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VARSITY TIMES

Point guard answers Army's call

May 28, 2008|Eric Sondheimer

When point guard Jason Pancoe of state Division III champion Santa Margarita told friends earlier this month that he had accepted an offer to play basketball for Army, it produced a range of reactions.

"That's incredible," one said.

"You better start doing push-ups," said another.

And still another said, "Are you crazy?"

In a time of war, Pancoe has put himself potentially in harm's way, and it took him a month of soul-searching to make his life-changing decision.

"It's a little daunting, but if you're going to go to West Point, you're going to be given the opportunity to defend your country, which I think is an incredible honor," he said.

In September, he will attend Salisbury School in Connecticut, which he said is "straight out of 'Dead Poets Society,' " a 1989 movie about students at an East Coast prep school. He'll play basketball, attend classes, then enroll as a freshman cadet at West Point in the summer of 2009.

It will be his chance to play NCAA Division I basketball, like his former Santa Margarita teammates Klay Thompson (Washington State) and Jaime Serna (UC Santa Barbara). The big difference, though, is that the 6-foot-3 Pancoe will have a five-year military commitment after he graduates in 2013.

"After I went out there seeing how beautiful the school is and getting input from people who have gone through it and the opportunity to set yourself up for the rest of your life, I couldn't say no," he said.

Added Coach Jerry DeBusk: "He has what it takes to be a cadet."

Pancoe was Santa Margarita's team captain and clutch three-point shooter. He has a 3.9 grade-point average and was preparing to walk on at Santa Barbara until Army coaches made him the offer.

Getting teenagers to plan ahead for next week, let alone next year or next decade isn't easy, but that's what this 18-year-old has done. Soon, he'll be a second lieutenant in the making, along with having a nasty baseline jump shot.

"I'm ready to grow up," he said. "I'm ready to move on."

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Just call quarterback Richard Brehaut of Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos the "Chosen One." That's because after weeks of evaluation, UCLA finally made him a scholarship offer and he accepted last weekend. It came after offensive coordinator Norm Chow paid him a visit on Wednesday, the same day Chow scouted Upland's Josh Nunes. Bruins Coach Rick Neuheisel gave final approval after seeing Brehaut at a passing event over the weekend.

Brehaut and Nunes are terrific players, great students and top citizens.

Quarterback guru Steve Clarkson said he expects both to be successful Division I quarterbacks.

As for the 6-3 Brehaut, Clarkson said, "He's very mobile, very accurate and throws a great spiral."

UCLA took its time in making its decision after losing out on Santa Ana Mater Dei's Matt Barkley to USC. But when Chow gives an endorsement, it means plenty, and Brehaut said, "I was so fired up. It's an unbelievable dream come true for me. I grew up loving UCLA."

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Saturday's noon City Championship baseball game at Dodger Stadium marks the 40th anniversary since the first City final was played at Dodger Stadium in 1969, when Birmingham beat Monroe, 1-0.

"It was a wonderful experience," said former Birmingham Coach Hy Cohen, who is retired and living in Palm Desert.

Thanks to the support of former Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley and his successors, every year since a group of grateful City Section players and coaches have been given the opportunity to live out a magical moment at Dodger Stadium.

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When it comes to seasons to remember, junior first baseman-pitcher Matt Hobgood of Norco is setting a standard that will be hard to duplicate. As a hitter, he has 15 home runs and a .471 batting average. As a pitcher, the 6-4, 245-pound Hopgood is 10-0 and defeated Orange Lutheran and ace pitcher Gerrit Cole, 1-0, in a Southern Section Division I quarterfinal game last week. He has committed to Cal State Fullerton.

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There was lots of preseason hype about freshman shortstop Christian Lopes of Valencia, and what's impressive is that he has lived up to every bit of it.

Lopes finished with 10 home runs. It wouldn't be surprising to see him challenge the state career home-run record of 52 set last year by Chatsworth's Mike Moustakas, according to CalHiSports.com.

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The NBA rule that requires high school players to spend at least one year in college is helping to create last-minute scholarship opportunities for late-blooming high school players as college teams scramble to replace those who leave early for the draft.

Brea Olinda guard Kyle Fogg signed this month with Arizona. He didn't have any scholarship offers midway through his senior year.

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There's an unfortunate situation brewing between All-City guard Jarred Dubois of Westchester and Southern Methodist. He signed with the Mustangs last November but he has since asked for his release. SMU has refused, and Dubois is now appealing to the National Letter of Intent office.

SMU is foolish trying to force attendance by a student who doesn't want to be there. Just wait until Coach Matt Doherty comes back to Southern California looking for another recruit.

Dubois, however, isn't without fault. He should have done a better job evaluating his situation before signing.

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eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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