Forgive me for doing something very foolish. I'm going to make a prediction on the top high school boys' basketball teams for 2010-11 before the travel-ball season has begun, meaning there are lots of transfers that will take place before the new school year begins.
So barring someone 6-foot-10 arriving from Mississippi or a couple players from Lancaster moving to Orange County, here are the teams to beat:
Long Beach Poly. With two guards, a forward and a center returning from a 28-5 team, the Jackrabbits start out as the No. 1 team in California. The 6-7 Ryan Anderson is coming into his own, and 6-6 freshman Roschon Prince only needs to work on his free-throw shooting to become a complete player.
Woodland Hills Taft. Kevin Johnson, a 6-10 transfer from Gardena Serra, sat out this season, and early reports are he's ready to become the best center in the City Section. Taft's talented guards, Spencer Dinwiddie and Landon Drew, should gain a boost in confidence and step up their game.
Corona Centennial. Does everyone realize how good 6-4 junior Dominique Dunning is? He can play guard, center or forward. He can dribble, shoot, play defense, even twirl a basketball on his finger. If he didn't have to sleep, he'd be shooting in the gym day and night. And this team also returns USC-bound Gelaun Wheelwright and point guard Michael Caffey.
Etiwanda. Let's see which coaches raise their hands and volunteer to face the Eagles and their suffocating man-to-man defense. The 6-5 Byron Wesley is back, and Coach Dave Kleckner is plotting another trip to the Southern Section 1AA final, where maybe he'll get an official to call a foul in the last second this time.
Los Angeles Price. Norvel Pelle, a 6-9 transfer from Compton Dominguez, sat out this season. He'll join 6-7 Skylar Spencer and improving guards Askia Booker, Kenny Green and Jamie Trujeque. Will a seventh state championship banner fit in the Price gym?
La Verne Lutheran. Remember the days when North Hollywood Campbell Hall, led by Jrue Holiday, was a state powerhouse? The Trojans are the new small schools team to beat, with so many top young players that their athletic department budget should benefit from all the college recruiters paying admission fees to see them play.
The real Kareem
Guard Kareem Jamar of Westchester is the real deal. He's going to be a terrific college player. He has committed to Montana, but there should be Pacific 10 Conference schools after him. He had 16 points in the Comets' 63-56 win over Newark Memorial on Saturday night in the state Division I final. He showed he can shoot threes in an arena setting, play defense and lead.
The newest pitching star
The last time center fielder Cory Hahn of Santa Ana Mater Dei was in the spotlight, he hit a grand slam off first-round draft pick Matt Hobgood of Norco on a 3-and-2 count last May in the Southern Section playoffs to hand Hobgood his only defeat.
Now, he has become a pitcher and resurrected Mater Dei's season. He's 4-0, with victories over Orange Lutheran and San Juan Capistrano JSerra. He hadn't pitched in high school until this season.
"He's very effective," Coach Burt Call said. "We've always known he wanted to pitch. At the end of last season, he came to us and said he'd like to pitch. I'm not surprised, but he's performing beyond some of the expectations."
Hahn, who signed with Arizona State, said, "I'm having a great time."
Outfielder Michael Bratt of Valencia quit baseball at beginning of his junior year, came back to play junior varsity. Now he's 14 for 20 on varsity in his senior year. That's a comeback player to admire.