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Spring Signing Season Finds Top Basketball Players Locked Up Long Ago


Scott McCorkle spent Wednesday at the beach. Bill Martineau played some pickup basketball. Robert Conlisk hung out by the pool at a friend's house.

In fact, all of Orange County's top high school boys' basketball players who are seniors relaxed Wednesday, the first day of spring signing period. Once one of the busiest times of the year for high school basketball players, the first day of signing in the spring has become less significant since the early signing period was established in 1984.

The trend in recent years has been for players to sign earlier and avoid the recruiting crush.

"Was today the first day of signings? I didn't even know," said Conlisk, a 6-foot-11 center from Los Alamitos High School. "I'm glad I got it over with early, otherwise the last few weeks would have been really difficult."

The top four Orange County seniors signed letters of intent in November, including McCorkle (Capistrano Valley), Martineau (Edison), Conlisk (Los Alamitos) and Keith Walker (Brea-Olinda). Martineau signed with UC Santa Barbara, McCorkle with Syracuse, Walker with California and Conlisk with Arizona State.

"I wanted to take it easy during my senior year," Martineau said. "I didn't want to have to deal with recruiters during the season."

Said Conslisk: "When I was a junior, they were always coming to my games. I didn't even have to see them in the stands, I knew they were there. It was really a pressure situation."

Conlisk said he was able to enjoy his senior season and be more productive. He averaged 17.9 points a game and led the Griffins to the Empire League championship.

Walker, a 6-5 guard, led Orange County in scoring, averaging 32.6 points. McCorkle, a 6-5 forward, led the Cougars to the Southern Section 5-A title as a junior and averaged 24.4 points last season. Martineau, a 6-10 center, averaged 14 points.

Other top players who signed during the early signing period Nov. 8-15 were El Toro's Greg Everett (Creighton), Ocean View's Greg Evans (Loyola Marymount) and Mater Dei's Andy Karich (Santa Clara).

Conlisk said he received phone calls from several schools before the early signing period.

"Some would even call at 11 p.m., some would call at 7:30 a.m.," Conlisk said. "It got very hectic. Sometimes they would come to school, then call my house and say, 'I was in the neighborhood and thought I'd drop by.' I couldn't imagine going through that and try to play basketball this year."

The early signing period has changed the approach to recruiting basketball players.

"Coaches used to get a lot more time off in the summer," UC Irvine Coach Bill Mulligan said. "Now you have to go out and hustle kids like crazy. If you get a kid in November, then it's fine. If you don't, you have to go back and hustle more kids. My feeling is, if we get a good player early, then it's a damn good rule."

Injuries also were a consideration for some of the players who signed early. Martineau was coming off a back injury and said he was worried that another injury would hurt his chances for a scholarship.

"There were already some schools that lost interest after I hurt my back during the summer," said Martineau, who had strained muscles during a summer league game. "I didn't want to take the chance of not having anything for next year."

Of the 10 players on The Times' All-Orange County team, eight were seniors. Five of the eight--Conlisk, Karich, Martineau, McCorkle and Walker--received scholarships to NCAA Division I schools.

Of the remaining first-team players, two will play at community colleges next season. Sam Sabbara, a 6-1 point-guard from Western, said he will play at Cypress College and Agustin Heredia, a 5-10 guard from Estancia, said he will play a community college, but has not decided which one.

Charles Andres, a 6-7 forward from Mater Dei, said he will not play basketball next season.

Others who still being recruited include Beau Hossler and Randy Kriech, both of Trabuco Hills.

Hossler, a 6-2 guard, will visit to Boise State and Montana. Kriech, a 6-1 guard, has offers from Southern California College, Ft. Lewis College in Colorado and Humbolt State.

Some of the top girls' players also committed early, including Amy Jalewalia of La Quinta, Aimee McDaniel of Brea-Olinda and Tammy Blackburn of Brea-Olinda. Jalewalia, a 6-1 forward, signed with UCLA; McDaniel, a 5-6 guard, signed with Pepperdine; Blackburn, a 5-8 guard, signed with San Diego State.

"It's tough going through the whole recruiting process," said Jalewalia, who led the county in scoring. "It's better to get it out of the way and relax."

Of the 10 seniors on The Times' girls' all-county team, four signed early. Besides Jalewalia, McDaniel and Blackburn, Melisa Sortino of Marina signed with the University of San Diego.

Sara Bone of El Toro committed to Dartmouth in November. Jennifer Rohrig of Mission Viejo signed to play volleyball at Duke.

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