Late Bloomer Tag Suits Westbrook

Sprout a few inches since early in your high school career; add in a big time GPA and a scoring average in the mid-20s and you've got all the ingredients for a late bloomer.

With guys like Adam Morrison and Tyrus Thomas tearing up college basketball, the biggest mistake college recruiters could make would be to ignore the late bloomers. What's a late bloomer?

Well, late bloomers are guys who grow a little, find their game in the 2nd half or final season of their high school career and manage to fly under the radar in more ways than one.

When it comes to Russell Westbrook, Lawndale (Calif.) Leuzinger coach Reggie Morris says the "late bloomer" tag applies to his guy and the coach says "late bloomer's" are motivated.

"They're still hungry," Morris said. "They're trying to prove a point."

In the case of Westbrook, Morris and the guard saw the pluses in not signing early despite visits to Kent State and Creighton.

"He wanted to play out the season and he knew that with his grades the way they are he would get (bigger) offers. With him playing with us and being a 3-year starter, he was going to have a real good season. You want to prove to people that you're better than the guys they're saying are better than you. I knew he would do that and he's come through."

Come through? How about 25.9 points per game, 3.5 steals, 4 assists and a 3.7 GPA? Sounds like a guy you might want to recruit and sign late, right? High-majors are likely to come in and visit with him but Morris warns biggest isn't necessarily best.

"Just because there are bigger name places involved doesn't mean those places are the best for him."

By the way, if Leuzinger rings a bell, the school is home to another famous late bloomer: Dorell Wright, now a member of the Miami Heat.

Westbrook holds offers from San Diego, New Mexico, Utah, New Mexico State, Creighton, Kent State, LMU and Pepperdine. Miami came in to see him recently, Washington is snooping around and Oregon is asking for him to come visit.

"To be honest, the University of San Diego is on him really hard," Morris said.

"He hasn't even begun to think about his recruitment. He's thinking about our season and he wants to win. His process will begin after the season is up. By him taking us deeper into the playoffs more and more people are coming out to see him."

Morris has no doubt that Westbrook can play at the highest level. He's grown in stature, matured with his game and has assimilated no matter where he's played.

"If you throw him in at any level he's not going to sink, he'll swim," Morris said. "You could throw him anywhere and I believe that because of his upside he'll be much bigger and better because of his upside. I can see him being a whole lot better than he is right now which is real scary."

So, the 6-2 competitor is about to become quite the spring target. Some will question whether he's a flash in the pan capitalizing on his big senior season. They'll wonder if that because he wasn't a popular guy on the circuit last summer if his game will translate to college. On the other hand, reports out of his area indicate he's the real deal and someone is going to pluck a gem out of the L.A. area.

"Everybody's skeptical and late bloomers bring skeptics."

Morrison and Thomas had their skeptics too.

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