Westlake High basketball Coach Gary Grayson no longer winces when his junior point guard, Steve Aylsworth, shoots from the hip.
Or from the seat of his shorts.
After two years, Grayson is used to it.
"I've become immune to that sort of thing," he said.
Grayson can watch Aylsworth shoot from positions you wouldn't normally see outside a game of Twister because, as the coach now knows, those shots usually go in.
"Sometimes Steve would drive and put up a shot and people would say, 'He's out of control. Why do you let him do that?' " Grayson said. "But Steve is Steve and he usually makes those shots.
"Sometimes he drives and falls and hits the floor and the ball goes in the basket."
Aylsworth, a two-year starter at Westlake, made enough of those circus shots--and plenty of the more conventional kind--to give him a team-leading 17.1 points per game this season. He also dished out 4.4 assists per game, leading the Warriors (19-5) to a share of the Marmonte League title and earning the nod as The Times Ventura County Player of the Year.
Royal Coach Larry Wiksell, who watched Aylsworth almost single-handedly beat the Highlanders in an early season game, said the worst part of coaching against Aylsworth is the thought that he's got to do it for another year.
"I can't wait," Wiksell said sarcastically. "He was tough as a sophomore and you sit back and say, 'Oh my gosh, two more years.' You don't mind a senior burning you because you don't have to see him again."
And Aylsworth, the Marmonte League co-most valuable player, will spend his senior year--and perhaps his college years--giving headaches to football coaches, too.
Aylsworth is in line to be the Warriors' starting quarterback next fall, and Westlake football Coach Jim Benkert said college football coaches have been asking for film on Aylsworth lately.
"I've always played both sports and been interested in both," Aylsworth said. "Before football season, people just labeled me as a basketball player, but during football I got to play with a lot of great football players."
Three members of the Westlake football team signed to play Division I college football last month. While watching them in the fall, college coaches had the chance to see Aylsworth, who led the league with nine interceptions.
Aylsworth, who is barely 6 feet tall, said he will have a better idea this summer--after a series of basketball all-star tournaments--of the sport in which his future lies.
At least one man has a sport of preference for Aylsworth, though.
Grayson knows who makes his basketball team go, and he hates to see him under a 220-pound linebacker.
"He will be going back to pass, scrambling around," Grayson said, "and Coach Grayson will be grimacing in the stands as usual."