The 12th edition of The Times' All-Orange County basketball team has a distinctive Pacific-10 Conference flavor, featuring four players who have signed national letters of intent to play in the conference next season.
Brea-Olinda's Kevin Walker (UCLA), Saddleback's Bryant Walton (Cal), Katella's Bob Erbst (USC) and Mater Dei's Stuart Thomas (Stanford) head the list of selections.
The team also includes the county's best point guard, Nathan Call of Capistrano Valley, and Mater Dei's graceful junior center, LeRon Ellis, who is projected by some as the state's best center next season.
The 10-player squad is considered the most talented since the all-star team's inception in 1975 with only the 1981 team featuring Wayne Carlander (USC), Johnny Rogers (UC Irvine), Tony Neal (Cal State Fullerton) and Scott Sinek (Brigham Young) approaching it in terms of quality.
"The Class of '81 in Orange County had some quality players, but it didn't come close to the depth of this year's all-stars," said Don Mead, who runs a high school scouting service for 169 colleges.
"There are more players in the county this year who have signed with Division I schools than any previous year," Mead said. "This was the best year ever."
Walton, a 6-foot 4-inch guard, is considered the most versatile player. He was among the county leaders in four categories, averaging 24.3 points per game, 11.2 rebounds, 6.4 assists, and shooting 56% from the field.
Walker, a 6-10 center, is rated as one of the country's best-shooting big men. He established school records for single-game, season and career scoring marks. Walker, a three-year starter, averaged 26.7 points and shot 51% with excellent range.
Erbst, a 6-9 forward with the moves of a guard, averaged 21.5 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Knights to the CIF Southern Section 3-A division semifinals.
Thomas, also a 6-9 forward, lost only one game in two seasons at Mater Dei. The Monarchs compiled a 59-1 record and won two 5-A division titles.
Three players--Walker, Erbst and Ricky Butler of Ocean View--are repeat selections from last season's team. Butler and Ellis are the only underclassmen on the team.
The selections were based on ballots from the county's coaches. The players were chosen on the basis of their ability, regardless of class or position.
The players, along with their parents and coaches, will be the guests of The Times at an awards brunch at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 12, at the Disneyland Hotel. The guest speaker will be Jim Harrick, who has led Pepperdine University to four West Coast Athletic Conference titles the past five years.
The county's player of the year and coach of the year will be announced at the awards presentation.
Here are the player profiles of The Times' 1985-86 All-Orange County team:
Ricky Butler (Ocean View): Butler averaged 16.2 points, 11.5 rebounds and shot 62.5%. He was named to all-tournament teams at the San Dimas Tournament of Champions and the King Cotton Classic, a national tournament in Pine Bluff, Ark. that included eight of country's best teams. Butler outplayed heralded J.R. Reid of Kempsville, Va., in a head-to-head meeting in Pine Bluff.
"To say the least it was a great year for Ricky," said Jim Harris, Ocean View coach. "He learned to shoot outside and showed he can face the basket. His stock went way up by shooting 62%, and those weren't all layups. He faced adversity and did a lot of growing up this year."
Nathan Call (Capistrano Valley): The Cougars won 100 games in four years with Call on the varsity. He averaged 13 points, 8.8 assists and 4.2 steals this season and was generally regarded as the county's best point guard over the past two seasons.
"We won 12 league games by an average margin of 18 points and three playoff games by an average of 27 points," said Mark Thornton, Capistrano Valley coach. "We had four players average in double figures. All of them can thank Nathan for their success."
LeRon Ellis (Mater Dei): Ellis, the son of former Laker star LeRoy Ellis, was a pleasant surprise for the Monarchs after transferring from Parkrose High in Portland. Ellis averaged 14.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and shot 51% from the field. He established himself as the county's best center in the playoffs and was named the most valuable player in the Southern Section's championship tournament.
"From Day One until now, I've never had a player who improved so much in one season as LeRon did," said Gary McKnight, Mater Dei coach. "Next year, he'll rank with any center in the nation. He's so agile and graceful, you sometimes forget he's 6-10."
Bob Erbst (Katella): Erbst led the county in rebounding with a 13.0 average. He scored 593 points, which ranks him fourth on the school's single-season scoring list behind former stars Rick Aberegg (687), Jeff Welshans (653) and Bob Sherwin (635). Erbst's 368 rebounds this season also rank him fourth at the school behind Welshans (420), Jim Laube (407) and Jeff Hutton (406).