Belated Beverly In Bloom

How's that old saying go? "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." Out at Leuzinger High near L.A., there's a history of late blooming prospects. Is Donnell Beverly next?

Every year around this time the phone rings. It's always the same old story about a prospect that is flying under the radar and isn't being recruited.

Every year around this time when the phone rings and its Reggie Morris, we pick up because the story never gets old.

Morris, the high school coach at Lawndale (Calif.) Leuzinger, knows late bloomers.

Morris coached Dorell Wright, the preps to pros member of the Miami Heat. Last year he guided Russell Westbrook from mid-major status, to a spot in the Top 100 and all the way to Westwood where he's on the verge of what appears to be a bright career at UCLA.

Morris, who clearly must have something to do with the development of these kids, deflects the attention. "It's just the kids that we get here," the coach said. "They aren't AAU kids from the jump."

Take Westbrook for example. A classic late-blooming wing, it was a 50-point outburst that turned heads and put him in the spotlight. This season's Westbrook at Leuzinger is 6-foot-3 point guard Donnell Beverly.

"He didn't have the 50 point game that Russell had to push him over the top," Morris said. "But, he had a 40 point game a few weeks ago."

Close enough. Why? Because Morris knows sleepers.

Beverly graded out as a 3-star prospect last spring and summer. Morris says he's getting better. "He's being aggressive. He was always thinking he had to get other guys involved. I got him one guy to get the ball to and I tried to get him a few more but we fell short in getting him some help."

Beverly is getting 19 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists a game. Still, the attention is slow to come his way. Kent State has offered, Fresno State dabbled and many are gun shy to move forward with him. In fairness, he still has to qualify, but Morris indicated its not going to be a problem; Beverly will make it.

Morris has a few theories why Beverly isn't receiving the attention. The coach said his guy may not be a "West Coast point guard."

"I don't think they got seen this summer the way you need to appreciate his game. He won't overwhelm you one time you need to see him over a few times to appreciate him. He's not the West Coast speed burner and that's what's drawing back on him. He might get appreciated more in the Midwest or back East where physicality is appreciated."

Others aren't so what position Beverly is. However, Morris is positive. "He's nothing else but a point. You can play him off the ball but he's the best passer I've seen since Jordan Farmar. He's so big and strong and can do so many things. You want the ball in his hands, he's so unselfish."

The question begs to be answered: who is going to take the time to figure out Beverly's a pretty good player. Right now, only Kent State is pushing. Like Kent does with all of Morris' players, they recruit them hard.

Kent State assistant Josh Oppenheimer signed Wright at DePaul. He chased Westbrook vigorously last year and has Beverly in his sights this time around.

So, aside from Kent State, who's going to figure it out? "Last year everyone agreed with me," Morris said. "This year it's more me saying it. The people out here are starting to figure it out. They knew (Beverly's) good. He had a really good senior year."

Add up the facts – good program, history of late bloomers, strong senior season – and the conclusion looks obvious on paper: Donnell Beverly is next in line at Leuzinger to become a sleeper spring steal.

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