the first half, providing a presence in the lane and keeping the game from getting out of hand with Tayshaun, Small, and Tyson starting to dominate, but in the second half, he got into foul trouble, along with Miller, Bluthenthal, and Jamal Sampson. Overall he had 7 points and 4 rebounds, but was pretty much shut down in the second half, managing only 3 points and 1 rebound. Still, Osborne managed to keep Thomas occupied, and even if he couldn't stop Tyson or Tayshuan, he did keep Thomas from scoring more than 3 points in the game, a major effort. Definitely on the A-list.

Darren Petersen (6'-4" Jr. SG/SF), Long Beach Jordan-- LBJ may have the most consistently good junior class, across the board for next year. For now though they are really more about the possibilities that might be. Darren is another one of those players who could be a top pick next year. He scored 10 points (a little less than 1/4 of the total for LBJ) against tremendous pressure defense from Artesia. He also had 5 rebounds, and two steals. A good, solid player, with good size and speed.

Stanley Thorne (5'-10" Jr. PG/SG), Fairfax-- Stanley hit for 8 points in the game against Long Beach Poly, and this littlest guy for the Fax had a decent, but not great game. So why is he listed among the best from the MLK? Because he just is one of the best. He did have three assists, and we personally counted at least three turnovers he forced, but which were not recorded on the "official" stats, because they didn't track those. Stanley has the potential to be a big-time player and he drove the Lions to their first half lead over a very slow and painful to watch Poly team in the first half. Still on our list and getting better.

David Word (5'-9" Jr. G), Long Beach Jordan-- David is a very quick little guard, with fine shooting ability, whose main contributions yesterday were defensive, and he played a very good game, marred only by the fact that he didn't score very much. He did grab 5 rebounds, an impressive statistic considering that Travon Bryant, his teammate grabbed another 10. David had two steals as well in a fine effort. Look for him to gain more consistency with more playing time over this year and next.

Don Yu (5'-9" Jr. PG), Anaheim Canyon-- Don is probably too small for most major D-1 programs, (but then look at some of the other small guards in D-I, so who knows). He's a very quick passer, great hands, nice footwork for a guard, and is a threat to shoot from outside. But he's a pass-first, shoot second type of guard, and while this didn't really help his team yesterday, he did pick up four assists to go along with his 4 points. He's got this year and another full year to impress some folks. We have no idea if he even wants to play college ball, or what his educational aspirations are, but he would fit in very nicely anywhere.

The Swish Award
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