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High School Sports

Basketball talent at Southland high schools reaches unprecedented level

Rancho Christian’s Evan Mobley (4) is seen with his brother Isaiah (3) during a game at the Hoophall Classic.
Rancho Christian’s Evan Mobley (4) is seen with his brother Isaiah during a game at the Hoophall Classic in January.
(Gregory Payan / Associated Press)

Brooklyn Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who played at Woodland Hills Taft High, recently was asked his opinion on which state creates the best basketball professionals. Dinwiddie narrowed it down further, saying Southern California is the basketball hotbed.

“We put more people on All-NBA teams than some states have in the league. Period. It’s not even close,” Dinwiddie told the Athletic’s Travonne Edwards.

He’s not wrong.

Palmdale Knight High graduate Paul George and James Harden of Artesia High were selected to the All-NBA first team last season. Kawhi Leonard (Riverside King) and Russell Westbrook (Lawndale Leuzinger) were on the second and third teams, respectively. Compton High’s DeMar DeRozan and Klay Thompson from Santa Margarita High also have been on All-NBA teams in recent years.

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The success of California players doesn’t appear to be waning either. There are nearly 80 active players from the state in the NBA, per basketball-reference.com.

And there’s more talent potentially heading to the NBA. California high schools have produced double-digit top -150 prospects in the 247Sports Composite rankings every year since 2013. Some of those top prospects, such as Marvin Bagley and Lonzo Ball, are making big contributions in the professional ranks. This season, there are 16 top-150 prospects in the state, 12 from Southern California, but catch them in action while you can because the local talent will be dispersed around the country next season.

College recruiters from all over the nation visit because there never has been a recruiting class with as much high-end California talent. Six of the top 13 players in the 2020 recruiting class prep in the Golden State. Five of those are set to play their final high school seasonin the Southland.

That group is headlined by Temecula Rancho Christian center Evan Mobley, the nation’s No. 1 prospect, who is trying to join Bagley as the second California player in the last four years to finish as the top player in the recruiting class. He is committed to USC. where his brother, five-star forward Isaiah Mobley, is a freshman and his father, Eric, is an assistant coach. Evan will have an interesting challenge this season, playing without Isaiah for the first time in high school, but the 6-foot-11 five-star prospect will have four-star guard Dominick Harris, a Gonzaga commit, to help take pressure off of him.

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Mobley and Harris won’t be the only dynamic teammates hitting the court together when the season opens Wednesday. Chatsworth Sierra Canyon has the No. 5 and the No. 13 overall prospects in the 2020 class in transfers Ziaire Williams and BJ Boston. Boston is committed to Kentucky and Williams is considering North Carolina, USC, Stanford, Oregon and Arizona. The Trailblazers also have Texas Christian forward commit Terren Frank and Zaire Wade, who holds a handful of offers. Both seniors are in the top 200. Underclassmen Harold Yu, Amari Bailey, Shy Odom and Bronny James also have earned scholarship offers.

No. 7 overall prospect Makur Maker of Irvine Pacific Academy and Lakewood Mayfair’s Joshua Christopher, the No. 11 recruit, took official visits to Howard University last month. But Christopher is considered by many to be a UCLA lean and Maker is unlikely to play in college, having already petitioned the NBA to be eligible for the 2020 draft.

El Camino Real cross-country and track coach Jun Reichl returns to college to pursue a PhD in neuroscience.

Outside the top 15, some of the top uncommitted Southland players include Rancho Cucamonga Etiwanda shooting guard Jaylen Clark, Garden Grove Veritas Prep’s Carlos Rosario and 6-6 shooting guard Tibet Gorener of Orange Lutheran.

San Juan Capistrano JSerra four-star shooting guard Ian Martinez (Utah), three-star forward Isaiah Johnson of Torrance Bishop Montgomery (Oregon State) and Santa Ana Mater Dei junior Harrison Hornery (USC) have committed to Pac-12 Conference schools. Hornery’s teammate Devin Askew, the No. 2 combo guard in the junior class, has verbally pledged to attend Kentucky.

Keith Dinwiddie (no relation) will try to progress from a prospect outside the top 100 to an NBA player. The Los Angeles Fairfax guard and Riverside Poly guard Lamont Butler Jr. will try to follow Leonard’s path through San Diego State, where they are committed.


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