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Farmar Is Becoming Quite the Letterman

September 09, 2002|Eric Sondheimer

Jordan Farmar never knew that mail was delivered on Sunday.

"I thought it's a day off," he said.

Weeks ago, he started receiving letters by overnight delivery on Sunday from college basketball coaches determined to make an impression on the 15-year-old point guard from Woodland Hills Taft High.

It's an indication how much Farmar's life has changed in a matter of months.

When the summer began, he wasn't getting letters and coaches such as Lute Olson of Arizona, Rick Majerus of Utah and Mike Montgomery of Stanford had never heard of him. Now, he averages close to 100 letters a week and has been identified as one of the top junior guards on the West Coast.

Perhaps no athlete in Southern California improved more during the crucial summer training period than the 6-foot-2 Farmar, who has a 37-inch vertical jump and makes three-point shots look as easy as layups.

As a sophomore, he didn't make all-league. He played for only one month at Lake Balboa Birmingham.

Despite averaging 21 points, he was removed from the team in early January by Coach Al Bennett, who objected to Farmar's decision to transfer to Taft at the semester break.

Farmar, who has a 3.4 grade-point average, said his mother wanted him to change schools for academic reasons.

While others were playing, Farmar practiced on his own. He made a prominent travel team this summer and gained immediate recognition for his guard skills.

Former Taft coach Jim Woodard, who will serve as an assistant this season, saw Farmar for the first time during a practice. "I walked in the gym and asked, 'My God, who's that guy?' " he said. "He's a tremendous player."

Farmar started to understand the progress he was making during a game in Las Vegas. He looked up in the bleachers and saw Stanford's Montgomery scouting him.

"That made me realize it's happening," he said. "It was shocking. It was flattering that people would be there just to see me, and it was an opportunity to show what I could do."

Farmar is convinced he has a future in basketball.

"This is my calling," he said.

Here are other athletes who made impressive summer improvement:

* Sean Marshall, Rialto Eisenhower: A 6-6 senior, he practiced almost every day at a park or gym, shooting jump shot after jump shot. His improvement was dramatic.

"I moved my game from being a small forward to a shooting guard," he said.

Schools such as Boston College, Utah, Colorado, Oregon State and Washington have started recruiting Marshall.

* Ekene Ibekwe, Carson: Already highly regarded when the summer began, the 6-9 Ibekwe enhanced his reputation with strong performances against top competition. He displayed a level of consistency not present during the regular season and became an elite college prospect. Maryland, Arizona, Kansas and USC are pursuing him.

* Megan Merritt, Woodland Hills Louisville: All the top women's soccer programs know about Merritt after she helped the West Valley Samba win the under-16 national championship. Only a junior, she earned respect for her ability to head the ball and play tough defense.

* Nathan Longshore, Canyon Country

Canyon: Despite having played only one season of football, this 6-4 junior quarterback stood out in summer passing tournaments because of his arm strength and leadership skills. At a time when the quarterback position in the Southland is lacking in quality college prospects, Longshore put himself in position to be recruited.

* Kyle Gunther, Camarillo: In this era of chat rooms and instant messaging, Gunther is a big beneficiary. Word spread quickly about the positive impression the 6-4, 275-pound offensive lineman made at summer camps. Most important is his increased strength and size.

* Steve Klosterman, Huntington Beach Marina: He was most valuable player at the USA Junior Olympics Volleyball championships after leading his club team to the 18-under national championship. He is rated by many as the nation's No. 1 senior college prospect.

* Scott Cohen, Sylmar: Cohen is outgrowing clothes so quickly that his father, Bob, doesn't need to shop anymore. "I'm wearing his stuff now," Bob said. Last season, Scott was a 5-10, 135-pound sophomore second baseman. He has grown to 6-2, 160 pounds. He has continued steady development as a hitter and fielder.

* Jason Cable, Palmdale: The left-hander with an exceptional curveball earned a spot in the Area Code Games, proved he can silence hitters outside the Golden League, and accepted a scholarship to Cal State Northridge.

Eric Sondheimer can be reached at

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