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Les Schwab Invitational

December 30, 2002 Columns No Comments

Live from Portland: the 2002 Les Schwab Invitational

by Jed Tai

From December 18-21, Portland served host to the Les Schwab Invitational, a high school tournament featuring the top Oregon basketball programs as well as top teams from all over the United States and even the world. Now in its seventh year, the event has become one of the best holiday tournaments in the nation. This year’s tournament was held on the campus of the University of Portland at the Chiles Center.

Some of the top teams and players in the country have participated in the LSI in years past. Last year’s champion, Oak Hill Academy, finished the season ranked #2 in USA Today’s poll of high school programs and featured one of this year’s top freshmen in college, Carmelo Anthony of Syracuse. Other former tournament stars include the likes of Tyson Chandler (Chicago Bulls), Mike Dunleavy (Duke/Golden State Warriors), Freddie Jones (Oregon/Indiana Pacers), and Aaron Miles (Kansas).

This year’s tournament would be no different in terms of top teams and players. Three teams, Bishop O’Connell (Arlington, VA), Westbury Christian (Houston, TX), and Jefferson (Portland, OR) were ranked in someone’s pre-season Top 25. And as far as players go, there was plenty of future Division I talent that would have college coaches and recruiting evaluators salivating while they were watching.

The games lived up to all the billing as well. Nine games had a final margin of four points or less, including the last game of the tournament. Bishop O’Connell and Westbury Christian faced off in the LSI championship game, the first LSI that didn’t feature at least one Oregon school in the finals. It was a game that eventually went to the wire. It didn’t start out that way however, as Bishop O’Connell ran off to an early 12-1 lead, threatening to blow Westbury Christian out of the building like they had done to everyone else in the tournament. The Knights held a 34-22 lead at the half.

But behind star forward Ndudi Ebi, the Wildcats scratched and clawed their way back into the game. Ebi put the team on his back in the third quarter, and his layup with 3:30 left in the period gave Westbury Christian its first lead of the ballgame, 37-36. The game was a back and forth affair from that point on, and with 1:07 remaining in the game a basket off a goaltending call on Ebi tied the game at 57. After missed opportunities by both teams – including two missed free throws by Westbury Christian with 0:26 left on the clock – Bishop O’Connell had one more chance with 13 second remaining. The final play called for sophomore guard Marcus Ginyard to drive to the basket, but although he missed the layup attempt, Knights forward Dave Neal put in the offensive putback as the clock ran out on the 59-57 Bishop O’Connell victory. A great end to what was a great tournament.

Point guard Erik Smith led the Knights with 18 points, while Neal chipped in with 13 points and nine rebounds. Ebi led the Wildcats with 32 points, 12 rebounds, and six blocks, on his way to earning MVP honors for the tournament.

The Teams

Here’s a recap of how each of the six teams fared in the tournament.

1. Bishop O’Connell Knights (4-0 in the tournament)

– defeated Rex Putnam (OR), 66-48

– defeated Westview (OR), 56-41

– defeated Redmond (OR), 53-35

– defeated Westbury Christian (TX), 59-57

Bishop O’Connell was clearly the most well-coached team in the LSI. What else would you expect from a team coached by Joey Wootten, the son of legendary head coach Morgan Wooten? Led by star juniors Brian Johnson, Erik Smith, and sophomore Marcus Ginyard, the Knights methodically ran their offense, dictated game tempo, and played in-your-face defense on every possession. Whether they faced zone or man defenses, it didn’t matter – the Knights found the open shot and hit it. Also blessed with great size inside, the Knights had a distinct advantage in the paint and on the glass, and they weren’t seriously challenged until the tournament’s final game. In the finals, they had trouble handling Ebi (like everyone else), but held on to capture the championship at week’s end. If there was a slight knock on this team, it was they didn’t have great team speed or athleticism, but that hardly mattered as they ran roughshod over most of the competition and will likely hold on to their national Top Ten ranking. And, with only one senior on the team – who doesn’t even start – the Knights will certainly be a team that will challenge for national championship honors next season, if not this year.

2. Westbury Christian Wildcats (Houston, TX) (3-1)

– defeated Tigard (OR), 44-28

– defeated Bendigo Secondary (AUS), 56-47

– defeated Jefferson (OR), 71-65

– lost to Bishop O’Connell (VA), 59-57

Westbury Christian is a known powerhouse in the Texas Association for Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) but has recently become known on the national scene. Led by consensus top five recruit Ndudi Ebi, the Wildcats were ranked in the national top 20 at the beginning of the season before dropping a game in a recent tournament. And with Ebi, they almost atoned for that loss in the LSI before losing a heartbreaker in the finals to Bishop O’Connell. True, Ebi is the main man for the Wildcats and he was the best player on the floor in every game that he played. But head coach Greg Glenn also got solid performances from his other seniors as well as from some of his younger players, which will bode well for future seasons after Ebi has graduated. Look for the Wildcats to continue to be on the national radar as they will face more nationally ranked competition in games and tournaments to come this season.

3. Redmond Panthers (Redmond, OR) (3-1)

– defeated Sunset (OR), 62-47

– defeated Southern Lab (LA), 59-57

– lost to Bishop O’Connell (VA), 53-35

– defeated Jefferson (OR), 61-57

Out of all the twelve Oregon schools that participated in this year’s LSI, Redmond came out looking the prettiest. In defeating Sunset and Jefferson, the Panthers beat the state’s top two ranked schools, and by week’s end many were proclaiming them the state’s new top team. Redmond did fairly well against out-of-state competition as well, picking up a nice victory over visiting Southern Lab, and even though they were never close to powerhouse Bishop O’Connell, they did as well as just about everyone else in the tournament in that regard. While the tournament was definitely a coming out party for star junior forward Maarty Leunen – who probably would have been the tournament MVP if it weren’t for Ndudi Ebi – the Panthers got solid contributions from several of their other players. Head coach Kelly Bokn’s squad will definitely a team to watch out for in the Oregon state tournament come March.

4. Jefferson Democrats (Portland, OR) (2-2)

– defeated Churchill (OR), 50-43

– defeated Jesuit (OR), 84-81 (OT)

– lost to Westbury Christian (TX), 71-65

– lost to Redmond (OR), 61-57

Jefferson in recent years has been considered Oregon’s top high school program, and thus, the team hometown fans put their hopes on to keep the LSI title in-state. The Demos have come close in recent years, but unfortunately fell short again in this year’s tourney. In fact, it was a rather disappointing tournament for head coach Marshall Haskins and his team, coming out of the LSI with a 2-3 overall record (after a season-opening setback to Springfield (MO) Kickapoo in the KMOX Shootout in St. Louis). However, the Demos were involved in three of the most exciting games in the tournament, which enthralled many fans despite the tough outcomes. While it’s clear that as Thomas Gardner goes the team goes, this year’s edition of the Democrats are very deep as every game Gardner got support from a different person off of the Jefferson bench. Haskins’ roster goes as far as twelve deep, and he felt confident with almost any of them getting significant playing time on the floor, including time in clutch situations. This will certainly help out Jefferson, who traditionally likes to run and full court press, and they now look forwards to play in their rough-and-tumble conference, the Portland Interscholastic League (PIL).

5. Southern Lab Baby Jags (Baton Rouge, LA) (3-1)

– defeated Hillsboro (OR), 82-72

– lost to Redmond (OR), 72-62

– defeated Westview (OR), 88-78

– defeated Jesuit (OR), 60-51

The undersized (no starter taller than 6-4) and understaffed (only nine players) Baby Jags couldn’t handle the size of Redmond in the second round, but otherwise played impressively in the LSI. The Baby Jags were missing two of their top players, which also happened to be their two tallest players, but they were able to do well even without them. Without their inside players, the team counted on their three guards and they were able to deliver in the team’s three wins. While the team could no doubt run with the best of them, they concentrated on slowing the pace down and methodically working their offense for open shots. But they did do plenty of fast breaking when given the opportunity. There’s no question that the Baby Jags head back to Louisiana – where they are nine-time state champions – with a positive feeling from what they learned in Portland.

6. Jesuit Crusaders (Portland, OR) (2-2)

– defeated Lake Oswego (OR), 58-47

– lost to Jefferson (OR), 84-81 (OT)

– defeated Bendigo Secondary (AUS), 48-44

– lost to Southern Lab (LA), 60-51

Not much was expected out of this year’s young Jesuit squad prior to the LSI, but after their performance you can bet that Oregon high schools will need to prepare for this group of Crusaders. Led by the famous Tarver brother trio, the Crusaders showed they could compete with just about anybody in the tournament. They were able to push Jefferson to the limit in an overtime loss (one of the top games of the tourney) and although they finished with a record of 2-2, they can go home feeling good about how they performed. For the most part, Jesuit preferred the up-tempo game and could effectively full-court press when they needed to. Ball-handling, outside shooting, and converting free throws were items which they struggled with at times, but that was to be expected out of a young squad. Expect them to make noise – if not challenge for the top this season in the always-tough Metro League in the Portland area.

The Players

This year’s LSI once again showed off some of the top high school talent in the country. The tournament MVP, Westbury Christian forward Ndudi Ebi, lived up to all of the hype as one of the best players in the country, and Jefferson senior guard Thomas Gardner showed why many consider him one of the elite shooting guards of the senior class. But as talented as seniors such as Ebi and Gardner are, the strength of this year’s LSI was in the number of talented underclassmen that played in the tournament. A good number of them are Division I prospects who will be highly recruited in years to come. Here is a look at all of the top players and how they performed (stats are for tournament games only):

Matthew Barrow, Southern Lab, 6-3, Guard, Junior

Stats: 17.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.3 apg, .393 fg, .250 3pt, .737 ft

One of the top shooters in the tournament, the lanky Barrow not only showed off a soft touch from the perimeter, but also has the ability to put the ball on the floor a little to create his own shot off the dribble. He shot the ball well in three of four games, showing tremendous range that extended well beyond the college three-point line. He preferred to catch and shoot the ball, but did create some space off the dribble at times for pull-up jumpers. However, he rarely drove all the way to attack the rim. A pretty good athlete, he could stand to build more strength in order to help out more on the boards and no defense. He could stand to improve upon on his decision making in passing and shot selection, but his innate shooting skill will be attractive to major Division I schools in the future. Barrow made the LSI’s All-Tournament Team.

Ndudi Ebi, Westbury Christian, 6-10, Forward, Senior

Stats: 26.0 ppg, 12.3 rpg, 5.0 bpg, .488 fg, .250 3pt, .815 ft

Some feel that Ebi could be best college-bound high school prospect in the United States (since LeBron James will be in all likelihood heading to the NBA), but he is universally considered one of the top five high school players in America. Not that there were any doubts of this entering the LSI, but if anyone did, he certainly proved them wrong during the tournament. Long and lean, yet extremely athletic and skilled, Ebi pretty much did whatever he wanted to on the court in the tournament. Ebi was dominant on both sides of the floor. In fact, if he didn’t score a single point in the tournament, he likely would have been an all-tourney pick just based on his defense. Using his long arms, Ebi blocked just about everything taken at him inside, and not only prevented scores but kept the ball in play for his teammates to recover. He also was a threat on D in the open floor, using his remarkable quickness to grab steals in the full court press on his way to easy transition dunks. Offensively, Ebi could not be stopped whether he chose to post up inside, break down an opponent off the dribble, or face up from the perimeter all the way out to three-point range. He couldn’t be kept off either the offensive or defensive glass, and often times if he grabbed the defensive board, he was a threat to take the ball coast-to-coast to the other end for a basket. If you wanted to nitpick his game, you could argue he does a little too much dribbling, tends to settle for the fadeaway instead of taking it strong to the hoop, and loses his temper at times. And he most definitely needs to put on weight and strength on his skinny frame. But his positives stood out way more than the negatives as he was clearly the most talented player in the tournament every time he stepped foot on the court. Look for him in the McDonald’s All-American game later this year and for him to be one of Dick Vitale’s diaper dandies at Arizona in 2003-04.

Thomas Gardner, Jefferson, 6-4, Guard, Senior

Stats: 23.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 4.0 apg, .413 fg, .355 3pt, .682 ft

Gardner might not have the best performance that he’s capable of in the LSI, but he more than showed why many feel he is the top player in all of Oregon. An unstoppable offensive machine, especially when he’s on, Gardner not only lit it up from three-point range, but also took the ball to the hole strong to finish plays amongst the trees. His reputation is first and foremost as a shooter, and there was no doubt he could do that in the tournament. With deep range and a lightning-quick release, Gardner more than hit his share of threes during the week. But it’s his ability to put the ball on the floor and create off the dribble that makes him a force. Using a power dribble, Gardner can drive to his right or his left and perform jump-stop or spin moves to free himself for a layup or soft floater in the lane. The fact he’s a fantastic leaper and has a mature body certainly adds to his ability to finish at the cup. But with all his scoring ability, Gardner did not play selfishly, as he often found teammates open underneath off of drives, even in situations late in the ballgame when the team put the ball in his hands, counting on him to lead them to victory. He did show a propensity to take some bad shots at times and while he certainly is an emotional player, his outbursts and bravado at times got him into trouble. But there’s no questioning his ability to score and Missouri certainly thinks he can contribute, as they have signed him to play in Columbia next season. He could be a sleeper pick for the McDonald’s All-American game in the spring.

Marcus Ginyard, Bishop O’Connell, 6-5, Guard, Sophomore

Stats: 11.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.3 apg, .654 fg, .650 ft

While the slight knock on O’Connell might have been their relative lack of team speed and athleticism, you wouldn’t have been able apply that to Marcus Ginyard. A young greyhound with jaw-dropping athletic ability, Ginyard wowed the LSI crowd with his ability to harass on defense, play above the rim, and throw down rim-rattling dunks. He has an ultra-quick first step that allows him to get to the hole in a hurry, and with his awesome vertical leap, can finish plays at the rim over multiple defenders. One dunk over two players in the opening game against Tigard left the crowd in awe of his talents. His leaping ability also allows him to sneak inside and crash the offensive boards, which led to many easy baskets. Obviously, he is a fantastic finisher on the break, and he is often one of the first players down court after a steal or defensive rebound. Ginyard is also a good ballhandler, and can swing over to the point on occasion. But what makes Ginyard special is the work he does on defense. He simply got up in the grill of his assignments, creating havoc with his quickness and long arms. But Ginyard still has things to work on as he showed a very shaky outside shot and he probably gambled too much on defense in trying to steal the ball. But it’s very apparent that the ability and willingness to work is there and since he’s only a sophomore, there’s plenty of time. There’s no doubt that Ginyard is one of the top players in the Class of 2005 and will be recruited by all of the top programs, as he’s not only a great hoopster, he’s also a terrific student. Ginyard earned the tournament’s Hustle Award.

Steven Harrell, Southern Lab, 6-1, Guard, Senior

Stats: 8.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 6.5 apg, .565 fg, .889 ft

The leader of the Baby Jags, Harrell had a solid run through the tournament. He’s a steady point guard who knew when to force the tempo and when to pull it back and run the offense. Whether it was against the zone or man defenses, he was just as effective in penetrating the lane and scoring off athletic drives or dishing off to open teammates. While he’s not overly quick and operates almost exclusively to his right, Harrell showed good strength and athleticism in finishing plays either right at the glass or on floaters in the lane. He didn’t show any semblance of an outside shot during the tournament, but was smart enough to know that was not a strength and didn’t take any. Defensively, Harrell was in opponents’ faces with stick ’em D and played the passing lanes well for steals. He has apparently decided to stay at home and attend Southern University, and the SWAC will be a good place for him to test his skills at the next level.

Ugo Ihekweazu, Westbury Christian, 6-5, Forward, Senior

Stats: 5.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.5 apg, .450 fg, .500 ft

Ebi’s partner inside was Ihekweazu, who didn’t put up big numbers during the tournament, but did show why he’s considered a Division I prospect. Clearly his best asset is his body. Built like a tank, Ihekweazu has an NBA-ready frame with tremendous upper body strength and he uses that to his advantage when finishing plays inside, as his power allows him to overpower taller players with less mature bodies in the paint. Since the team doesn’t seem to run many plays for him, Ihekweazu didn’t get many touches on offense, but when he got the ball in position inside, he was able to convert. Unfortunately at his size at the next level, he will need to show more of a perimeter game, and although he tried some mid-range shots during the LSI, he was not able to make any and it was not clear if this was a polished skill for him. But his mature body certainly works to his advantage and because he’s also a good student, schools in the Patriot League and Princeton are hot after his services for next season. He will sign in the spring.

Brian Johnson, Bishop O’Connell, 6-9, Forward/Center, Junior

Stats: 12.3 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 2.5 bpg, 2.8 spg, .500 fg, .357 ft

These days, many big men want to run the break, throw behind-the-back passes, or shoot the three. But if you want a traditional post man who will score down low, dominate on the boards, and intimidate on defense, you’ll want Brian Johnson. Johnson was far from the most flashy player at the LSI, but he was definitely among the most dominant players in the tournament. Already built like a man at 6-9, 220 pounds, Johnson knows his home is in the lane and he sticks with that. On offense, he posted up strong underneath, and when he had the opportunity to receive the ball (which was limited at times due to sagging zone defenses), he displayed post moves extremely advanced for his age and a soft touch on turnarounds to either his right or his left. He also showed the ability to face up and shoot the mid-range jumper and it wouldn’t be surprising if he could hit the occasional three. He was absolutely a beast on the boards, and there wasn’t a defensive rebound in his area that he didn’t grab. On defense, he was able to not only block his share of shots, but alter many more simply through intimidation when he was in the area. He also showed the ability to come out to guard players on the perimeter, and had quick hands to grab a number of steals. While he’s not a gazelle like Ebi, Johnson does run the floor well and shows some nimbleness in finishing plays around the hoop. One thing Johnson will need to work on is his free throw shooting, although it does appear he has nice form. Originally from North Carolina, this mature, skilled big man is being courted by the likes of UNC and Duke as well as just about every other top college program in the nation. He’ll most certainly be one of the Top 10 players in the strong Class of 2004. Johnson was an All-Tournament selection.

Maarty Leunen, Redmond, 6-9, Forward, Junior

Stats: 24.0 ppg, 13.3 rpg, 2.3 apg, 2.3 bpg, .667 fg, .657 ft

With the big numbers Leunen put up in the tournament from the field and on the boards, you’d think that he was an brute in the paint. But the truth is while Leunen was tough to handle inside, he was as comfortable facing the basket as he was posting up. While the majority of the points he scored were off hoops in the lane, they mostly came from some great movement off the ball by him to get open underneath so that passers could find him. And, for the most part, when he got the ball inside, he was able to convert. Leunen showed the ability to run the floor, shoot from the perimeter with range, and handle the ball like a small forward at times. But because of his height and his willingness to play where the team needs him to play, he operates mostly down low. Leunen will need to build some strength, as he couldn’t finish some plays inside because he lacked the muscle to power his way in. But his combination of size and versatility will make him attractive as a sleeper recruit for some major programs, and currently Oregon State, California, and Gonzaga have shown early interest. And based on his performance in the LSI, more schools will likely start calling. Leunen was an LSI All-Tournament pick.

Dave Neal, Bishop O’Connell, 6-7, Forward, Sophomore

Stats: 8.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.0 spg, .452 fg, .833 ft

Upon first glance at Neal on the court, you wouldn’t think he was a hoopster for anything else than his height. He’s rather slow, probably couldn’t jump over a phone book, and has the build of a tight end. But what Neal lacks in athletic ability he more than makes up for with fundamentals, smarts, and all-out hustle. He showed fantastic ability in utilizing his solid frame to establish position inside, and after receiving the ball, displayed a nice turnaround one-handed flip shot in the post. He also faced up to the hoop and hit a few mid-range jumpers. Defensively, he may not have had the quickness to guard faster players, but did a good job hustling and staying in-between his assignment and the basket. Neal also helped out on the glass, and simply was in the right place at the right time for several putbacks – including the game-winner in the finals. Look for him to be highly pursued by some of the top programs in the Northeast over the next couple of years.

Eric Smith, Bishop O’Connell, 5-9, Guard, Junior

Stats: 16.0 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.5 apg, .511 fg, .464 3pt, .833 ft

A member of the LSI’s All-Tournament Team, Smith was a shooting star during the week. Basically if he was left open, the shot was good. While he played at the point for O’Connell, he really functioned more as a shooting guard, looking for his shot not just to keep the defense honest, but to break the many zones that the team faced during the tournament. While the majority of Smith’s shots were threes, he did show an ability to create a little for pull-ups off the dribble when the team faced more man defenses. While Smith rarely drove to the hole like a traditional point guard, that’s not to say he didn’t effectively run the team because he most certainly did, usually making good decisions and controlling the tempo as head coach Wootten called it from the bench. And defensively, Smith was a terror as he personally forced several five-second calls on opponents. Some schools may back off of Smith because of his height and the fact he’s not overly quick, but because of his smarts, skills, and his shooting ability, he will probably get some looks from some top programs in the future.

Fred Stanback, Bishop O’Connell, 6-5, Forward/Guard, Junior

Stats: 4.8 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.0 apg, .240 fg, .333 3pt, .455 ft

Stanback shot horribly from all ranges during the LSI, but did have some good moments. Offensively, Stanback is a swingman that operates on the wing and baseline, spotting up for catch-and-shoot type of jumpers from mid-range up to the college three-point line. He can put the ball on the floor a little bit, but seems to prefer playing more on the perimeter. He rarely forces shots, but rather picks his spots when he gets the opportunity. Stanback has a solid frame with a broad set of shoulders, but isn’t particularly quick nor athletic. In fact, it would be a good question who would win a footrace, him or teammate Dave Neal. But like Neal, what he lacks in athletic ability he makes up for in skill. During the tournament he helped out a little on the defensive boards, and like everyone else on O’Connell, played in your face defense. He’ll likely be recruited by Atlantic-10 and Big East schools.

Josh Tarver, Jesuit, 6-2, Guard, Sophomore

Stats: 12.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.5 apg, .447 fg, .360 3pt, .692 ft

The middle of the Tarver brothers plays the point for Jesuit and is probably the best shooter of all the siblings. He displayed a soft shot out to the three-point line with the ability to shoot off the dribble as well as simply launching after receiving the pass. While he wasn’t particularly creative with the basketball, Tarver played a solid floor game at the point and kept good care of the ball (with the exception of the game against Jefferson), keeping his teammates involved. Tarver will need to continue to get stronger and will need to play with more aggression, but that should come with experience. He should be recruited by many West Coast schools by the time he’s through. He also bears a facial resemblance to NBA player Kevin Ollie.

Seth Tarver, Jesuit, 6-4, Guard, Freshman

Stats: 11.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.3 apg, .450 fg, 0-7 3pt, .750 ft

The youngest Tarver brother is considered by many to be potentially the most talented of the trio. His combination of height and skills have some people believing he could eventually be a tall point guard. Currently, however, with brother Josh at the point, Seth is playing on the wing. He picked his spots on offense during the tournament, shooting mainly from mid-range on pull up jumpers or off of screens, utilizing his lightning fast release. Like brother Josh, he could stand to be more aggressive on offense and defense, but that likely will come as he has years to go in his high school career. West Coast schools will be all over him during his career, but he’s likely to be the brother that garners the most national interest if he continues to develop.

Zach Tarver, Jesuit, 6-4, Forward, Junior

Stats: 9.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.0 bpg, .457 fg, .333 ft

The oldest of the Tarver brothers (all younger siblings of former UCLA swingman Shon Tarver) – Zach is an athletic player who spent most of his time operating either on the baseline or underneath. While it’s clear he can rebound and defend against taller players, he will need to continue working on his perimeter skills if he is to become a serious Division I prospect. Just about all of Tarver’s baskets were layups underneath – and even those weren’t gimmes – and his range did not extend past a few feet. He was also, to put it nicely, an adventure from the free throw line. But the athletic ability is there for this dual-sport athlete who is also a tight end on the football team.

Other players from Oregon high schools that had a good showing:

Josh Akwuneke, Westview, 6-4, Guard/Forward, Senior

Stats: 15.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg

This lithe swingman showed some athleticism and a pretty nice touch from the outside. He is being recruited by some small colleges but may show up on the radar of a small D-I program if he has a big year.

Isaiah Allen, Jefferson, 6-2, Guard, Senior

Stats: 10.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg

Allen transferred from rival Benson Tech and is still learning the system, but showed the ability to explode on offense on occasion. Very athletic, he made a living driving to the basket. He may need to go the JUCO route, but he could eventually find himself playing D-I ball someday.

James Loe, Hillsboro, 5-11, Guard

Stats: 16.3 ppg, 5.3 apg

Despite the fact he’s probably really only about 5-8, Loe showed off incredible quickness and the ability to create shots for himself or his teammates at any time. A tremendous ball-handler, if he can continue to stay under control, he could garner some D-I interest from a mid-major school by his senior year.

Jay Mayernik, Thurston, 6-5, Forward

Stats: 17.8 ppg, 10.3 rpg

Mayernik’s a very strong kid and was able to muscle his way in the paint for points and rebounds throughout the tournament. While he lacks D-I athleticism and height for his position, there may be a program out there that would consider him as a walk-on.

Jerae Nelson, Jefferson, 6-4, Forward

Stats: 7.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg

Nelson shot a high percentage mainly off of inside buckets and mid-range baseline jumpers, and helped out consistently on the glass. This undersized forward with a football player’s frame could be a sleeper for a smaller school.

Some other tidbits from the tournament:

Top Game

The tournament final between Bishop O’Connell and Westbury Christian gave fans almost everything they wanted in a high school basketball game, including the fantastic finish.

Top Play

In Westbury Christian’s semi-final win over Jefferson, a block of Thomas Gardner’s driving layup by Ndudi Ebi in the waning seconds helped preserve the slim Wildcat lead. Ebi leaped up in the sky to block Gardner’s shot, pinning the basketball on the glass near the top of the square above the rim, in a play that drew gasps from everyone in the crowd.

Tournament All-Name Team

Sam Huston, Redmond

Ugo Ihekweazu, Westbury Christian

Nike Johnson, Redmond

Rockwell Moody, Bishop O’Connell

Terrence Two Two, Jefferson

In all, the Les Schwab Invitational was a fantastic, fun-filled four day event which not only showcased the top talent in the area – and nationwide – but also raised over $30,000 for all of the participating school’s athletic programs, thanks to the generous support of the many sponsors involved.

For more information about high school basketball in the Pacific Northwest, be sure to check out:

Official LSI Tournament Site


The Oregonian Prep Boys Basketball Coverage

Bill Lunceford contributed to this report.


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-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – May 30, 2018

May 30, 2018 by

The NBA Draft and its deadline to withdraw to return to school leads the way in our latest podcast. We also look at one conference’s new scheduling plans, a number of quick hitters, and pay tribute to a fallen conference leader.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 26, 2018

April 27, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we spend a lot of time looking at what the Commission on College Basketball came up with, as their report was just produced. We also look at the NBA Draft and transfers, which have many rosters potentially in flux for next season.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 6, 2018

April 6, 2018 by

In our first podcast in the postseason, we look back one more time on the NCAA Tournament, which was just what we needed at this time. We also look at the NIT, CBI and CIT, as well as important transactions with players leaving early for the NBA Draft and coaching changes.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 3, 2018

April 3, 2018 by

The 2018 national championship is in the books, and with it another season of college basketball. We break down the national championship game and some of its implications to wrap up the season.

College Basketball Tonight – April 1, 2018

April 2, 2018 by

Welcome to our Final Four edition of College Basketball Tonight. In this edition, we look ahead to Monday’s national championship game, and bring on two guests – long-time Villanova radio play-by-play broadcaster Ryan Fannon and Radford head coach Mike Jones – to get their thoughts and insights on the game.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Lincoln captures Hamilton Park title

August 15, 2017 by

For the first time, a public school won the Hamilton Park Summer League, and they were led by a big effort from a junior point guard in the title game.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Boston Shootout

June 12, 2017 by

Some news and notes coming from the second and final day of action at the 2017 Boston Shootout, where the host program provided plenty of talent, but so did a program that produced a team that beat them.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.