The 12th edition of The Times' All-Orange County basketball team has a distinctive Pacific-10 Conference flavor, featuring four players who have signed national letters of intent to play in the conference next season.
Brea-Olinda's Kevin Walker (UCLA), Saddleback's Bryant Walton (Cal), Katella's Bob Erbst (USC) and Mater Dei's Stuart Thomas (Stanford) head the list of selections.
The team also includes the county's best point guard, Nathan Call of Capistrano Valley, and Mater Dei's graceful junior center, LeRon Ellis, who is projected by some as the state's best center next season.
The 10-player squad is considered the most talented since the all-star team's inception in 1975 with only the 1981 team featuring Wayne Carlander (USC), Johnny Rogers (UC Irvine), Tony Neal (Cal State Fullerton) and Scott Sinek (Brigham Young) approaching it in terms of quality.
"The Class of '81 in Orange County had some quality players, but it didn't come close to the depth of this year's all-stars," said Don Mead, who runs a high school scouting service for 169 colleges.
"There are more players in the county this year who have signed with Division I schools than any previous year," Mead said. "This was the best year ever."
Walton, a 6-foot 4-inch guard, is considered the most versatile player. He was among the county leaders in four categories, averaging 24.3 points per game, 11.2 rebounds, 6.4 assists, and shooting 56% from the field.
Walker, a 6-10 center, is rated as one of the country's best-shooting big men. He established school records for single-game, season and career scoring marks. Walker, a three-year starter, averaged 26.7 points and shot 51% with excellent range.
Erbst, a 6-9 forward with the moves of a guard, averaged 21.5 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Knights to the CIF Southern Section 3-A division semifinals.
Thomas, also a 6-9 forward, lost only one game in two seasons at Mater Dei. The Monarchs compiled a 59-1 record and won two 5-A division titles.
Three players--Walker, Erbst and Ricky Butler of Ocean View--are repeat selections from last season's team. Butler and Ellis are the only underclassmen on the team.
The selections were based on ballots from the county's coaches. The players were chosen on the basis of their ability, regardless of class or position.
The players, along with their parents and coaches, will be the guests of The Times at an awards brunch at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 12, at the Disneyland Hotel. The guest speaker will be Jim Harrick, who has led Pepperdine University to four West Coast Athletic Conference titles the past five years.
The county's player of the year and coach of the year will be announced at the awards presentation.
Here are the player profiles of The Times' 1985-86 All-Orange County team:
Ricky Butler (Ocean View): Butler averaged 16.2 points, 11.5 rebounds and shot 62.5%. He was named to all-tournament teams at the San Dimas Tournament of Champions and the King Cotton Classic, a national tournament in Pine Bluff, Ark. that included eight of country's best teams. Butler outplayed heralded J.R. Reid of Kempsville, Va., in a head-to-head meeting in Pine Bluff.
"To say the least it was a great year for Ricky," said Jim Harris, Ocean View coach. "He learned to shoot outside and showed he can face the basket. His stock went way up by shooting 62%, and those weren't all layups. He faced adversity and did a lot of growing up this year."
Nathan Call (Capistrano Valley): The Cougars won 100 games in four years with Call on the varsity. He averaged 13 points, 8.8 assists and 4.2 steals this season and was generally regarded as the county's best point guard over the past two seasons.
"We won 12 league games by an average margin of 18 points and three playoff games by an average of 27 points," said Mark Thornton, Capistrano Valley coach. "We had four players average in double figures. All of them can thank Nathan for their success."
LeRon Ellis (Mater Dei): Ellis, the son of former Laker star LeRoy Ellis, was a pleasant surprise for the Monarchs after transferring from Parkrose High in Portland. Ellis averaged 14.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and shot 51% from the field. He established himself as the county's best center in the playoffs and was named the most valuable player in the Southern Section's championship tournament.
"From Day One until now, I've never had a player who improved so much in one season as LeRon did," said Gary McKnight, Mater Dei coach. "Next year, he'll rank with any center in the nation. He's so agile and graceful, you sometimes forget he's 6-10."
Bob Erbst (Katella): Erbst led the county in rebounding with a 13.0 average. He scored 593 points, which ranks him fourth on the school's single-season scoring list behind former stars Rick Aberegg (687), Jeff Welshans (653) and Bob Sherwin (635). Erbst's 368 rebounds this season also rank him fourth at the school behind Welshans (420), Jim Laube (407) and Jeff Hutton (406).
"Bob will go down as one of the top players that has played here in the past 20 years," said Tom Danley, Katella coach. "His greatest strength was his versatility. He could board, score inside or outside, run the fast break and block shots. He was a complete player."
Jeff Fryer (Corona del Mar): The county's leading scorer averaged 27.8 points to lead the Sea Kings to the Sea View League championship. He saw a variety of defenses designed to contain him, but was rarely held below 25 points. Fryer shared player of the year honors with Walton in the Sea View League.
"Jeff was the big reason for our success," said Jack Errion, retired Corona del Mar coach. "He has the best range of any player I have ever coached. But he wasn't just a scorer. He became a good rebounder and defender. His defense and jumping ability really improved to help him become an all-around player."
Jim Sammon (El Dorado): Sammon finished second to Fryer in the county scoring race, averaging 26.9 points. He broke former Golden Hawk star Kevin Heenan's school single-season scoring record, and then Heenan's career mark by 300 points. He scored 30 or more points 10 times.
"Jim was a scorer deluxe for us this year," said Terry Conley, El Dorado coach. "He improved drastically from his junior to senior year. He added so much more to his game this year, and his hard work paid off with success."
J.T. Snow (Los Alamitos): Snow was successful in basketball and football. As quarterback, he led the Griffins to an Empire League title last fall and then led Los Alamitos to its second basketball playoff berth in three years. Snow, a three-year starter, averaged 18.6 points, 6 rebounds, 5.8 assists and shot 50% from the field this season.
"J.T. never missed a game or a practice in three years," said Steve Brooks, Los Alamitos coach. "He was extremely consistent and never seemed to have an off-night. He holds seven school records, scored 20 or more points 14 times this season and always guarded our opponent's best player."
Stuart Thomas (Mater Dei): Known as a big-game player, Thomas was at his best in championship games. He scored 30 points in the Monarchs' 86-59 win over Serra for the 5-A championship. He was named the most valuable player at last December's Tournament of Champions after scoring 28 points in a 53-52 win over Santa Monica.
"Stu was very consistent all year," McKnight said. "He went from a role player to our top player and handled it well. I think he did as much as he possibly could and reached his potential."
Kevin Walker (Brea-Olinda): Walker finished with 1,740 points in his three-year career, surpassing Paul Thomas (1,496) as the Wildcats' record holder. He also totaled 791 points this season to break Roger Anderson's school mark of 661 points. Walker shot 51% from the floor and 84% from the free-throw line.
"Kevin had the green light to shoot the minute he walked up the ramp from our locker room," said Gene Lloyd, retired Brea-Olinda coach. "He ranks among the top players who have ever played the game in Orange County."
Bryant Walton (Saddleback): Who's the best player in the county? Anyone who saw Walton almost single-handedly beat Mater Dei in the Orange Tournament with a 31-point effort in an overtime loss may have the answer. Walton also had a memorable game against Woodbridge in the Sea View League playoffs, scoring 38 points against the Warriors.
"There isn't anything that Bryant doesn't do exceptionally well," said Pat Quinn, Saddleback coach. "His strength is in every phase of the game. He can control a game. I think he could score one on five 60% of the time. He was a once-in-a-lifetime player for me."
Pos. Name School Ht. Class Avg. C Ricky Butler Ocean View 6-6 Jr. 16.2 G Nathan Call Capo Valley 6-0 Sr. 13.0 C LeRon Ellis Mater Dei 6-10 Jr. 14.8 F Bob Erbst Katella 6-9 Sr. 21.5 F Jeff Fryer CdM 6-2 Sr. 27.8 F Jim Sammon El Dorado 6-3 Sr. 26.9 F J.T. Snow Los Alamitos 6-2 Sr. 18.6 F Stuart Thomas Mater Dei 6-9 Sr. 19.8 C Kevin Walker Brea-Olinda 6-10 Sr. 26.7 G Bryant Walton Saddleback 6-4 Sr. 24.3