Talent pool runs deep for sophomore guards in the Southland

The class of 2015 is making its mark, beginning with Tyler Dorsey of St. John Bosco, Marcus LoVett Jr. of Providence and Aaron Holiday of Campbell Hall. Their efforts are sure to draw college recruiters from afar and, ideally, nearby.

Tyler Dorsey

Tyler Dorsey of St. John Bosco protects the ball from Brandon Staton of Long Beach Poly during their game on Feb. 2. (Dan Krauss / For The Times / February 7, 2013)

Get ready for an invasion of private jets arriving from Lexington, Ky.; Durham, N.C.; Gainesville, Fla.; and elsewhere carrying college basketball coaches hoping to woo a growing group of talented guards from the high school class of 2015.

The days when Southern California wasn't represented at the McDonald's All American Game will be a thing of the past thanks to an infusion of young talent from the Inland Empire to the San Fernando Valley.

College recruiters already have their eyes on three sophomore guards who have established themselves as elite national prospects — Tyler Dorsey of Bellflower St. John Bosco, Marcus LoVett Jr. of Burbank Providence and Aaron Holiday of North Hollywood Campbell Hall.

But there are others closing in on the top three.

They include Sedrick Barefield of Corona Centennial, Myles Franklin of Newhall Hart and Stephen Thompson Jr. of Torrance Bishop Montgomery.

Then there's Max Hazzard of Los Angeles Loyola, Kendall Small of Huntington Beach Ocean View, Kenny Smith Jr. of Westlake Village Oaks Christian, Jeremy Hemsley of La Verne Damien and Kyle Leufroy of La Canada St. Francis.

Other sophomores making an impact at the varsity level include Cesar Reyes of Sun Valley Poly, Tristan Hunter of Perris, Justin Simon of Corona Roosevelt, Alex Copeland of Studio City Harvard-Westlake, Nick Anderson of Anaheim Canyon, Tyler Burch of Ocean View, Ke'jhan Feagin of Long Beach Poly, Rex Pflueger of San Juan Capistrano JSerra, Kahlil Simplis of Campbell Hall and Lindsey Drew of Los Angeles Fairfax.

"The 2015 class may be as good a class as there is in the country," UCLA assistant coach Scott Garson said.

Many of the sophomores have known each other for years.

"The competition is really good," Hart's Franklin said. "I know 99% of the sophomores. We've played against each other since sixth grade."

Franklin, a 6-foot point guard, has helped raise his profile by leading Hart to a 24-1 record, averaging 18 points a game.

"He sees the floor so well," Hart Coach Tom Kelly said. "He's so quick and fast. And he hasn't scratched the surface yet. I think he's as good as any of them."

LoVett and Holiday are scoring machines at small private schools. Holiday, the brother of Philadelphia 76ers guard Jrue Holiday, scored 48 points Tuesday night in a game against Calabasas Viewpoint. Dorsey has been St. John Bosco's starting point guard, facing the toughest competition in Southern California week after week. He's gaining fans and supporters because of the way he has handled the challenges.

As shooters go, Bishop Montgomery's Thompson will be tough to duplicate. His three-point shooting skills will be much in demand and have helped the Knights to a 26-0 record.

Barefield is another sophomore with explosiveness, poise and confidence.

Combine the sophomore guards with the junior class that includes Jordan McLaughlin of Etiwanda, Parker Jackson-Cartwright of Loyola, Daniel Hamilton of St. John Bosco and Robert Cartwright of Flintridge Prep and you can understand why private jets could be lined up at airports across Southern California over the next two years.

The big question locally will be whether UCLA and USC can keep a few guards from leaving Southern California.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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