Whenever a freshman is deemed good enough to play varsity basketball, it creates excitement and intrigue.
That's what is happening at Orange Lutheran, where after one week of practice, it's clear that 6-foot-2 freshman Gabe York is going to be an impact player.
"He can do it all," Coach Chris Nordstrom said.
He was the Lancers' second-leading scorer in the handful of games he played during the summer, and he seems to be fitting in well with the older players.
"I'm not trying to take the spotlight from anybody," he said. "I feel good coming in and helping the team and making sure I don't overdo my role."
Orange Lutheran figures to be the main challenger to Santa Ana Mater Dei in the Trinity League, which means if the Lancers get within 10 points, they're doing well. But York has got the feisty, fearless attitude of a promising 15-year-old.
"I'm really excited to play them," he said.
Sky's the limit
for Mater Dei
One big question for this basketball season that begins next week is, how high a scoring average will it take to satisfy the all-star players at Mater Dei? The Monarchs have two players going to North Carolina, one to UCLA, another to USC and another to Stanford. All of them would like to make the McDonald's All-American game.
Is one basketball enough?
"We're all friends on and off the court, and we're not selfish players," 6-10 Travis Wear said. "Everybody knows at any other high school, we could average 20 to 25 points a game. We chose to play around kids who are going to be at the Division I level, and it will help us mature."
This season, Mater Dei moves to Division I for the state playoffs, setting up the possibility of games against City Section powers Los Angeles Fairfax, Westchester and Woodland Hills Taft.
The Division I Southern California Regionals could boast so many top teams that the CIF should consider holding several games at one site. Who wouldn't want to see a doubleheader or tripleheader matching Mater Dei against Fairfax, Riverside King against Taft, Etiwanda against Westchester or Compton Dominguez against Fremont?
"We are very excited to play against the best competition," Wear said.
Some big plans at Windward
Los Angeles Windward is embarking on an ambitious schedule trying to emulate North Hollywood Campbell Hall and become a small schools powerhouse.
With 6-4 Darius Morris headed to Michigan, 6-10 Anthony Stover having signed with UCLA and the development of 6-5 sophomore Wesley Saunders, Windward Coach Miguel Villegas has entered his team in the Westchester tournament.
Windward opens with Inglewood Morningside on Dec. 2, then could play the host Comets on Dec. 4. Taft, Dominguez and Torrance Bishop Montgomery are also entered in the best early-season tournament in the Southland.
"There's no question in my mind we have the talent and capability to compete with those schools," Villegas said.
He also has a three-year starter back at guard in Malcolm Washington, son of actor Denzel Washington.
Westchester Coach Ed Azzam will gladly tell one of his half-dozen assistant coaches to give up a courtside seat so that Denzel can feel as comfortable as he would attending a Lakers game.
Fremont making the grade
Fremont isn't exactly known as an academic oasis, but the basketball program keeps preparing its players for college.
Tony Freeland, a 6-5 forward, is the latest Pathfinder to receive a scholarship. He signed with DePaul. Last season, Laron Armstead signed with Loyola Marymount.
Former Fremont players Jacques Streeter and Mark Hill are at Cal State Fullerton and Cal State Northridge.
Girls teams' have young standouts
The sophomore class for girls' basketball is so good that recruiters from Tennessee, Connecticut and other schools will be trying to swoop in to steal the players away.
A franchise player in the making is 6-foot sophomore guard Kaleena Lewis from Mater Dei.
Then there's 6-2 Justine Hartman from Brea Olinda and 6-2 Bonnie Samuelson from Huntington Beach Edison.