King Fit For Explosive Tourney Final

Taylor King went for 46 points in a sizzling tournament championship game Sunday at Mater Dei High in Santa Ana (Calif.). But that almost wasn't enough for his team to overcome a Brandon Jennings-led Dominguez (Compton) team . . .

SANTA ANA, Calif.As far as high school basketball in June, it doesn't come any better than what took place on June 17-19 at Mater Dei High.


And I'm not talking about the traveling team/invitation-only-camp stuff, either.


I'm talking about real high school teams.


The two best teams, very arguably, in Southern California for the 2005-06 season, hooked up in the Mater Dei High Tournament final Sunday night and it's doubtful that anyone in the gymnasium is going to see 32 minutes of more on-the-edge-of-your-bleacher-seat excitement next December-March.


After the final Taylor King (Santa Ana Mater Dei) 3-pointer and post-up turn-around jumper, and the last of the Brandon Jennings (Compton Dominguez) open-court wizardry, it was Class of 2007 point guard Kamyron Brown who provided the two deciding plays in Mater Dei's 90-89 overtime victory over Dominguez for the championship.


The 6-foot-3 Brown, the cousin of former Mater Dei and University of Arizona standout Miles Simon, bailed out his team after it had fallen behind by four points on two free throws by the dazzling Jennings (who finished with 27 points, five assists and five steals) with 24 seconds remaining.


Brown nailed a 3-pointer with 18 seconds to go and, after a Dominguez reserve missed a couple of free throws with 15 seconds to play, sprinted about 70 feet with the ball for the go-ahead layin with nine seconds remaining.


After a timeout, Jennings – whose 3 from the right wing with a second to play put the game into overtime – missed wide right on another 3 at the buzzer.


The 6-7 King, truly one of the most versatile scorers in high school hoops, regardless of class level, scored 46 points before fouling out with 2:37 remaining in overtime. He hit 17 of 25 from the field (including four 3's) and all eight of his free throws to go with 10 rebounds.


His long-range jump shot may be his calling card but his post-up game is darn near impeccable.


As for Jennings, if there is a better prospect in the national Class of 2008 than the 6-1 (and sprouting rapidly) lefty, maybe I'll see him somewhere in July. But I kind of doubt it. He's better than all of the outstanding point guards in the West of the past 20 years (including Jason Kidd, Mike Bibby, Baron Davis and Jordan Farmar) at the same stage.


Until King and Jennings put on their 32-minute highlight show Sunday evening, the best individual performance in the 20-team event took place earlier that morning.


James Keefe went for 22 points, 14 rebounds, eight blocked shots and five assists in his Santa Margarita team's 67-65 semifinal loss to Dominguez, which got 22 points from Jennings (18 of those after intermission).


Anyone who doesn't think the UCLA-bound Keefe is a prime McDonald's All-America candidate and one of the best handful of four-man prospects in the Class of 2006 needs his (or hers, to demonstrate I don't have a gender bias) "expert/guru" credentials revoked.


A look at some of the other top prospects in the 20-team event:


Class of 2006

Patrick Christopher (6-4, Compton Dominguez): Christopher, who committed to Cal in January, recently transferred from Lakewood Mayfair. He could end up rated the No. 2 California-based wing in this class (next to Chase Budinger, naturally!).


Landry Fields (6-3, Los Alamitos): Long-armed (he's grown almost two inches this year) with a quick release and deep range on his jumper, he is one of Southern California's prime sleepers.


Dezon Otis (6-3, Compton Dominguez): The son of the Dominguez coach (Russell Otis, who was in Detroit Sunday watching alum Tayshaun Prince play for the Pistons) is developing into a full-fledged Division I shooting guard. He also defends very well.


Brandon Davis (6-1, Ontario The Colony): He is excellent in the open-court but is more of an undersized scoring guard than a point right now.


Dejon Jackson (6-1, Fresno Clovis West): In a state class with a shortage of point guards, he should be rated as one of the very best. His brother (Tyrone Jackson) plays at Arizona State.


Kevin Buggs (6-1, Long Beach Poly): He is another Southern California scoring guard who is developing rapidly. The lefty shoots with exceptional range and can finish around the rim under heavy contact.


Bussey Ellis (6-4, San Juan Capistrano JSerra): He's the best Orange County point guard in this class. He recently committed to Northern Arizona University.


Jonathan Gunderson (6-4, Santa Margarita): He's wiry (175-poundish) with exceptional shooting range and underrated ball-handling ability. He's also a sound man to man defender.


Mike Thompson (6-6, Santa Margarita): The son of the former NBA player and current Lakers' radio commentary (Mychal Thompson) has made immense progress over the spring after being a reserve as a junior. He played like a possible mid-major prospect over the weekend.


Chad DeCasas (6-5, Mission Viejo Capistrano Valley): Tough, strong and competitive, DeCasas has plenty of range on his jump shot and is skilled enough with the ball to get into the lane and score in traffic if he's pressured on the perimeter.


Danny Campbell (6-3, Santa Ana Mater Dei): He'll team with Taylor King to give Mater Dei the best set of long-range marksmen in California next season.


Mark Keeten (6-1, Riverside Ramona): Here's another entry for the SoCal Sleeper File. He hit five 3's in the first half of an eventual blowout loss to Mater Dei in the first round Friday. Looks/shoots like Deron Williams, the soon-to-be millionaire out of the University of Illinois.


Class of 2007

Alex Jacobson (6-11, Santa Ana Mater Dei): He tossed in a couple of sky hooks late in the second half against Dominguez. He's not the springiest fellow on the planet but doesn't bite on pump fakes and blocks a lot of shots.


Quinton Watkins (6-4, Compton Dominguez): He's more "play-finisher" than "play-maker" right now. The lefty is a very streaky shooter but few players in this class get to the rim quicker.


Maurice McGee (6-7, Riverside Ramona): He played well in the first half against Mater Dei before the Monarchs' overwhelming firepower put the end to any potential suspense as to the ultimate outcome. He is very active and finishes strongly. If his perimeter skills come along, he'll be one of the West's best a year from now.


Class of 2008

Jaime Serna (6-6 ½, Mission Viejo Capistrano Valley): He's still very raw but is an active rebounder and finisher and a surprisingly nifty passer out of the post.


Blake Arnet (6-0, Santa Ana Mater Dei): He could develop into Mater Dei's third guard at some point next season. He has solid quickness and plenty of range on his jump shot.


An April inductee into the USBWA Hall of Fame, Frank Burlison is's National Basketball Expert and is also a columnist for the Long Beach (Calif.) Press-Telegram. He can be reached at Read more of Burlison's pieces at


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