PREP NOTES WITH A TWIST

The best of summer basketball camps, a recap of the Shrine All-Star Football Game and Nike 7-ON-7 football events, a preview of the EA Sports Elite 11 Quarterback Camp and news of a new all-time state best in track. Photo by Kirby Lee/The Sporting Image.

•SUMMER CAMPIN: In boys and girls basketball, this is an especially important time of the year. The state's top boys players have been in Indianapolis for the Nike camp and in Teaneck, N.J., for the addidas ABCD camp. The girls also have been at Nike and in Duluth, Ga., for the addidas Top 10 camp.

The biggest news among the California kids had nothing to do with a college commitment, but more about a possible switch of high schools. Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood, the three-time all-state guard who's led Lynwood to two straight Div. I state titles, told USA Today that she was leaving the school, probably to attend Ganesha of Pomona, which is around the corner from where her family lives. Sa'de's father, Jerry, however, told Clay Kallam (who works with us on the Student Sports FAB 50 national rankings) that nothing was yet final. He did say that the 45-minute one-way commute from the family's home to the Lynwood campus was becoming tiresome. And with Sa'de already committed to Tennessee, it's not as if she needs another state championship to help herself rise much higher than she already is on national college prospect lists.

At the addidas Top 10 camp, a team including many La Jolla Country Day players, led by Candice Wiggins, played in the championship game. Wiggins has had an outstanding summer so far and has even moved up on national lists of the top volleyball prospects. She says she's going to play both sports in college.

The two boys players from California that seem to have moved up the charts the most this summer have been point guard Jordan Farmar from Taft of Woodland Hills and shooting guard Josh Shipp from Fairfax of Los Angeles. Shipp was the top three-point shooter at the Nike camp and Farmar has been ranked evenly and in some cases higher than more well-known national recruits like Sebastian Telfair of New York and Darius Washington of Florida.

Also in boys basketball, a transfer to note is that of 6-6 Tim Pierce from Fremont of Oakland. The All-SF Bay Area standout has said he's playing at Hercules this season.

GRADY SHINES FOR SHRINERS: In yet another revamped format of the state's oldest all-star football game, it was quarterback Tommy Grady from Edison of Huntington Beach who shined the most in the 53rd annual Shrine All-Star Classic last Saturday at Mt. San Jacinto College.

Grady connected on 17 of 27 passes for 220 yards and one touchdown to lead a team of all-stars from public schools in the L.A. City and Southern Section vs. a team of all-stars from private schools from the Southern Section. Grady's public school team won, 20-13.

Wide receiver Mark Bradford from L.A. Fremont had five catches for 110 yard and Long Beach Poly defensive end Junior Lemau'u had four sacks to also lead the publics. The privates featured wideout Joe Cowan of St. John Bosco. The UCLA-bound athlete caught nine passes for 185 yards and one TD.

The game did not feature any player from Northern California as most previous Shrine All-Star Classics have done. The series had a true North-South statewide format from its first year in 1952 until 1974 and some of the early games drew incredible crowds of as many as 85,000. The Shriners switched it to a North-South game involving only Southern California schools from 1974 to 1985 and then went back to include the entire state from 1986 to 1994.

Personally, those years from 1986 to 1994 were my favorite as I helped the Shriners with coaching selections for both squads and was almost like a player personnel director, especially for the North team. And in those years, the North had a winning record of 4-3-2 despite the South's population advantage and the supposed huge discrepancy in talent, a claim made the same folks who predicted De La Salle would get slaughtered the first time it played a top team from the South like Mater Dei or Bishop Amat.

Due to dwindling crowds, an attempt was made in 1995 to turn the Shrine Game into a California vs. Texas format. That first game saw an attendance of 10,000, but the crowds started falling off in the second year. Texas Shrine clubs never fully supported the game and that series was discontinued after last year's game.

We still prefer the entire statewide North-South games, but we're from Northern California and we know that Southern California just doesn't get as hyped up to beat NorCal as the NorCals are to beat the SoCals.

In another all-star football game played last weekend, a team of North Bay Leaguers defeated a team from the Sonoma County League, 28-0, in the 30th Kiwanis All-Star Bowl in Santa Rosa. Nine players from the NBL team were on last fall's juggernaut at Rancho Cotate of Rohnert Park, including 6-7, 270-pound defensive lineman Alex Morrow.

NIKE SEVEN-ON-SEVEN: (By Greg Biggins) For the second week in a row, Mission Viejo had to go through Hart of Newhall and Mater Dei of Santa Ana to win a passing tournament and did just that winning the first ever Nike 7 on 7 Championship, produced by Student Sports. The event brought together eight of the top football passing teams in Southern California and took place at Long Beach City College.

A week earlier at the Huntington Beach Edison tournament, Mission Viejo rolled through first Mater Dei and then Hart to easily win the tournament. It was a different story in the Nike 7-ON-7 as both Hart and Mater Dei brought their A game and gave the Diablos all they could handle.

Led by transfer QB Mark Sanchez and WR Marty Tadman, Mission Viejo came back from a 20-7 deficit to Hart in the semifinals and wound up on top, 28-27. In the final, Mission Viejo outlasted Mater Dei, 27-20. QBs Sean Norton of Hart and Jason Forcier of Mater Dei both shined during the day as well.

For more insights from this event, see Greg Biggins' writeup on the California football messageboard at studentsports.com.

Note: You're going to see some of the preseason rankings come out and you might be surprised to see Mission Viejo not ranked as high as you'd think. When those ratings were done, though, Sanchez's transfer from Santa Margarita had not yet been finalized. And it's obvious from the passing tournaments so far, that his presence is going to be a major plus for that team.

EA SPORTS ELITE 11 QBS: Brian Hildebrand of Corona was the final quarterback added to the roster of this year's EA Sports Elite 11 Quarterback Camp, which takes place this week at Rancho Capistrano in Southern California. Hildebrand, who emerged as a major Div. I college prospect for how he did at the Nike camps at both USC and Stanford, is actually considered the 12th quarterback at the Elite 11.

The only other California QB who will be at the camp is Canyon Country Canyon's Nate Longshore. He's a strapping 6-4, 215-pounder who lit it up for nearly 2,500 yards last fall for a team that went 11-2. As highly touted as Longshore is by college scouts, it's interesting to note that the most honored QB in his league last year was Hart's Sean Norton, who also will be back this fall. Norton, though, doesn't have that size that college coaches covet.

Previous California QBs who've participated at the EA Sports Elite 11 camp as high schoolers have been: (1999) Matt Cassel of Chatsworth, Casey Clausen from Alemany of Mission Hills, Chris Rix from Santa Margarita of Rancho Santa Margarita, Zac Wasserman of Westlake, Roman Ybarra of Vista, (2000) Billy Hart of Mission Viejo, Matt Leinart from Mater Dei, (2001) Trent Edwards of Los Gatos, Matt Gutierrez of De La Salle, Ryan O'Hara from Muir of Pasadena, Ben Olson of Thousand Oaks, Drew Olson of Piedmont, (2002) Dennis Dixon of San Leandro, Tommy Grady of Huntington Beach Edison, T.C. Ostrander of Menlo-Atherton and Kyle Wright from Monte Vista of Danville.

SIZZLIN' TRACK: Oh sure, we could easily say that the highlight of the summer track season for California high schoolers so far is what Long Beach Poly's Shalonda Solomon did last week at the Junior Pan American Games in Barbados. But our favorite performance is the one from Gayle Hunter of Riverside J.W. North at the World Youth Games on July 9-13 at Sherbrooke, Canada.

Hunter went to Canada to compete in the multi-event heptathlon and showed she may be a force down the road with a total of 5,291 points. Hunter, who was more known at J.W. North and earlier at Riverside King for her times in the hurdles, didn't win the heptathlon at the World Youth Games but her mark does go to No. 1 on the all-time state list. Hunter broke the previous reported heptathlon state mark of 5,237 points set in 1982 by Sharon Hatfield of Fountain Valley.

Now back to Solomon. The Long Beach Poly senior-to-be, who will have the state sprinting stage so to speak more to herself this next season now that Allyson Felix has graduated, earned three gold medals at the Junior Pan Am Games. She took first in the 100 in 11.35 seconds, dipped under 23 seconds in winning the 200 in 22.93 and anchored the U.S. women's team to victory in the 4x400 relay.


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