Jeremiah Turner, T.K. Reed and George Wrighster of Sylmar High have spent the off-season helping the City Section 3-A Division boys' basketball champions make the jump to the more competitive 4-A Division.
Yet all three acknowledge working on their individual games by playing each other one-on-one, because there are serious bragging rights on the line this weekend.
The War on the Floor summer tournament kicks off today with a one-on-one tournament expected to feature some of the top players from the region.
Top-seeded Gilbert Arenas of Grant, second-seeded Ruben Douglas of Bell-Jeff, third-seeded Devin Montgomery--who played at San Fernando last season before transferring to Alemany--and fourth-seeded Kent Dennis of Cleveland top a 32-player field that begins play at 9 a.m at Chatsworth High. The final is Sunday night.
Games in the first two rounds of the single-elimination tournament will be played to seven baskets with a 15-minute limit and 20-second shot clock. A three-point basket will count the same as any other--one point.
Quarterfinal games will be played to nine points with a 15-minute limit. The semifinals and final will be played to 11 points with a 20-minute limit.
Tall guards such as Arenas and Douglas figure to have an advantage because they can shoot from outside and are tall enough to battle inside.
"I think those big guys, like Gilbert and Ruben, are going to be there at the end," Sylmar guard T.K. Reed said. "But Emmanuel Evans should do well too, because he's so big."
Evans, a recent Birmingham graduate who is seeded 16th, probably would fare better if he wasn't concentrating on football.
Evans, 6 feet 3 and 236 pounds, was an All-City running back before averaging 19.5 points for the Braves' basketball team, which advanced to the 3-A title game.
One of the most intriguing first-round match-ups will pit the 6-4, 225-pound Wrighster against 6-2, 215-pound Kevin Bentley of Montclair Prep. Both are football and basketball standouts.
Other activities today include a three-point shooting contest, a dunk contest and a pairs shooting competition similar to the 2ball format used by the NBA during all-star weekend.
In addition, there will be a one-on-one competition and three-point shootout for girls' standouts.
A girls' all-star game will be played at 5 p.m. Sunday, followed by a boys' all-star game and contest finals. The 20-team War of the Floor tournament begins Monday.