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Just Preps | THE PREPS / ERIC SHEPARD

It's Elementary Even Though It's High School

May 16, 1996|ERIC SHEPARD

Corey Benjamin, The Times' boys' basketball player of the year, held a news conference Sunday to announce his college choice. Appropriately, few attended the event.

The Fontana High senior told a small gathering at the school that he will follow in his older brother's footsteps and accept a scholarship offer to Oregon State. Sonny Benjamin is a senior forward for the Beavers.

Corey, a 6-foot-6 forward/guard, averaged 28 points and 11 rebounds last season and was recruited by such schools as UCLA, Syracuse and Fresno State. But as of Wednesday, he still had not met NCAA academic entrance requirements and will probably sit out next season.

High school news conferences border on the absurd, especially for an athlete who may not compete for at least the next 1 1/2 years.

Fontana Coach Cliff Dodds said the hastily called conference was not a publicity stunt.

"I don't think Corey was seeking any media exposure; he just wanted to get this decision out of the way," Dodds said. "I've been fielding calls every day about where Corey was going to go, and we thought this would be the easiest way to get the word out."

A high school senior has enough time to individually talk to reporters by phone, and, if not, the Oregon State sports information office certainly could have handled the task.

High school sports is out of whack on many fronts, and this is one of them.

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It has been a controversial senior year for basketball standout Jason Hart of Inglewood. The 6-2 point guard's eligibility was twice investigated by Southern Section officials, who suspected he wasn't properly enrolled at the school. The investigations turned up no wrongdoing.

Last week, Hart asked to be released from his scholarship commitment to Syracuse. Sources say he wants to attend UCLA.

Hart signed with Syracuse in November, even though he wasn't academically qualified. He has since achieved a qualifying score on the American College Testing exam, which is why UCLA has shown renewed interest.

Thus far, Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim has rightfully denied Hart's request to be released. Boeheim took a chance on Hart when others wouldn't, and he deserves some loyalty for that.

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West Torrance's Tony Consentino is on schedule to break several batting records by the time he graduates.

The junior catcher, a three-year starter, has 54 hits this season and 143 for his career. The state record is 168 by Jakob Jensen from Northridge Highland Hall from 1988 through '91.

Consentino, who has a batting average of .546 this season, also has 36 doubles in his career, fifth best in state history.

"This is a kid who hasn't missed a game for us since he first stepped on the field as a freshman," West Torrance Coach Harry Jenkins said.

West Torrance plays host to Long Beach Millikan in a Southern Section Division I first-round playoff game Friday at 3:15 p.m.

High School Notes

The City Section boys' volleyball finals will be held Friday night at Occidental College. The Division 3-A match between Marshall and Sylmar begins at 5:30 and the 4-A match between defending champion University and Granada Hills begins at 8. . . . The City Section baseball pairings will be released today, with first-round games scheduled for Tuesday. . . . The Southern Section track and field championships will be held Saturday at Long Beach City College. Titles will be decided in four divisions with the top nine qualifiers overall advancing to the Masters Meet next Friday at Cerritos College. . . . The Southern Section individual golf tournament will be held Monday at the Sandpiper Country Club in Goleta beginning at 7:30 a.m.

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