Two South Bay prep basketball standouts carried on school traditions when they signed letters of intent with out-of-state colleges Wednesday.
Tyrone Paul of Morningside High School followed in the footsteps of former Monarch center Elden Campbell by signing with Clemson, while guard Kenny Davis became the third Serra High player in the last decade to commit to Gonzaga.
Wednesday was the first day of the national signing period for high school seniors. It lasts until May 15.
Paul, The Times South Bay Player of the Year, visited Clemson last weekend and came away impressed with the South Carolina school. It didn't hurt that the 6-foot-11 Campbell, a senior who became Clemson's all-time leading scorer this year, showed him around campus.
As a junior in high school, Campbell led Morningside to the 1985 Southern Section 3-A championship.
"I liked the atmosphere, the team and the coaching staff," Paul said. "Elden helped me a lot. He told me if I couldn't adapt from city life to quiet life, it might be hard to go there.
"But I was looking for a change in environment. I think it will probably be best for me to leave the area."
The 6-6 Paul is projected to play the No. 2 guard position in college. He also visited Lamar University in Texas and had received inquiries from Loyola Marymount, Long Beach State and Georgetown, he said.
The athletic Paul, who possesses a 46-inch vertical leap, averaged 20.5 points a game this season, leading Morningside to the Ocean League title and quarterfinals of the 3-AA playoffs. He was named the Southern Section Division III Co-Player of the Year.
With Clemson losing four starters, Paul likes his chances of playing right away for the Tigers, regular-season Atlantic Coast Conference champions.
Paul has yet to score 700 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test, needed to be eligible as a freshman. He took the SAT for the second time last week.
"I'll be eligible next year," he said, confidently.
Gonzaga plays in the West Coast Conference, which inclues Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine.
The 6-foot Davis will be the third Serra guard to play for the Bulldogs. Serra Coach Dwan Hurt, a former Cavalier standout, graduated from Gonzaga in 1986 after starting on the basketball team for two years. Serra grad Darryl May was a senior reserve guard for the Bulldogs this season.
"Gonzaga is really ecstatic," Hurt said. "They feel Kenny is one of the best recruits that they have gotten in a long time."
Despite his ties to the school, Hurt said he had little to do with Davis' decision.
"Cal State Fullerton and Montana were kind of mad at me because they thought I had a big influence in Kenny picking Gonzaga," Hurt said. "But he visited there three weeks ago and loved the place. He verbally committed to them then."
Hurt said Davis was attracted to Gonzaga because of the school's excellent academics. Davis, Serra's student body president, carries a 3.2 grade-point average and has a 720 score on the SAT.
"Kenny feels this is a golden opportunity for him to excel academically, as well as athletically," Hurt said.
Morningside center Lisa Leslie, perhaps the nation's most sought-after girls basketball player, says she's in no hurry to sign a letter of intent.
The 6-5 senior has narrowed her choices to USC, Notre Dame and Long Beach State.
"The signing date is not a big deal to me," she said. "It's just another day. I think I'll take a while before the (signing) period is over."
Leslie, who has visited USC and Notre Dame, will take a recruiting trip to Long Beach State later this month.
"I've been sick, so I really haven't had time to think about college," she said. "I have a while (before the May 15 deadline). I think I'll use it to my advantage."
Leslie has spent most of her time in the last few weeks accepting honors. She has won five national Player of the Year awards.
Leslie is one of four South Bay girls who are expected to play Friday in the sixth annual Southern California All-Star High School Basketball Classic at the Forum.
The girls game starts at noon, followed by the boys game at 2 p.m. Both contests will match seniors from Southern Section schools against those from L.A. City Section schools.
Joining Leslie on the Southern Section girls team, guided by Morningside Coach Frank Scott, will be West Torrance guard Rosa Olloque and North Torrance center Laura Collins. Narbonne forward Shasta Paris will play on the L.A. City team, coached by Phil Chase of Washington.
The boys game will feature three area players. Morningside's Paul will play for the Southern Section team, coached by Gary McKnight of Mater Dei. The City team, coached by Randolph Simpson of Manual Arts, includes guards Bobby Kelly of Carson and Damian Wilson of Westchester.
Tickets are available at the Forum and are $7 for adults, $4 for students with ID and $2 for children under 12.
Poor defense and pitching have contributed to Hawthorne's disappointing 0-6 start in the Bay League baseball race. But judging by the Cougars' performance in the Pomona Elks Tournament this week, things are looking up.
Four Hawthorne pitchers combined to throw 21 straight scoreless innings in a four-game period, helping the Cougars reach the consolation finals.
Junior Daniel Jess, brought up from the junior varsity team, pitched four innings of scoreless relief Monday in a 7-4 loss to Alta Loma. Junior Kevin Hand followed it the same day with a one-hitter in a 8-0 shutout over Bonita.
Tuesday, senior Ted Golden kept the streak alive by hurling a five-hitter in a 5-0 victory over Walnut. Senior Angel Fierro then pitched four shutout innings before the scoreless string ended in an 11-3 win over Los Altos.
PREP NOTES--The Southwest Shriners will stage the first All-Comers Scholarship Relays, featuring high school track athletes, at 9 a.m. Saturday at L.A. Southest College. Seniors who participate in the meet are eligible for a scholarship that will be awarded to one graduating boy and one graduating girl to the college of their choice. Tickets are $2 for adults, or $1.50 with two canned goods, and 50 cents for children. For more information, call Wayne Swindell at 327-2917. . . . Jim Nielsen has resigned as North Torrance High's basketball coach. No successor has been named. . . . Miraleste's baseball team continued to beat up on Santa Fe League competition Tuesday, handing Cantwell a 14-3 defeat to improve to 12-3 overall and 6-0 in league play. Paul Lemire, Mike Ryan and Jason Mavar each homered for the Marauders, who have outscored league opponents, 96-13.
South Bay's Baseball Top 10 Selected by Times Sportswriters Through Tuesday's Games
Rank School League Record 1 El Segundo (Camino Real) 14-2 2 St. Bernard (Camino Real) 10-2 3 Torrance (Bay) 13-4 4 Miraleste (Santa Fe) 12-3 5 Palos Verdes (Bay) 9-6 6 Carson (Pacific) 8-3-2 7 Banning (Pacific) 10-6 8 Redondo (Ocean) 9-7 9 San Pedro (Pacific) 9-6-1 10 Mary Star (Santa Fe) 9-4-1