College scouts have streamed to Newbury Park High basketball games to check out Wayne Cook, a 6-foot-4 senior forward.
Nothing odd there--Cook led the team in scoring and rebounding the past 2 seasons and is averaging 25.5 points and 9 rebounds after 4 games. But most of the men observing Cook and scribbling notes are football scouts from Division I schools.
"There are quite a few scouts watching Wayne play basketball to evaluate the quickness of his feet as a football player," said Rick Scott, the Buena football coach and long-time friend of the Cook family. Wayne's father, Ken, is the football coach at Newbury Park and Scott began his coaching career as a Newbury Park assistant.
And scouts have concluded that Wayne's feet are, in fact, pretty darn quick. They already knew that his arm is pretty darn strong.
As Newbury Park's quarterback, Cook passed for 1,197 yards and threw only 3 interceptions in 7 games. Yet the season was a disappointment for Cook, who missed 3 games with a broken thumb on his passing hand as the Panthers missed the playoffs.
In addition, Cook's football responsibilities caused him to miss most of the basketball team's practices. Had he taken until after Christmas to heat up on the court, it would have been understandable. But Cook prepared himself in short order and the Panthers (4-0) are off to a blazing start.
Newbury Park, which is considered a co-favorite with Westlake to win the Marmonte League, won the Nordhoff tournament 2 weeks ago. Cook, who had 30 points in one game, was named MVP. He topped that with 34 points in a nonleague game against Calabasas.
"Our big key is to get the ball to Wayne Cook," Coach Ken Barone said, "because good things happen when we do that, whether it's shooting or passing.
And good things ought to continue to happen to Cook, whether shooting a basketball or passing a football.
A look at Marmonte teams follows:
* Newbury Park--The only senior starter other than Cook is forward Anthony Rutter, who averaged 6.8 points and 4.4 rebounds last season.
But a strong infusion of talented young players has Barone smiling. Junior Kevin Loveall (6-6) is the center and sophomore swingman Chris Falzone has played well so far. The backcourt consists of juniors Shane Gallimore and Brian Smith and sophomore Tim Lane.
* Westlake--Second-year Coach Greg Hess hopes that his tall team will reach new heights. Senior forward Kurt Schwan (6-8) should be the best inside player in the league.
Senior forwards Pete Mladina and Mike Waggoner, both 6-5, are also strong inside. The team lacks a slick ball-handler, however, and a tendency in early games this year has been committing turnovers bringing the ball upcourt.
* Simi Valley--The Pioneers won the past 3 league titles, but with a new coach and an entire new lineup, guarantees have expired. Junior Steve Carnes, a tremendous leaper who can play point guard or forward, is the only experienced player. "He knows he'll be the guy we're looking to during crunch time," said Coach Dean Bradshaw, who replaces Bob Hawking after 7 seasons as junior varsity coach.
Seniors Jeff Marciano, a guard, and Dennis Cook, a forward, were Bradshaw's best players on the junior varsity. They must step into productive roles this season for the Pioneers to fulfill their slogan for the season: "One more for four."
* Camarillo--There is no nepotism involved in Coach John Harbour elevating his sophomore son, David, to the starting lineup. In the Scorpions' first 2 games--both victories--David Harbour scored 22 and 29 points.
Senior Ed Lane (6-7), who averaged 6.5 rebounds last season, is the lone experienced front-line player. Scott Foster, Frank Dews and Lloyd Johnson are vying at the forward positions. Senior Wes Nathaniel--the quarterback on the football team--Jeff Castellanos and Rick Schnell complement Harbour at guard.
* Thousand Oaks--John Bushart, a rangy 6-4 senior center, has played well in early outings. Bushart and point guard John Peterson are the only returning starters from a team that qualified for the playoffs despite posting an 8-13 overall record last season.
Todd Anderson and Darren McMaster join Peterson to give Thousand Oaks the potential for a balanced offense. Mike Sandlin and Chris Lenehan should help Bushart on the boards.
* Royal--The Highlanders could live or die on the fortunes of long-range shooting specialist J. P. Ouellette, who made 56 3-point shots last season.
Ouellette's supporting cast includes juniors Russell Myers, a returning starter at forward, and point guard Greg Laranjo, who is making the jump from the sophomore team.
* Channel Islands--After a 3-year hiatus, veteran coach Don Salado returns. However, he has only one veteran of varsity play--point guard Jerry Santiago.
Six members of the Channel Islands' football team also play basketball, so the Raiders should be physical enough. Expect them to run and press behind the play of Santiago, Jerry Williams, Mike King, Paul Estrada, Henry Joe and Russell Edwards.