At the end of the Pangos Dream Classic matchup between Southwest Atlanta
Christian and Dominguez the scoreboard read 66-52. If you are a Dons fan I hope
you were there to see the scoreboard, because the official score book reads a
forfeit by Dominguez.
The Insiders.com ranks LaMar Roberson the third best prospect at the small forward slot this year. He had not shown up on West Coast rankings prior to this season because Roberson was not, in fact, on the West Coast. When he transferred from his hometown to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to (Compton) Dominguez this off-season it was, at least in part, to help raise his grades and get him eligible for the college scholarship that seemed inevitable. Through the first 14 games Dominguez (currently ranked #4) had played without Roberson while his eligibility was reviewed by the Southern Section, but last Saturday he suited up to take part in the Pangos Dream Classic. Dominguez faced Southwest Atlanta Christian, and the likely #1 pick in this year's NBA Draft, 6'11" Dwight Howard.
Offensively Roberson's line isn't impressive, but when Howard drew his third foul with nearly three minutes left in the first quarter, it became apparent that Roberson's quickness had helped give Dominguez the advantage. Howard sat for the rest of the first half, and by the break the Dons led by 20+ points. When the Southern Section announced Wednesday that Dominguez would officially have to forfeit the game, questions arose about Roberson, Dominguez and the Southern Section.
The Southern Section claims they are still waiting for paperwork confirming Roberson's official change of address, but sources close to the Dominguez program say the paperwork had been filed before the Christmas holiday.
Either way it appears Roberson took the court without officially getting clearance to do so from the Southern Section. Despite the contest being a one-day exhibition, the forfeit counts as a loss to the Dominguez squad, moving them from 12-3 to 11-4. It still remains to be seen if Dominguez's play on the court against maybe the best Prep player in the nation will affect their ranking when next week's Top 20 comes out.
Repeated attempts to contact Dominguez Head Coach Russell Otis failed, but in my opinion the Southern Section is playing the Grinch long after Christmas has passed. Roberson is an elite prospect, and his team was playing in an event essentially put together to let the top coaches and scouts watch the top prospects. These events can elevate a player's stock ten fold, and to deny Roberson the chance to perform on such a stage does not promote fair play, but instead hurts a kid and his chances to get a college education.
If it was a section game, if it was an in state game, I could understand, then the regulations should be enforced, but no state titles are going to be won or lost at the Pangos Dream Classic. The event organizers certainly were not dismayed by Roberson's appearance, and I'm relatively certain none of the college and pro scouts in attendance were angered by Roberson either. This was an event where people came to see Howard, Sebastian Telfair, Terrance Williams and other top ranked national players compete against the best California has to offer. LaMar Roberson is one of the best California has to offer. Let the kid play.
Part of me hopes that it is shown that the paperwork was, in fact, in on time. That the Southern Section is wrong and the game goes back on the books. But most of me doesn't care one way or the other. LaMar Roberson gave up four inches and fifty pounds to Howard, and never backed down. He played tough defense, rebounded well, and helped his team to a victory. I don't care what your street address is, that is the way basketball is supposed to be played, and I commend anyone who plays the game the right way.
I suppose it is even possible that Otis and Roberson knew that the kid was not eligible. There is no indication that this is the case, but even if it was I do not care. Coach Otis has two jobs, to educate and promote his athletes. No one in the Southern Section has claimed that Roberson's grades would keep him from playing, in fact there is every indication that the move to Dominguez has done its job and Roberson's grades are up. The Dream Classic was chance to help a student athletes get some well deserved attention, and possibly get a college scholarship in the process.
Four years from now when Roberson is (I hope) getting his college degree I doubt he'll think back much on the Southern Section's decision. In fact barring further repercussions I doubt anyone at Dominguez will think about this situation much past today. But the Southern Section should spend quite a bit of time thinking about this, and they should see the error of their ways.
Like it or not in some circumstances High School Basketball has become an audition. For more than twenty years people have chided the NCAA for making billions off kids who are not allowed to accept a steak dinner. There is a large contingent of experts who say that the Division I college athlete is getting a raw deal. Now the Southern Section is starting the process at the High School Level. The Pangos Dream Classic had, by some estimates, more than 6000 people in attendance. Ticket prices ranged from $10 to $20 and were sold through Ticketmaster. None of that money went to the athletes who were on display; the only fruit LaMar Roberson could pick from that tree was a potential college scholarship. If the Southern Section had their way, he would not have even been given that opportunity.