The television cameras were focused on Loara High School’s high-scoring guard, Tes Whitlock, in Tuesday’s opening round of the Irvine World News Tournament, but Edison junior Brandon Jessie stole the show.
Jessie scored 21 points and had 22 rebounds in a little more than three quarters as Edison rolled to an 87-53 victory at Woodbridge High. Jessie made 10 of 20 shots and appeared to get every rebound in sight before retiring with 3:53 remaining.
Edison (5-1) made 13 of 17 field goals in the second quarter, scoring 30 points to take a commanding 42-24 lead at halftime. Loara (2-5) lost its fourth consecutive game as Whitlock struggled to get 25 points.
Afterward, Jessie said playing against Whitlock was enough motivation for a big game.
“He’s a good friend and a great player,” Jessie said. “Any time you play against Tes Whitlock, it’s a challenge to try and stop him. Plus, I wanted to show I can play, too.”
There’s little doubt that Jessie will be the most highly recruited football and basketball player in the county next season. In the meantime, he’s still working on getting his legs into basketball shape.
“He’s a 16-year-old man,” Edison Coach Jon Borchert said. “By mid-January, he’ll have all of his skills back, and when we gets down low, he’s pretty tough. He’s fading away on some of his jump shots, but he’s just going to get better and better.”
Jessie got plenty of help from teammate Todd Smyser, who also had 21 points.