Ed O’Bannon, the only junior on the boys 1989 Times All-Southeast High School Basketball Team, could have scored 40 or 50 points a game this season but he knew that was not what his Artesia team needed.
“He always played with a team concept,” Artesia Coach Wayne Merino said of the 6-foot-9 O’Bannon, who was selected to Parade magazine’s All-American first team.
O’Bannon, who also made The Times’ all-star team as a sophomore, led the Pioneers into the CIF playoffs with an impressive all-around performance. He averaged 28.9 points, 14.5 rebounds and five blocked shots a game. And he shot 60% from the field.
“His hard work ethics and desire to win make him one of the best players in the country,” Merino said. “He is one of the hardest working kids I have ever been around.”
Merino said that about 150 colleges are recruiting O’Bannon and that “right now he is wide open to any college.”
The nine other players on the All-Southeast team are seniors.
Southern Section 2-AA champion Whittier Christian placed two players on the team, as did St. Paul, which had a scorer almost as prolific as O’Bannon in Greg Willig, who averaged 27.3 points a game.
O’Bannon and John Brown of Montebello are the only repeaters on the team.
Here is a look at the rest of the All-Southeast team:
Eddie Martinez, Gahr--He led the Gladiators in scoring with a 16-point average and was also the team’s best defensive player and MVP. Gahr Coach Vern Stewart admired Martinez’s intelligence and work ethic. “I think he can play Division I ball,” Stewart said of the 6-foot guard, who first will play at Cerritos College.
Tony Rodriguez, Warren--Not only did he improve his strength and jumping ability this year, but he developed an outside game to go with his good inside game. “The strongest part of his game is his toughness in taking the ball to the basket,” Warren Coach Jay Young said of the hard working 6-4 senior, who averaged 18.6 points and 15 rebounds a game. He may play at Cerritos College.
Greg Willig, St. Paul--Offensive player of the year in the Angelus League, Willig averaged 27.3 points and 13.2 rebounds. At 6-8, he can dribble, which posed a lot of match-up problems for opponents. “He always plays hard,” St. Paul Coach Mike Dinneen said of the three-year starter. A member of The Times’ All-Southeast football team, Willig has signed to play football at Rice University.
Jason Hart, St. Paul--He was first in the CIF Southern Section in 3-point baskets with 95. Despite being bothered by a groin pull, he averaged 18.6 points a game. “Not too many kids shoot better than Jason does,” Dinneen said. “The other teams keyed on stopping him from the 3-pointers and it opened up the other players to score more. He sacrificed a lot offensively to help the team.”
John Brown, Montebello--Intensity, drive and determination are the attributes of this physical 6-3, 195-pound senior who averaged 20.9 points and 13.4 rebounds a game. A three-year starter, he was co-MVP of the Whitmont League with Edgar Loera of Bell Gardens.
Edgar Loera, Bell Gardens--A point guard who averaged 16 points and eight assists, Loera was the main reason why the Lancers won the Whitmont League. “He inspired the kids on the court,” Coach Charles La Commare said of the transfer from St. John Bosco High. Cal State Bakersfield and Whittier College are interested in Loera.
Cesar Uballe, Bell--For the third straight season, Bell won its league with Uballe at center. “He’s a vicious rebounder and the best-kept secret in L.A.,” said Bell Coach Rodney Tange. Uballe averaged 12 rebounds a game and 16.5 points. He scored 24 points and had 13 rebounds in a 2-point playoff quarterfinal loss to Los Angeles High. He is going to Cal State Dominguez Hills.
Scott Ferguson, Whittier Christian--"On defense, his presence in the paint made the difference,” Whittier Christian Coach Bob Brown said of the 6-7 center, who averaged 14.4 points and 9.2 rebounds to help lead the Heralds to the 2-AA championship. Ferguson had a knack for getting open on post cuts and staying out of foul trouble. “He was involved in thinking and getting ready for games, and that may have rubbed off on the other players,” Brown said.
Paul McKinley, Whittier Christian--The 6-4 McKinley averaged 18 points and five rebounds, and shot 52% from the field. He could explode for points with quick moves to the base line, and also liked to shoot a running one-hander. “Paul is a die-hard basketball person,” Brown said.
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. Name: Ed O’Bannon School: Artesia Year: Junior Height: 6-9 Average: 28.9 Name: Eddie Martinez School: Gahr Year: Senior Height: 6-0 Average: 16.0 Name: Tony Rodriguez School: Warren Year: Senior Height: 6-4 Average: 18.6 Name: Greg Willig School: St. Paul Year: Senior Height: 6-6 Average: 27.3 Name: Jason Hart School: St. Paul Year: Senior Height: 6-2 Average: 18.6 Name: John Brown School: Montebello Year: Senior Height: 6-3 Average: 20.9 Name: Edgar Loera School: Bell Gardens Year: Senior Height: 6-0 Average: 16.0 Name: Cesar Uballe School: Bell Year: Senior Height: 6-7 Average: 16.5 Name: Paul McKinley School: Whittier Christian Year: Senior Height: 6-4 Average: 18.0 Name: Scott Ferguson School: Whittier Christian Year: Senior Height: 6-7 Average: 14.4