Sun Valley Village Christian's Marquis Salmon had 19 points in a 58-57… (Jim Floyd / PBF Photo )
Few players have benefited more from the state basketball playoffs than Marquis Salmon, a 6-foot-7 senior at Sun Valley Village Christian. When the Crusaders' season was extended by an at-large berth to the Division V playoffs, Salmon got a second chance to impress college recruiters.
"He's been phenomenal these last four weeks," Coach Jon Shaw said. "He's impacted the team at both ends of the floor."
In a Southern California Regional semifinal upset, the Crusaders knocked off top-seeded Playa del Rey St. Bernard, 75-65, behind Salmon's 29 points. In the regional final against La Canada Renaissance, Salmon had 19 points in a 58-57 victory. Village Christian, a 60-year-old school, will be play Alameda St. Joseph Notre Dame on Saturday in its first state championship game at Power Balance Pavilion in Sacramento.
"I knew the farther we got into the playoffs, it would benefit Marquis most from an individual standpoint," Shaw said. "This is prime time to recruit. He's earned his scholarship."
Salmon's performances have helped him pick up scholarship offers from Seattle University and the University of Denver. Fresno State and Sacramento State are also in the mix. And Shaw said, "By the time he gets done Saturday, I won't be surprised if he has 10 scholarship offers."
Said Salmon: "It's playoff time. It's win or go home We have to go hard every second of every game."
Salmon came to Village Christian as a sophomore after spending his freshman year living in Saudi Arabia, where his mother worked as a college professor. Because women are not treated the same as men, Salmon had to take on additional responsibilities as a 14-year-old, including driving to get groceries. He didn't play basketball except for pickup games.
He was Village Christian's top player last season, but he has become more effective this season with the help of sophomores Bryan Alberts and Marsalis Johnson, who came from Chatsworth Sierra Canyon. He's averaging 18 points and 12 rebounds.
"He's rebounding incredibly well," Shaw said. "His overall confidence has grown leaps and bounds."
Now, the team gets a road trip to Sacramento. But Salmon won't be driving. He doesn't have a California driver's license. But he'll do his driving on the court.
The Price is right
Another player making the best of the state tournament to impress college recruiters is 6-7 senior Khalil Johnson of Los Angeles Price. He's starting to receive interest from Pac-12 schools.
He had 26 points in Price's Division IV Southern California Regional final against Gardena Serra.