The national junior college basketball tournament last weekend showcased Joey Johnson, the former Banning High star and legendary leaper who led the College of Southern Idaho to the national title.
After two years playing off-Broadway in Twin Falls, Ida., Johnson is ready to make the leap to the big time at a four-year school. Johnson, 6-4, used his extraordinary jumping ability--said to approach 48 inches--as an effective forward at Southern Idaho where he averaged 17.5 points and led the team to a 37-1 record.
In the national tournament, Johnson's team won four straight games and he averaged 18 points, earning all-tournament honors. Observers say Johnson, youngest brother of Boston Celtics star Dennis Johnson, has developed into a solid player but, as was the case in high school, it is his jumping and flair for dunks that leave a lasting impression. Steve Crump, sports editor of the Twin Falls News, said Johnson "played forward and did a lot of the dirty work inside, but his jumping ability is legendary."
Johnson and coaches at Southern Idaho couldn't be reached, but Crump said the word around Twin Falls is that Johnson wants to play close to home and that USC Coach George Raveling has the inside recruiting track.
That could change after Johnson's championship performance in the tournament.
Cal State Dominguez Hills basketball Coach Dave Yanai, coming off a record-setting season, has been named Division II West Region coach of the year by the National Assn. of Basketball Coaches. Yanai is one of 11 Division II coaches in the running for national coach of the year honors, which will be announced Sunday at New Orleans where the Division I final-four tournament is being held.
Yanai, who has a 153-114 record in 10 seasons at Dominguez Hills, won his second California Collegiate Athletic Assn. title and swept the CCAA Tournament as well, qualifying for Division II regionals. The Toros finished with a 22-9 record, the best in school history and Yanai's fourth 20-win season.
Looking for the next great guard combination? Washington High School girls basketball Coach Phil Chase says look no farther than his junior varsity back court where cousins Detra Lockhart and Remitha Houston recently led Washington to the Los Angeles City junior varsity championship.
The duo scored about 80% of the team's points, averaging about 15 apiece. Furthermore, Chase said, "they amazed spectators with slithery moves, sweet jumpers and amazing defense, comparable to many stars much older."
Chase said that the cousins, "like many famous duos such as West-Goodrich and Frazier-Monroe," are complementary on the court but have contrasting personalities off it.
Houston, known to friends as Missa, is the outgoing, talkative one. "She encourages, berates and cheers her teammates," Chase said, "and she has the sorrow of Pagliacci" when called for a foul or violation. Chase said that when his varsity lost in the playoffs by a large margin to Crenshaw, she consoled him afterward: "I'm proud of you Mr. Chase, you didn't throw your notebook on the ground at all."
Lockhart, who had 121 rebounds and 97 steals in 16 games, is the quiet, inwardly competitive one, in the classroom as well as in sports. "The person with whom she is often most irate is herself," Chase said. "Detra is a perfectionist and, barring unforeseen circumstances, will push herself to stardom."