Summer is not an off-season; plenty of prep action for athletes, fans

Eric Sondheimer
Contact ReporterVarsity Times Insider
Summer a great time to see who's making improvements, which teams might emerge as best

Summer vacation is underway for high school students, but that hardly means it’s beach time, movie time or even video game time for prep athletes.

In some ways, teenage life in June, July and August can be busier than when school is in session, and for fans, it’s a great time to get an early peek at who’s making improvements and which teams might emerge as the best for the upcoming season.

In prep basketball, one of the top tournaments of the summer begins Monday at Fairfax High. Chino Hills faces Loyola in a 7:30 p.m. game.

If you want entertainment, go see Chino Hills’ Ball brothers, senior Lonzo, junior LiAngelo and freshman LaMelo. All three are expected to end up at UCLA.

Lonzo and LiAngelo are committed to the Bruins, but LaMelo is only 13 years old. In his first appearance with his brothers Tuesday, LaMelo scored 27 points, making five three-pointers.

“They’ve been preparing for this moment their whole lives,” Coach Steve Baik said of the Ball brothers playing together.

While other players leave for camps and competitions, the trio is sticking together this summer. Their father, LaVar, makes it clear he’s not concerned about individual player rankings that come out of camp appearances. He said it’s the opinion of UCLA Coach Steve Alford that matters most to him.

“The only rankings I care about is where Alford ranks my boys,” he said. “High school rankings are not what my boys are about. We have steps to take. We’re going one at a time.”

The Fairfax tournament, at least in the early rounds, will be fun to watch because most teams will be close to full strength.

Among the other teams entered:

— Defending state Division V champion Chatsworth Sierra Canyon, with Cody Riley, Deveral Ramsey and Ira Lee

— Santa Ana Mater Dei, with M.J. Cage and Santa Monica transfer Spencer Freedman

— Defending state Division IV champion Encino Crespi, with De’Anthony Melton

— Windward, with Shareef O’Neal, Shaquille’s son

— Corona Centennial, with UCLA-bound Ike Anigbogu and top junior Jalen Hill

— Mission Hills Bishop Alemany, with the duo of Shacquille Dawkins and Daron Henson

— Defending City Section champion Fairfax

— Orange Lutheran

— Santa Monica

— Long Beach Poly

— Pasadena Maranatha

The travel ball season will pick up steam in July, with everyone headed to Las Vegas at the end of the month for tournament action.

Football seven-on-seven passing tournaments are plentiful. This weekend, the Conejo Valley tournament will take place at Thousand Oaks and Newbury Park. On Sunday, there’s a 16-team tournament at StubHub Center in Carson featuring Long Beach Poly, Santa Margarita, Loyola, Narbonne and Westlake, among others.

On June 26-27, Bonita is hosting a tournament in La Verne. Then comes the top tournament of the summer on July 11 at Huntington Beach Edison, where Corona Centennial, Mater Dei and Bellflower St. John Bosco are among the teams entered. On July 18, Huntington Beach has a tournament that includes Crespi and Tesoro.

The first day of official football practice is Aug. 3.

In boys’ volleyball, the national junior championships take place June 28-July 5 in Columbus, Ohio.

In girls’ volleyball, the national junior championships begin Tuesday in New Orleans.

In prep baseball, the Area Code Games are set for Aug. 4-11 at Blair Field in Long Beach. The games feature top pro prospects for the 2016 draft.

Twitter: @LATSondheimer

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