For much of the 1988-89 basketball season, many members of the Times All-Glendale boys’ basketball team were on the outside looking in.
But the outside wasn’t such a bad place for most of these sharpshooters. In fact, quite a few area coaches delighted in watching players such as John Hillman, Allen Freemon, Raffie Eskandarian and Michael Epps gun from the perimeter.
Cotton nets snapped all around the area . . . as did records.
A look at the players:
John Hillman: Though his team finished 7-16, Hillman proved to be an offensive force. Hillman moved into second place on Hoover’s all-time single-season scoring list. The top spot (1,074 points) belongs to his brother, Joe, who now plays for Indiana. In December, John scored 43 points against St. Francis, and in the Estancia tournament, he scored a tournament-record 40 against Sonora.
Chad Givens: He spends his free time practicing the cello, but Givens’ most harmonious performances take place in high-tops. Givens, an All-Southern Section selection last season, shared most valuable player honors in the Rio Hondo League and was named MVP of the Chino tournament. He averaged 9.2 rebounds a game and maintains a 3.6 grade-point average.
Allen Freemon: St. Francis Coach John Jordan gave Freemon, the team’s MVP, free rein to shower his long-distance shots as he saw fit. Freemon, a unanimous Del Rey League selection, finished fifth in the Southern Section in three-point baskets (83 of 211). “There’s a certain chemistry when your leading scorer also worked the hardest game in and game out,” Jordan said. “He was our leader by example.”
Chris Jones: Jones, the Rio Hondo League co-MVP, made his most profound impact in the Spartans’ three playoff games when he scored 27, 30 and 27 points. In the first-round game, Jones made two free throws with 16 seconds to play to defeat St. Francis. In La Canada’s loss to San Luis Obispo, Jones nailed a three-point shot in the waning seconds to force an overtime period.
Raffie Eskandarian: The Falcons’ leader in points, assists and steals, Eskandarian led his team to a 16-9 record. According to Coach John Goffredo, Eskandarian was “an excellent floor leader and long-range shooter.” Other coaches noticed. Eskandarian was an All-Pacific League selection and was named MVP of the El Segundo tournament, in which he scored a career-high 32 points against Leuzinger. Eskandarian also had an 11-assist game this season.
Kent Purser: Verdugo Hills Coach Hector Ornelas says it didn’t take phenomenal coaching to shut down the Dons--just stopping Purser was usually enough. But that was no simple task. Despite being double- and triple-teamed, Purser led the team in scoring and rebounding. He scored 26 points against Eagle Rock and 24 against Belmont. “He was the best athlete on the team,” Ornelas said. “One game he did not play because he injured his ankle. It was a long day for us.
Hank Hou: The Barristers’ offensive scheme allowed Hou to bring the ball upcourt in the transition game, then post up with his back to the basket in the four-corner set offense. Though Hou could have scored more, he relished his assists. “I have to beg him to shoot sometimes,” Coach Henfred Brard said in February. “He wants to dish off so badly that he’ll pass off an easy jump shot trying to get the ball to a teammate.”
Michael Epps: An All-City Section forward, Epps made a habit of dismantling defenses with his outside shooting. Epps dedicated this season to his father, John Epps Sr., who died in December. He broke the all-time Eagle Rock scoring mark, finishing with a two-year total of 1,111 points and a 23.6 career average. He scored 50 points, including eight three-pointers, against Sherman Oaks CES. Coach Bill Whiting says Epps is more of a team player this season. “Last year he was very one-dimensional,” Whiting said in February. “This year, he has worked hard on his defense and rebounding.” No doubt Wilson Coach Mario Cantu echoed the sentiments of many area coaches: “I’ve seen enough of Michael Epps to last a lifetime.”
Juwan Smith: Franklin Coach Robin Cardona had never seen a Panther player slam dunk in a game . . . until Smith came along. By Cardona’s recollection, Smith, a Northeast League first-team selection, had “six or seven dunks in games.” Smith led the team in scoring and had 25 points and 20 rebounds against Business Magnate. Cardona estimates that if Smith improves at the pace he did this season, he should be a Division I prospect next season.
Allen Faalnik: As a youngster, Faalnik was bigger than many of his peers. Subsequently he often practiced playing low post. When Faalnik’s growth began to taper and friends began to pass him up, he had to shift to the perimeter game. The transition was smooth and Faalnik was able to retain much of his prowess in the paint. “He could go out and hit the three-pointers but yet he was really strong and physical inside,” Glendale Coach Bob Cooper said. Faalnik was named to the Glendale and El Segundo all-tournament teams.
The all-star boys and girls teams, each consisting of 10 members, their coaches and parents will be guests of The Times at 9 a.m. Sunday, April 2, at the annual Times High School Basketball Awards Brunch where all-stars teams from 12 circulation areas will be honored at the Anaheim Hilton. The featured speaker will be George Yardley, a former All-American at Stanford University, who went on to become the first player ever to score more than 2,000 points in an NBA season. The players and the coaches of the year from each area will be announced.
The teams were chosen on the basis of a poll of area coaches, who are asked to fill out ballots nominating their own players and opponents, plus the observations of college scouts and sportswriters. Each player will recieve the traditional Times golden basketball plaque and award certificate. BOYS TEAM Name: John Hillman School: Hoover Year: Junior Height: 6-3 Average: 27.2 Name: Chad Givens School: La Canada Year: Senior Height: 6-7 Average: 17.2 Name: Allen Freemon School: St. Francis Year: Senior Height: 6-3 Average: 20.3 Name: Chris Jones School: La Canada Year: Senior Height: 6-5 Average: 18.0 Name: Raffie Eskandarian School: Crescenta Valley Year: Senior Height: 5-9 Average: 18.0 Name: Kent Purser School: Verdugo Hills Year: Junior Height: 5-10 Average: 19.0 Name: Hank Hou School: Marshall Year: Junior Height: 5-10 Average: 16.5 Name: Michael Epps School: Eagle Rock Year: Senior Height: 6-3 Average: 25.9 Name: Juwan Smith School: Franklin Year: Junior Height: 6-5 Average: 20.2 Name: Allen Faalnik School: Glendale Year: Senior Height: 5-10 Average: 16.2 ALL-GLENDALE BOYS’ SECOND TEAM
Pos. Name School Ht. Yr. Avg. F John Gilmore Crescenta Valley 6-6 Sr. 10.6 C Paul Matijasevic Crescenta Valley 6-7 Jr. 10.6 F Chad Blatchley Glendale 6-3 Sr. 14.8 F Alfonso Pule Franklin 6-2 Jr. 20.2 F Aaron Shaw Marshall 6-3 Sr. 16.1 G David Swayne Flintridge Prep 6-1 Jr. 20.0 G Greg Anglade Pacific Christian 5-7 Sr. 19.5 F Dominic Mumulo St. Francis 6-3 Jr. 14.1 C Jeff Dyrek St. Francis 6-2 Sr. 12.2 G Chris Rowland Marshall 5-11 Sr. 6.7