Twelve high school senior basketball prospects in Southern California stand above all others, according to basketball scout Don Mead. Ten have decided which college they will attend next fall.
Mead, who runs the Irvine-based Western Basketball Prospect Scouting Service, said there are no perfect 10s in this year's senior class, but there are solid Division I prospects.
Three players in Southern California are rated as 9s by Mead and all play in the front court: Fairfax forward Sean Higgins, Dominguez forward Ron Coleman and Mater Dei center LeRon Ellis.
"Those three are among the best prospects in the country," Mead said. "Southern California has always been the area that produces the vast majority of major college basketball players that come from the West."
The top 12 seniors:
Sean Higgins (Fairfax, 6-8, F): Higgins, one of the most prolific scorers in the country, says he will attend UCLA. He averaged 26 points and nine rebounds a game last season and is expected to help make Fairfax one of the top teams in the state.
Ron Coleman (Dominguez, 6-6, F): Another smooth outside shooter, he will attend USC. He averaged 12.5 points and nine rebounds and helped lead the Dons to a 22-6 record last season.
LeRon Ellis (Mater Dei, 6-10, C): Ellis is just starting to find out what he can do on the court, according to Mead. The son of former NBA player LeRoy Ellis, LeRon averaged 14.8 points and seven rebounds a game and has signed with Kentucky. Ellis, who runs like a guard, will probably play forward in college because the Wildcats signed Johnny Pittman, a 7-foot center from Texas.
Brian Williams (St. Monica, 6-10, F): Williams transferred to St. Monica from Las Vegas and it didn't take long for him to make an impact on the Southern California basketball scene. Williams' stock went way up at the summer camps, especially at the Nike Camp at Princeton, N.J. A powerful inside player, Williams will team with guard Jason Matthews to give the Mariners one of the best one-two punches in the CIF Southern Section. Williams is undecided about a college.
David Whitmore (St. Bernard, 6-4, F): With a 42-inch vertical jump, he is perhaps the most spectacular player in Southern California. Whitmore, who averaged 23 points and seven rebounds last season, signed with Georgia Tech. He must improve his outside shooting to play the shooting guard position at a major college, according to Mead.
Tank Collins (Pomona, 6-5, F): His real first name is Derwin, but one look at Collins' physique takes away any mystery about how he acquired his moniker. Collins averaged 19 points and 11 rebounds but needs to work on his grades, according to Mead.
Mark Georgeson (Marina, 6-10, C): Georgeson became a big prospect by improving last season and in spring and summer leagues. He signed a letter of intent with Arizona and is the second-best senior big man in Orange County, after Ellis. Georgeson is an intelligent and mentally tough player, according to Mead.
Kevin Williams (Verbum Dei, 6-3, G): Williams, who averaged 22 points for the Eagles, has signed with UCLA. He's a good ball handler and shooter.
Duane Cooper (Lakewood, 6-0, G): A point guard, he averaged 16 points and six assists for the Lancers. He has signed with USC. "A born leader," Mead said. "Duane overcomes any height disadvantage with exceptional jumping ability."
Sean Rooks (Fontana, 6-10, C): Rooks, the best senior prospect from the Inland Empire, is going to Arizona next year. A physical inside player, he averaged 16 points, 14 rebounds and four blocked shots last season.
Ricky Butler (Ocean View, 6-7, F): Like Rooks, Butler has built his reputation as a physical inside player. Butler, who signed with Kansas, has been one of the best players in Orange County for two seasons. He averaged 16.2 points and 11.6 rebounds. Mead said Butler is the best rebounder in Southern California.
Mike Elliott (Dominguez, 6-3, G): Elliott, who has signed with UC Santa Barbara, averaged eight points a game. He is another player who took advantage of spring and summer leagues to gain recognition from college coaches.