When Leon Wood of the Philadelphia 76ers was starring for St. Monica High School in the late 1970s, he was head and shoulders above other players selected for The Times' All-Westside prep basketball teams.
If Wood, a once-in-a-lifetime player, were still in high school and was named to this year's all-star squad, he might stick out by just a head.
Today's prep players go to more basketball camps, play in more summer leagues and get more coaching, and Wood probably would be in much better company on The Times' 1985 All-Westside team.
There also seemed to be more winning Westside teams in the 1984-85 season than in the past.
3 Outstanding Teams
Fairfax won a 3-A Los Angeles City championship, was 10-0 in the Western League and finished with a 25-2 record. Santa Monica and Coach Cliff Hunter took another CIF 4-A Bay League title with a 12-0 record, 21-5 overall. Culver City, rebuilding in recent years, was 9-1 in the 4-A Ocean League and tied Inglewood for the league championship, finishing the season with a 20-7 mark.
Crossroads, which won two out of three CIF Small Schools titles and a regional championship, moved up to 1-A and kept on winning. Coach Elliot Turrett's Roadrunners went to the 1-A finals and finished at 19-9. In 2-A, Daniel Murphy was 12-0 in the Santa Fe League, 1-1 in the playoffs and 20-7 overall for Coach Jim Tinker.
Palisades, coached by veteran Jerry Marvin, and Hamilton, with first-year Coach David Uyeshima, played in the Central League with state champion Crenshaw and were 13-10 overall.
St. Monica, which won a CIF 1-A title when Wood was playing, is now in the 5-A Camino Real League with powerful St. Bernard, Serra and Verbum Dei. But Coach Leo Klemm's Mariners were still tough to beat and finished with a 12-11 overall record.
Small Schools Impressive
In the CIF Small Schools Division, Bel-Air Prep and Yeshiva tied for first in the Westside League, each 11-1 in league play. Coach Tony Venditto and Bel-Air went to the playoff quarterfinals and the team was 17-7 overall; Yeshiva finished with a 16-4 mark for Coach Scott Rice. Windward (11-1 in league) won the Liberty League title and was 15-5 for the season under Bernie Goldfine and Mike Lann, co-coaches.
Most of the Westside's 18 teams were talent-laden, which made selection of the All-Westside team difficult. Not all top players could be included on the 10-man squad; some had to be given honorable mention.
The selection was based primarily on nominations from their coaches and other coaches. If a player was not nominated by his own coach or another school official, he was not considered for the team.
This year's all-stars are Tony Thomas and Sean Higgins, both of Fairfax; Carlton Davenport of Santa Monica, Jason Woodruff of Culver City, Marc Rudolph of Crossroads, Eric Brown of Daniel Murphy, Earl Duncan of St. Monica, Stephen Mills of Hamilton, Kenny Countryman of Beverly Hills and Robert Bibbs of Venice.
Davenport, Countryman Repeat
Davenport, The Times' Westside Player of the Year in 1984, and Countryman, the Ocean League's most valuable player, are repeaters from last year's team. The tallest player is 6-8 Higgins; the smallest is 5-8 Brown.
All-stars from the Westside and eight other Times circulation areas, their parents and coaches will be guests of The Times at a 7:30 p.m. reception Tuesday in Harry Chandler Auditorium at Times Mirror Square. USC Coach Stan Morrison, whose Trojans tied Washington for the Pacific 10 Conference title this year, will speak.
At the ceremony, players will receive trophies and certificates. Area players and coaches of the year also will be named.
The Westside team:
Thomas--The most valuable player in the Western League and named to the all-City tournament second team, he averaged 17.5 points and 7.2 rebounds and was probably Coach Harvey Kitani's most consistent player.
Higgins--Didn't break into the starting lineup until Fairfax had played a few games but was outstanding when he did. An All-Western League selection, Higgins, with a soft touch from the perimeter, averaged 17.7 points and 8.1 rebounds. He was named the best defensive player in the City tournament.
Davenport--Widely regarded as Southern California's best point guard, Davenport averaged 15 points, five assists and four steals.
Woodruff--Culver Coach Marty Siegal said his team wouldn't have been 20-7 without the "leadership and intelligence" of Woodruff. He averaged 12 rebounds and the same number of points and blocked four shots a game.
Rudolph--Probably the best pure shooter on the Westside, Rudolph, a junior who has played on the varsity since he was a freshman, averaged 22 points, six assists and three steals.
Brown--An All-Santa Fe League selection, Brown averaged 14.5 points, eight assists and five steals; a hard worker who played at both ends of the court.
Duncan--The heart of St. Monica's team, Duncan averaged 26.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, three assists and two steals.