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Early 2003 LSI Preview

July 14, 2003 Columns No Comments

Early 2003 LSI Preview

by Jed Tai

It’s only July, but the folks at Promax Events are already planning for
this upcoming high school season in the state of Oregon. The field has been
set for the 8th annual Les Schwab Invitational, to be held December 19-22 at
the Chiles Center on the campus of the University of Portland. While the LSI
traditionally brings some of the top prep talent nationally to the Pacific
Northwest, the group on hand for this year’s event will especially feature some
of the top post players in the land.

“The Les Schwab Invitational is excited to have some of the best big
men in the country playing in the tournament this year,” said John McCallum,
Tournament Director and Vice-President of Promax. “We have six guys over 6-9
who are considered major college Division I talent and are the in the caliber
of current NBA players and past LSI participants Tyson Chandler, Carmelo
Anthony, Mike Dunleavy and Nbudi Ebi. We can expect to see a lot of athletic,
big bodied high school players dunking and blocking shots over the four days of
the tournament.”

Here are this year’s 16 invitees, three from outside the Beaver State,
and 13 from within:

Georgetown Prep Little Hoyas (Washington, DC)

Prentiss HS Saints (Prentiss, MS)

Hillcrest HS Hokes (Tuscaloosa, AL)

Aloha HS Warriors (Beaverton, OR)

Barlow HS Bruins (Gresham, OR)

Benson HS Techmen (Portland, OR)

Hillsboro HS Spartans (Hillsboro, OR)

Jefferson HS Democrats (Portland, OR)

Jesuit HS Crusaders (Portland, OR)

Lake Oswego HS Lakers (Lake Oswego, OR)

Lincoln HS Cardinals (Portland, OR)

Marist HS Spartans (Eugene, OR)

Redmond HS Panthers (Redmond, OR)

South Salem HS Saxons (Salem, OR)

Sunset HS Apollos (Portland, OR)

West Albany HS Bulldogs (Albany, OR)

This year’s out-of-state participants will have some serious horses in
the paint. Prentiss High School will be led by 6-9, 260-pound man-child Al
Jefferson, who is considered the No. 1 prep center in the country by
RivalsHoops.com. Jefferson has verbally committed to Arkansas, but could be
considering the NBA. Hillcrest High School will have a stud inside presence of
their own in 6-9, 230-pound D.J. White. White has decided to attend Indiana
and is also rated a Top 10 national recruit by RivalsHoops. Georgetown Prep
will bring to Portland a pair of big men in 6-9, 225-pound Davis Nwankwo and
mammoth 7-2, 270-pound Roy Hibbert. Hibbert committed to Georgetown University
after his sophomore season and Nwankwo is still considering several major D-I

But the LSI this year won’t be just about the out-of-state teams, as
one of the best group of teams the state of Oregon has ever seen will be there.
Practically every likely pre-season Top 10 squad will be in the tournament, as
well as every highly recruited prep player in the state. Each of the 13
in-state teams will make their claim to the LSI title. Headlining the group is
Redmond, the defending 4A state champions who will be led by 6-9, 210-pound
superstar forward Maarty Leunen. Leunen, who is still considering Oregon,
Oregon State, Cal, Gonzaga, and many others in the recruiting process, is the
returning state player of the year. The Panthers finished in 3rd in last
year’s Les Schwab Invitational.

But Redmond won’t be alone, as many of the teams that finished at the
top of last year’s rankings will be in the tournament as well. Last year’s
state tournament runner-up Hillsboro is once again in the field, and dynamo
point guard James Loe hopes to kick-start a fantastic senior season. State
fourth place finisher Jesuit is a year more experienced and will also be at the
Chiles Center, led by the talented brother backcourt duo of Josh and Seth
Tarver. Perennial power Jefferson, which won the consolation bracket in the
state tournament, will be without the star power they’ve had in the past but
the Demos are a group of young kids that head coach Marshall Haskins claims
will surprise some people, even though “they are kids nobody knows about”.

Troy Berry will be making his LSI head coaching debut in this year’s
event, leading his alma mater Benson Tech. Guard Deshawn McKenzie is the
Techmen’s top returning offensive threat. The school Berry left, defending PIL
(Portland Interscholastic League) Lincoln, will also be in the field. The
Cardinals will be led by a new head coach, but they return star players such as
point guard Omar Leary and exciting forward LaTravis Turner. The teams invited
from in-state aren’t limited to the big boys either. 3A powerhouse Marist from
Eugene has also been brought on, and led by star forward Ryan Coldren, they
hope to make a splash. Other teams that figure to make some noise during the
school year include Sunset, South Salem, and West Albany.

Last year, Bishop O’Connell of
Arlington, VA defeated Westbury Christian of Houston, TX
– which featured
first round NBA draft choice Ndudi Ebi – 59-57 on a last-second, buzzer-beating
follow. This year’s field hopes to bring about the same kind of excitement.

Hoopville will be once again providing full coverage of the tournament,
so be sure to check back in December for more information on the 2003 LSI.


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