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Rialto's Eisenhower High School--(November 9, 1997)

"I want the maximum out of each kid; push the ball and shoot it."--Steve Johnson

Johnson is the head coach at Rialto's Eisenhower High School, the defending Citrus Belt League Champions. The Citrus Belt League features some pretty good competition, including A.B. Miller (where Travis Reed now of UCLA lit it up last year), Colton, Fontana, Redlands and Rialto. The Eisenhower team averaged more than 85 points per game last season, and this year's current squad, playing as a unit at the Fall Slam-N-Jam, defeated Dominguez, surprising a lot of people. They've won the league 4 out of the last six years, made the playoffs each year, and are always a dangerous team.

Johnson is a very, very soft spoken guy. He's clearly proud of his accomplishments, and of this year's current crop of players, whom he thinks may be the best yet. He's in his sixth year as a teacher and coach at Ike. He joined the staff there starting as the head basketball coach after graduating from Cal State University of San Bernardino; he also attended San Diego Mesa where he was a 6'-4" SG/F himself. He's got a brother who's also 6'-4", and currently playing at CSUSB after transferring from Oregon State last year where he also played. He's really enjoying himself, and says that it's really a lot of fun to coach the kind of talented kids he's had at Ike. He's expecting big things again this year, and Ike could challenge Crenshaw for Div. 1AA honors in the Regionals this year.

Johnson will play a quick, fast-break up tempo game, and his guards will shoot, shoot, and then shoot some more; his post guys can play, and the guards will create opportunities for them; they won't just depend on getting the ball to the post, and teams that do, will have a lot of trouble with Ike. Ike's got the speed to push the ball, and the shooters to pull it off.

The team:

Trenell Eddings (5'-10" Jr. PG)
Paul Jourdain (6'-0" Sr. SG)
Darius Davis (6'-2" Sr. SG/F)
Andre Williams (6'-9" Sr. C)
Mike Jones (6'-3" R. C 200 lbs.)
Roc Cameron (6'-0" Sr. G)
Koeppel Hall (5'-9" Sr. G)
Deonte Gilmer (6'-4" Jr. SG/F)
Calvin Afualo (6'-2" Jr. G)
Dustin Jourdain (6'-0" Soph G)
Bobby Wilson (6'-3" Soph G)

There may be a few others by the time the season starts, but the roster is pretty well set for now. Curiously, Wayne Tinsley, who was reported on at the Spring Slam-N-Jam tourney (as a 6'-6" Jr. as of May, 1997) as being from Eisenhower is not on this year's team, and is either off the squad, or has transferred, or has had some other difficulty. I didn't ask, and Johnson didn't say, but I'm sure that whoever reviews this team next will let us all in on it (go for it Michael).

Trenell Eddings will be the floor general on this team. He's probably one of the best points ever at Ike, and possibly in the Citrus League, and maybe in the area. He was All-League last year, and Johnson believes he could be All-CIF this year. He's very quick, has an incredible handle, and loves to shoot too. He's probably the main reason that Ike beat Dominguez over the summer. He averaged more than 10 assists per game last year, more than 3 steals, and he should easily dominate in league play this year. He's not gotten a lot of attention from many schools yet, but is getting some D-I interest, and should be a top prospect by the end of this season, going into his senior year. He should also easily qualify academically and he's got about a 3.5 GPA according to Johnson.

Paul Jourdain is certainly one of the best shooting guards in the Inland Empire. He averaged 14 ppg last year, has a great first step, and according to Johnson has a "whole game"; he was one of the reasons that Ike's team last year averaged 85 ppg. His specialty is the perimeter, but he can also penetrate, and can break down a D off the dribble.

Darius Davis, at 6'-2" will probably see more time at the forward spot, or wing, and he's also the best shooter on the team. In the playoffs last year against Ayala, in only a few minutes he shot four consecutive 3 pointers coming off the bench in the last few minutes of the game. He averaged 10 ppg last season, and is also carrying about a 3.5 GPA.

At center will be Andrea Williams, who at 6'-9" has improved tremendously from last year. And that's saying a lot. Last year he broke the school record in blocked shots playing only about 7 minutes per game. His footwork is getting better, and for a tall, slender kid, he's remarkably strong under the basket. He's a kind of "catch and dunk" player, who rebounds well and generally puts on a show when the guards create for him. But he can also make his own opportunities and is pretty mobile. Look for him to play the high post, and Mike Jones to play the low 5 spot.

Jones at 6'-3" and 200 lbs is really a center in a guard/forward body. He's a pretty wide-body kind of player and last year didn't get a lot of minutes. But he's a good inside player, can score in the paint effectively, and is an excellent offensive and defensive rebounder.

Roc Cameron played a lot last year, and Johnson calls him the best pure athlete on the team: He's the fastest player at Ike. Eddings is fast, but Cameron is realllly faaaast. "He's the fastest kid I've ever coached," says Johnson. He's not quite the shooter that Eddings is, but with his speed, he can create opportunities for the others. He is pretty effective and can consistently hit the three, although his mid-range jumper is not as consistent as Johnson would like.

Koeppel Hall is the best defender on the team, and also shoots well. He didn't get a lot of playing time last year either, but this year, Johnson really has 6 or 7 guards who he'll rotate in and out very regularly. He doesn't think it's real important who will start, because he thinks the shooting is so good, that other teams will just have incredible difficulty matching up defensively.

The role-players are likely to include Deonte Gilmer, a returning varsity player from last year, who Johnson says "will play a lot this year". At 6'-4" he provides some needed height inside and around the baseline perimeter, and he can rebound well, as well as score from the low post.

Calvin Afualo is a shooter, who's most effective from the corners. He's a very good athlete, has nice footwork, and plays good defense. Dusting Jourdain (Paul's younger brother) probably will see some time, as will Bobby Wilson off the bench.

You might notice that there are no freshmen on this team. Johnson believes that you don't really win with freshman, and that you can tell the quality of a team by the play of the seniors, and to a lesser extent the juniors. He believes in developing his players, and thinks that it's important for younger players to get lots of playing time. "That doesn't happen by throwing a freshman into pressure situations and then having him sit a lot so the seniors can play; that's what freshman and JV ball are about."

This Ike team certainly has the talent to win the league and to go deep into the playoffs. Just how far will depend upon how hard his players want it and whether they've really got the talent to challenge traditional powers like Crenshaw. Johnson will demand the maximum from his kids, will ask them to push it up. From what we know of them, they'll probably do it.

The Swish Award
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