Column: La Mirada High’s Julien Gomez among emerging Southland basketball stars
That’s the word used to describe 6-foot-3 sophomore Julien Gomez of La Mirada, one of the top high school basketball scorers in Southern California with a 26.6 scoring average.
He takes it as a compliment because it means all the ways he has explored to make baskets is paying off.
“I’m happy people call me crafty because me and my coach having been working on all my craftiness, working on my handle, working on my shot,” he said. “It just feels nice people are finally seeing the work I put in.”
Leave him open for a three-point attempt and it’s swish time. Guard him closely and he knows how to drive and use either hand to score. Send him to the free-throw line and it’s swish time again.
His recent games include 29 points against Downey and 26 points against Paramount. He had 30 points in an upset of Santa Ana Foothill.
Off the court, he wears glasses and looks like Clark Kent. On the court, wearing no glasses, he uses his basketball superpowers to create havoc and defensive problems for opponents.
“I think the three ball opens up my driving lane,” he said. “It’s easier to blow by people.”
His instincts, work ethic and versatility make him an exciting player to follow as he continues to develop.
“I need to keep working on my athleticism, get my body ready for the next level,” he said. “I can be a better point guard in my vision and my handle.”
He knows how to execute a windmill dunk, so be careful about underestimating his athleticism.
There are others this season who have stepped forward and thrust themselves into the spotlight after being somewhat anonymous.
- Darnez Slater, Eastvale Roosevelt: The 6-3 junior came through with a 52-point performance Thursday night against Corona Santiago and has been one of the best players in the Big VIII League, which has been dominated by two-time defending Open Division champion Corona Centennial. He’s averaging 20.4 points.
- AJ Robinson, Crenshaw: One of the best players in the City Section, Robinson has led the Cougars to a 22-2 record. He had 37 points against Washington Prep. He’s a terrific senior point guard and leader.
- Dylan Black, Manhattan Beach Mira Costa: Leave him open at your own peril for a three-point attempt. Mira Costa is 24-1 and Black’s consistent shooting is a big reason. He’s headed to Carnegie Mellon.
- Tim Anderson, Pasadena Blair: The 5-11 freshman is averaging 23.6 points and has lifted his team to second place in the Rio Hondo League.
- Will Smith, Torrance Bishop Montgomery: On a team with balanced scoring, Smith always delivers in big games for 24-1 Bishop Montgomery. Unselfish and versatile, the 6-3 senior is quietly plotting to make an impact in the playoffs.
- Tyrone Riley, Downey St. Pius X-St. Matthias: At 6-6, Riley has been a consistent offensive contributor for the 22-4 Warriors. The junior is averaging 24.5 points, 10 rebounds and 4.2 assists.
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