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SoCal Prep Preview and Report

Andy Davis, Lafitte, and Washington-(October 30, 1997)

"Once a Washington General, always a Washington General"---Andy Davis

Andy Davis is the co-coach of Los Angeles Washington Preparatory High School, along with Dave Johnson. Davis has been at Washington for the last 21 years, and he's been the varsity basketball coach for the last 13 years. Davis grew up in Nachitoches, Louisiana (on the Mississippi river close by Shreveport), where he played baseball and basketball at Central High. Davis attended Southern University where he continued his basketball and baseball careers, although he says he was "really a baseball player". After graduation he got a job in baseball, migrated to the west coast, and landed a job as an assistant coach at Washington, where he's been ever since. His co-coach, Dave Johnson played high school basketball under Davis at Washington ("once a General, always a General"), and played college basketball at California State University at Sonoma. He and Davis have been coaching together for the last 5 years.

Davis believes this could be the most competitive year he's seen in high school basketball in SoCal. He was quick to acknowledge that Washington's got some pretty stiff competition this year: The Southern Pacific Conference, divided into two leagues, features some of the toughest competition in Los Angeles (maybe the toughest anywhere in SoCal with the exception of Compton and Dominguez) including perennial powerhouse and defending State CIF Division I Champions Crenshaw, who defeated Alameda St. Joseph in 1996-97 by four points last year. Teams in the Conference include: Pacific League--Banning, Carson, Narbonne, and San Pedro; Southern League--Crenshaw, Dorsey, Gardena, and Washington.

Washington returns three starters this year. Davis was very candid in telling me that he's still in the evaluation process, and he and Johnson haven't made their final decisions about who's going to be on varsity and who may get moved to the jv. Anyway, here's the current roster:

BJ. Lafitte (6'-3" Sr SG)
Curtis Slaughter (6'-5" Sr SG/PG)
Rodney Patrick (6'-5" Sr. F)--Davis says he's really only 6'-4" 1/2
Henry Watts ( 5'-8" Sr. PG)
Nemia Campbell (6'-3" Jr. SG/F)
Thad Downs (6'-7" Sr. C)
James Calhoun (6'-3" Sr. SG/F)
Rodney Anderson (5'-9" Jr. PG)
Lewis Woods (5'-10" Jr. G)
Antoine Parker (5'-9" Fr. PG)
Demetrious Bonier (6'-3" Jr. G)

Washington has two definite senior "stars" on its roster this year:

B.J. Lafitte, (6'-3" Sr SG) and Curtis Slaughter, (6'-5" Sr PG/SG/SF). Davis told me that while some people describe Curtis as the best jumper, he really thinks that BJ has the better hops and leaping ability. He also said that he intends to use Slaughter at the 1 spot this year which should make for some really interesting matchups clearly favoring Slaughter, who at 6'-5" would have a definite advantage over many smaller points. And I've seen Slaughter jump, and personally I think that Slaughter may be able to jump higher. Care to run a contest guys? BJ, on the other hand is a great 3 point shooter, has a nice j, and is a great rebounder too, even though he's more of a perimeter player. Both of them will lend their varsity leadership experience this year, and should be major D-I prospects.

Rodney Patrick is a also great rebounder, a hard worker, and has pretty good hands. He's definitely a top D-I prospect and WSU is looking at him hard this year, along with several other west coast schools. Look for him to start.

Henry Watts has improved a lot over the summer, and will be the playmaker at point. He's a "pass-first" kind of player with the handle to break down a defense, and can shoot the j out to three-point range, although he's much more effective as a passer. He's getting some attention from D-II and DIII schools, although he might make a nice D-I prospect at a WCC, Big Sky, or WAC school if he can improve some more this season.

Campbell was described by Davis as a "nice shooter", "very smart" and a "student of the game". He's certainly a potential starter on this team, and will see lots of time on the floor.

Thad Downs, is the "big" man for Washington, and at 6'-7" they'll need every inch of him, especially against a team like Crenshaw, who can throw at you guys like Ryan Sims (6'-6") Osadon Esene (6'-6") Armond Thomas (6'-7") and Shaun Hemsley (6'-9"). Davis described Downs as a "raw talent", with "lots of potential" who's getting some inquiries from a few colleges. . .translation: He needs work. I haven't seen him over the summer, but will look forward to seeing just how much potential he has.

James Calhoun will see a lot of time at the 3 spot. He shoots pretty well, but his real strong point is defense, and he's pretty quick laterally. At 6'-3" he can also put a body on someone and has shown pretty decent footwork.

Also at the 3-4 spot this year look for Demetrious Bonier, another 6'-3" guy. He's up from jv where last year he was a solid playmaker. He can really rebound, but will need to bulk up a bit this year to really become effective inside.

Washington has a nice group of reserve guards in Rodney Anderson, Lewis Woods and Antoine Parker. Parker is a freshman and Davis simply described him as "top recruit". He's played a lot of traveling team ball (most recently with BBall Inner City, which played last week at the Slam-n-Jam Super Frosh-Soph Tournament, losing in the finals to the Top Prospects team. Antoine's got a lot of potential, plays tremendous d, and can also shoot well. Anderson will probably be first this year to back up Watts at point. He's a fiery type of player, who plays solid d, can penetrate and score. Look for Woods at the 2 spot; he's a great perimeter shooter, with an outstanding three point shot.

Remember, this stuff is all tentative, and the starting line up may be completely different. Davis told me that he's still in his evaluation process, and is going to have to work hard to get the team down to 15 players; he's considering lots more guys than just those listed here. He told me that he didn't mean to leave anyone off the list (so if your name's not included it doesn't mean anything), but he was pressed for time when we talked, and didn't have his rosters with him, so the actual roster may be totally different. . . then again it may not.

Can Washington get past the 'Shaw? Who knows. Davis thinks that every team in the league will present a challenge. He's not worried about the playoffs; he's been to the playoffs more times than he could recount. He just wants to take it one battle at a time: Once a General, always a General.

The Swish Award

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