BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -- The Division I matchup always draws most of the attention during the California state championships. However, most pundits agreed the Division III game between Serra (Gardena) and Bishop O'Dowd (Oakland) was the most compelling. Serra squeaked out an overtime thriller 63-59 and it was gut-wrenching from the opening tip to the final buzzer.
Bishop O'Dowd has an imposing front line in senior Jordan Barton and super sophomores Brandon Ashley and Richard Longruss while Serra countered that group with a bevy of talented guards -- most notably Keith Shamburger and Vaughn Autry. In the end, it was Serra's suffocating pressure that unraveled O'Dowd, which committed 29 turnovers in the loss. (For a complete list of results see the bottom of the page.)
Richard Solomon PF (6-9, 190)
2010, Los Angeles/Price, signed with Cal
Solomon's one-handed alley-oop dunk was as impressive as it gets on this level. His slight frame will need to fill out to do battle in the Pac-10, but he is easily one of the most improved prospects on the West Coast.
Allen Crabbe SG (6-6, 190)
2010, Los Angeles/Price, signed with Cal
The Cal-bound wing has a smooth stroke and plays with an even keel at all times. Although he gets scrutinized for not playing hard all the time, he is one of the most underrated rebounders for his size in the West.
Norman Powell SF (6-4, 180)
2011, San Diego, Calif./Lincoln
Powell, who is similar to Long Beach State recruit Shelton Boykin, plays the game at a relentless pace. He can guard all three perimeter positions and may be the bounciest prospect in the west for his class.
Brandon Ashley PF (6-7, 210)
2012, Oakland, Calif./ Bishop 0'Dowd
At this juncture, Ashley is without a doubt the No. 1 prospect in California for his class -- and he may surpass Shabazz Muhammad as the best in the West by the time he is a senior. He is an extremely gifted 4-man with remarkable hands, long arms, and advanced moves within 15-feet of the basket.
Kareem Jamar SF (6-5, 185)
2010, Los Angeles/Westchester, signed with Montana
After a subpar performance against Mater Dei last week, during which he was 0-for-8 from the 3-point stripe, Jamar was the Comets best player in this one. He played his usual all-around game (16-points and 4 rebounds) at both ends of the floor exhibiting, yet again, that Montana is getting a steal.
Victor Dean F (6-6, 200)
2010, San Diego/Lincoln
Dean is a Fresno State signee for football, but he definitely has the talent to easily snag one of those roster spots on the basketball team. He is a high-major athlete with a solid skill set, including a better-than-average midrange jump shot.
Prospects to watch
Skylar Spencer C (6-7,200)
2012, Los Angeles/Price
Despite his raw offensive game, his length and bouncy nature will warrant high-major interest. He may be the No. 1 shot blocker out west and he's a menace on the boards to boot.
Tyree Robinson G (6-3, 185)
2013, San Diego, Calif./ Lincoln
He needs to work on his fundamentals (his jump stop would be a start), but he can get to the rim, knock down the midrange pull-up, or find an open teammate -- not bad considering he still has 3 more years of high school basketball.
• Branson did a good job denying the ball to 6-8 super-soph Grant Jerrett (La Verne, Calif./ Lutheran). He managed to display impressive foot work and adept passing ability.
• Tyler Johnson, a 6-2 Fresno State signee out of Mountain View, Calif./St. Francis, is a solid looking point guard prospect, but he needs to get much more confident with his jump shot to keep defenses from crowding his driving game.
• Serra (Gardena, Calif.) won the Division III crown on a balanced attack from a well-publicized stacked backcourt (Keith Shamburger, Vaughn Autry, Craig Carter, Steven Archibald, and Marqise Lee). Each of them nailed big shots and played stifling defense throughout the contest.
• Ashley gets most of the notoriety, but fellow sophomore 6-5 Richard Longruss (Bishop O'Dowd) made his presence felt with his defense, rebounding, and solid ball handling.
• His skills are still developing, but 6-7 Dwayne Polee Jr. (Westchester) is as athletic a prospect that I've seen in my 20 years of scouting. He may not be able to score at a high rate at the next level, but he'll get a number of block shots and he'll be a chore to stop in transition.
CIF State Championship results
Division I: Westchester (Los Angeles) 63 Newark Memorial 56
Division II: Lincoln (San Diego) 74 St. Francis (Mtn. View) 59
Division III: Serra 63, Bishop O'Dowd 59
Division IV: Price (Los Angeles) 69, St. Mary's (Berkeley) 51
Division V: Lutheran (La Verne) 35, Branson (Ross) 32