Citrus Hill's Rounds climbing up charts

Anthony Rounds was born in the I.E., but moved to the Midwest and elsewhere before returning to SoCal. Citrus Hill HS

PERRIS -- Chances are not many Southland prep basketball followers have heard of Anthony Rounds. The senior from Citrus Hill, after all, has not been considered a household name in prep circles.

His days of being a relative unknown on the local landscape, however, appear to be coming to an end. Rounds has developed into a legitimate prospect and the Hawks figure to be a dangerous opponent in CIF-Southern Section postseason play next week as a result.

“Anyone familiar with our program knows that everything runs through Anthony; he's proven capable of shouldering the heavy burden,'' Citrus Hill coach Tim Hatch said. “It's one of those good news and bad news deals. He's not on many people's radar, but once they see him play, the perception about him changes. It's happened more times than I count, actually.''

His numbers this season are comparable to those of his much more well-known counterparts from the greater Los Angeles area. At 6 feet 7, 210-plus pounds, Rounds averaged 18 points, 12 rebounds and nearly three blocks per game in the regular season. Capable of playing in the post or on the wing, he's also contributed close to a pair of assists and steals per night.

Nevertheless, higher-profile peers such as Santa Ana Mater Dei's Katin Reinhardt and Xavier Johnson typically receive most of the recognition. The same thing can be said about Woodland Hills Taft's Anthony January and Los Angeles Windward's Nick Stover. Rightfully so considering each individual is worthy of such praise given their respective bodies of work.

“Lack of attention always makes me work harder, I don't mind, that stuff doesn't bother me, it keeps me motivated,'' Rounds said. “When people don't talk about me, it just makes me hungry to succeed, to go out and prove everyone wrong. I can play with the best. I think that I have been sneaking up on some people for while. I feel like I'm ready to finally breakout.''

Behind Rounds, the Hawks (15-10 overall) won a share of the Mountain Pass League title and signs point to them being prepared for the Division 3-AAA playoffs. If Citrus Hill manages a way to find some success in the first couple of rounds and makes a run toward quarterfinals or semifinals, several interesting showdowns could end up materializing for Rounds.

No. 18 in the ESPNLosAngeles.com rankings, Chris Reyes and La Verne Damien appear poised to secure a top seeding when the brackets are announced Sunday afternoon. ESPN Recruiting ranks Reyes as the Southland's No. 8 prospect. Rounds would likely have his hands full in a one-on-one matchup with the 6-6 and 200-pound senior and St. Mary's commit.

Another measuring stick for Rounds could be a potential postseason encounter with Pasadena and its budding star, Brandon Jolley. The 6-5, 220-pound wing has a game similar to Rounds. If their paths cross, the battle promises to be a rather entertaining affair.

Palm Springs and Palm Desert also loom as threats to Rounds & Co.

“Anthony is a leader for us, he brings out the best in all of his teammates, our chemistry is because of all the things he does out on the court,'' said teammate Ralph Myles, second on Hawks in scoring with 13.2 points per game. “He does a lot, scoring, rebounding, blocks, you name it, he can do it all. When he is on his game, we're tough to beat. His time is coming.''

To gain a better understanding of the direction Rounds is heading -- playing at the next level appears to be a distinct possibility -- perhaps it's best to look at his journey.

He was born and raised in the Inland Empire. A move to the Midwest to be closer to family was next for Rounds. A stint playing ball in Georgia during his freshman and sophomore seasons followed before an eventual return to his old stomping grounds.

He landed at Citrus Hill last season and made an immediate impact. Rounds joined the starting lineup on a senior-laden team and finished his junior season with more than respectable averages of 19 points and 10 rebounds per game. Not a bad first impression, by most standards.

Accordingly, Rounds drew the attention of college coaches and scouts, who have kept a close eye on his development. He has been contacted by programs in the Big West and West Coast Conferences but has no scholarship offers yet.

“Some college is going to land a stud once he signs with a school,'' Hatch said. “The thing you have to remember about Anthony is, he has become a marked man of sorts. Teams are focused on stopping in him, but that hasn't hurt his game. It's made him more well-rounded. We have multiple recruiters at most of our games. His days of playing basketball are just beginning.''

In the meantime, Rounds goes about his business quietly.

No sense in changing the all-important game-plan. It has worked out well thus far. Rounds has taken care of business on the court. And things have started to follow suit off the court with regard to his future. His name is no longer considered as a mere afterthought.

“If I'm mentioned in the same sentence with some of the best players in Southern California and the state, I think that's great. If not, that's fine too,'' Rounds said. “I know what I'm capable of doing and others are starting to finally see that kind of stuff. The hype is cool, I'm not going to lie, but it's not most important. My focus is taking care of the things I can control.''

Sean Ceglinsky covers preps for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.