Column: Westlake standout Kyle MacLean following in his father’s footsteps

Former Simi Valley, UCLA and NBA standout Don MacLean with son, Kyle, a senior at Westlake, during senior night.
Former Simi Valley, UCLA and NBA standout Don MacLean with son, Kyle, a senior at Westlake, during senior night. Kyle set a school record for threes in a season and is part of a strong trio of three-point shooters in Ventura County.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Kyle MacLean took two dribbles, moved momentarily past the three-point line, pivoted backward and let the basketball fly. It was high and arching before falling perfectly through the net. His father, Don, sitting way up in the Westlake High bleachers, stayed quiet and motionless even though the shot had to invoke exciting memories of the past.

It was 32 years ago, in 1988, when the 6-foot-10 MacLean was an All-American at Simi Valley High. He’d go on to be the Pac-12’s all-time leading scorer at UCLA, a first-round NBA draft pick in 1992 and play until 2001. Now he’s the proud, loving father of three basketball-playing boys. Kyle, 6 feet 2, is the oldest.

It was senior night on Friday. MacLean and his wife, Brooke, escorted Kyle on the court, along with brothers Blake, a sophomore, and Trent, a seventh-grader.

“It’s nice to have someone who’s played basketball their whole life, and he’s given me advice and criticism, and it’s a nice privilege,” Kyle said. “He just enjoys watching and saves what he has to say when I get home.”

With a 4.45 grade-point average, Kyle is more than a basketball player. Like his father, his work ethic is unyielding.

“He is an old-school guy,” coach Kyle Kegley said. “What does that mean? It means he’s a gym rat, first guy in, last to leave. He’s always getting in an extra shot. Last year, I’ll never forget. He’s in a cast after breaking his wrist. He was the first one shooting one-handed shots with a cast.”

MacLean scored 16 points in the first quarter of his first game last season, then broke his wrist, sending him to the sideline for most of his junior season. He has returned with a vengeance, averaging 22.8 points for the 22-4 Warriors. He set a school record this season with 98 threes. On Tuesday against Calabasas, he scored 32 points to help Westlake clinch at least a share of the Marmonte League title. It shows practice makes perfect.


“It’s definitely an everyday thing,” MacLean said of shooting. “It starts with the mechanics.”

Threes are falling frequently in Ventura County this season because of the presence of MacLean, Clark Slajchert of Oak Park and Andrew Ramirez of Oxnard.

Slajchert, headed to Pennsylvania, set a Ventura County career record for threes last week. He has surpassed 272 in his career and is averaging 30.3 points for the 22-2 Eagles.

Ramirez has made 100 threes for 24-1 Oxnard and ranks second behind Slajchert with 268 career threes. Coach Jeff Staniland called Ramirez the best shooter he has coached.

Like MacLean, Slajchert and Ramirez come from basketball families. Slajchert’s father, Davis, played for Yale and his older brother, Wes, plays for Dartmouth. Ramirez’s father, Joey, is the basketball coach at Ventura College.

Oxnard's Andrew Ramirez takes a shot during a game against Servite in the 2019-20 season.
Oxnard’s Andrew Ramirez takes a shot during a game against Servite in the 2019-20 season.
(Courtesy of Felix Cortez)

“Clark is a great shooter,” MacLean said. “Same as Andrew. I’ve grown up playing with them. I think they’re great players, and it’s fun to compete with them.”

Don MacLean stays low-key during gamess. You’d never know he’s a TV commentator for the Clippers, trains NBA players and is quick to offer honest opinions when asked. He said he’s pleased his son has successfully come back from injuries to his foot and wrist, showing his potential.

Kyle isn’t likely to equal his father’s 31.5 scoring average his senior year at Simi Valley, but his three-point shooting has been pretty impressive and dad can’t challenge his son’s straight A’s, which is the proudest accomplishment for any parent.