There were close to a dozen sons of former NBA players playing high school basketball in Southern California this season, and six will get the chance to play in a real NBA arena this weekend as the state championships are held at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento.
Since the Golden 1 Center is just 2 years old, none of the fathers will be able to offer specific inside knowledge. But their NBA experiences ought to give their sons some ideas about the challenges of shooting in an NBA arena and playing in a state championship game.
Chatsworth Sierra Canyon (26-4) has four NBA sons on its Open Division final team: Scotty Pippen Jr., Duane Washington Jr., Terren Frank and K.J. Martin.
Santa Monica Crossroads (24-9) is in the Division II final on Friday against Alameda and has Shareef O’Neal, son of Shaquille. And Ty Penberthy is playing for Santa Clarita Christian in the Division V final.
“It’s going to be really fun, really exciting and I can’t wait to play for the championship,” said Washington, whose team defeated Etiwanda 58-55 in Saturday’s Southern California Regional final and will play the hometown Sheldon Huskies in Saturday’s 8 p.m. Open Division final. “This is all I’ve wanted to do. We’re at this moment. Now we have to get it done.”
Sierra Canyon Coach Andre Chevalier has successfully blended his group of five newcomers into the best team in Southern California. All have different personalities, but they’ve come together and are performing well under pressure and meeting every challenge.
“Week by week, they’ve been getting better,” Chevalier said.
Sierra Canyon was able to overcome the loss of Cassius Stanley in the second quarter to beat a tough, determined Etiwanda team. Stanley’s availability for Saturday’s final is uncertain. He hit the court hard after making a layup. If he suffered a concussion, he won’t be able to play under concussion protocol rules.
With one game left, the experiences of the fathers should come in handy for their sons.
“They can talk to them about the depth behind the backboard and how to prepare,” Chevalier said. “When the boys are home, it seems the parents are giving them positive feedback and constructive criticism to help them get over the top.”
Sierra Canyon won a Division V championship in 2015, but this is the school’s first appearance in the Open Division final.
Having former NBA fathers Scottie Pippen, Kenyon Martin, Duane Washington Sr., Tellis Frank and possibly Shaquille O’Neal courtside at Golden 1 Center ought to attract some fans.
Southern California teams are coming well armed to take on their Northern California counterparts. Chino Hills, playing in the Division I final on Friday at 8 p.m. against Walnut Creek Las Lomas, has the duo of 6-foot-9 Onyeka Okongwu and Andre Ball, cousin of Lakers guard Lonzo Ball.
Okongwu has thrust himself into the top spot for player of the year status by averaging 28.6 points, 12 rebounds and 3.7 blocks. He’ll be the best center on display for two days in Sacramento and should be ready to deliver his share of dunks.
In the girls’ competition, all eyes will be on Windward junior Charisma Osborne. The No. 1 college prospect in California has been putting on a show during the playoffs. Windward will be facing Los Altos Hills Pinewood in the Open Division final on Saturday at 6 p.m.
Tickets are $16 for adults and $10 for students. Spectrum will broadcast all 12 championship games.