Casey Jacobsen was a McDonald's All-American during his days at Glendora High, averaging 32 points his senior year in 1999. Then he went on to Stanford and was a first-round NBA draft pick. Now a broadcaster for Time Warner Cable, he has been getting an up-close look at the rise of Chino Hills this season.
“This is one of the most unique teams I've seen at any level,” he said. “The style they play is unorthodox, it's difficult to prepare for. How do you simulate in practice, especially on short notice, what Chino Hills does?”
The Huskies, at 33-0, were set to play Torrance Bishop Montgomery late Saturday night for the Open Division Southern California Regional championship in Long Beach. The winner will advance to next Saturday's state championship game in Sacramento.
Some think Chino Hills' style of run and gun and trap and shoot from all over isn't exactly the way basketball is supposed to be played. But Jacobsen said there's nothing wrong with doing something that's working.
“There's more than one way to win a basketball game, and Chino Hills has found its way and nobody has stopped them,” he said. “Do they shoot some crazy shots? Yes. But they're OK with that. They don't get upset with each other.”
Jacobsen has been impressed with the development of 6-foot-9 freshman Onyeka Okongwu, who had a streak of 20 blocks in three games during the playoffs.
“That is remarkable,” he said. “I can't believe how much he has improved.”
While playing before one sellout after another (Saturday's game was sold out), Chino Hills is causing people to wonder if it can repeat its winning ways next season when Lonzo Ball graduates and moves on to UCLA.
“I don't think it's just a one-time thing, but it's going to be hard to duplicate the success without Lonzo because he's such a special talent,” he said. “They can play this way next year, but I'm predicting they won't be undefeated, especially if they play the same kind of national schedule.”
Asked if he would have liked to play the Chino Hills way, Jacobsen said, “I was a player always in attack mode and well-conditioned and enjoyed running. I would have loved to play with Lonzo.”
Follow Eric Sondheimer on Twitter: @LATSondheimer