ORANGE COUNTY SPORTS / The Preps : Boys' Player of the Week : Bringing His Talent to Light : Rembert Learned How to Stretch His Basketball Skills

Times Staff Writer

During his first three years at Mater Dei High School, Kevin Rembert played in the shadow of talent.

As a freshman, Rembert was a reserve on a varsity basketball team that included Tom Lewis and Mike Mitchell, both All-Southern Section 5-A players.

The past two seasons, he played with LeRon Ellis, the 5-A player of the year in 1987.

Lewis is now at Pepperdine, Mitchell at Fresno State and Ellis at Kentucky.

Now it's Rembert's turn in the light. Yet, he does his best to play down his role.

"With Lewis, Mitchell and Ellis around, I never really played in the spotlight," Rembert said. "I'm not one to boast and brag about the things I do. I just consider myself one of the guys."

It may be more difficult to convince others, though.

On Wednesday, Rembert, The Times' player of the week, hit a last-second jump shot to beat St. Bernard, 46-44. Two days later, he had 19 points and 15 rebounds as the Monarchs defeated St. Paul, 84-72, to remain undefeated in the Angelus League.

"I like getting the ball with the game on the line," said Rembert, a 6-foot 5-inch forward. "It's fun to take a game-winning shot. It's even more fun to make a game-winning shot."

Mater Dei coaches and fans have been expecting great things from Rembert since he enrolled at Mater Dei.

As a 6-2 freshman with tremendous leaping abilities, Rembert was elevated to the varsity the first day of practice. He did play in one tournament for the freshman team, and in a couple of junior varsity games, but only when it didn't interfere with the varsity's schedule.

"People saw me play in a freshman game, where I had a few dunks, and they started talking about how great I was going to be," Rembert said. "It surprised me. I guess they had never seen a freshman that dunked before."

But, whereas Rembert was considered a future star, his varsity teammates regarded him as nothing more than a freshman.

"Kevin came in a little cocky as a freshman," Mater Dei Coach Gary McKnight said. "I think Mitchell and Lewis decided they were going to beat up Kevin every time he took a shot in practice. He spent a lot of time on the floor that year.

"If I had it all to do over again, I would put Kevin on the junior varsity and let him develop his perimeter play a little more."

Rembert admits that he almost waited too long before working to improve his overall play, as he depended too much on his inside game.

But, at the end of last season he realized that he needed to be more than a one-dimensional player. Rembert worked over the summer to improve his outside shooting and ballhandling skills.

"All my life, I had depended on my post play," he said. "I not only need to be a better perimeter player for college, but for my senior year. I knew I was going to get a lot of attention from other teams."

The same kind of attention that Lewis, Mitchell and Ellis received.

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