LONG BEACH, Calif. - He said this is the most important summer of his life so Cezar Guerrero was much more serious, much more focused and much more disciplined in Belmont Shore's blowout victory Tuesday at the Pangos Summer Tip-Off.
Guerrero is one of the nation's best point guards - only Josiah Turner, Anthony Wroten and Jahii Carson are rated higher than him on the West Coast - but after missing his junior season because of transfer rules and last summer with an injury this is Guerrero's time to show off his talents in front of college coaches.
The book on Guerrero, a 6-foot, 175-pounder from Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco, is that he's highly skilled but oftentimes too flashy with the ball, preferring the highlight-reel play instead of the simple pass for an easy basket.
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But that wasn't how Guerrero played Tuesday, nor will it be his style any longer since he's focused on proving to high-profile coaches that he can be their trusted, heady point guard of the future.
There's no taking away some of his flamboyance, that would be unfair to his style of play, but Guerrero has seemingly toned it down and become a more mature point guard. It could help him as his recruitment heats up this month.
Guerrero made fundamental bounce passes when he needed to so teammates could easily score. Gone were the no-look or one-handed passes.
When Guerrero could pull back for a 3-point shot he did but never forced it. When he spotted a crease in the defense he used his speed to dice his way through to the basket but seemed to always know when to slow it down or look for a teammate.
"It's the biggest thing in my life right now," Guerrero said. "It's also the most important. I want to get offers but then again I want to be the best player I can be and show people I can be a great player also.
"(Coaches) are getting a first-time look now that Cezar Guerrero is someone to be reckoned with, that I should be recruited and I just want to prove that to everybody."
The spring AAU circuit helped Guerrero dramatically and he is now receiving interest from St. John's, Western Kentucky, TCU, Miami, Auburn, Oregon State and others. He played well in Las Vegas and North Carolina and multiple times in and around Los Angeles.
Playing with five-star forward and Texas commit DeAndre Daniels, top 2012 prospect Grant Jerrett and others allows Guerrero to create and distribute the ball or shoot open jumpers since opponents have to respect Belmont Shore's frontcourt. Guerrero has little trouble driving past most defenders.
Now he wants to show college coaches what he can do - and they're showing up.
Whether to watch Guerrero or not is hard to tell but Texas Tech coach Pat Knight and assistant coaches from Arizona, Washington, California, Utah and UNLV were hanging around Court 3 for Belmont Shore's game. For someone looking for more interest and offers, it was a welcome sight for Guerrero.
"It's a matter of time until I start getting more (attention)," he said. "It's going to be little by little. I think I proved a little of it in the spring, now I have to prove myself again all over. I didn't play last summer. I'm hungry right now. I'm real hungry and I want to get out there and win championships.
"This spring helped me out dramatically. I got at least eight new schools after me because of the spring. It's amazing. It's just like, wow, I've proved myself. I have to do that more to get more schools. … I'm just waiting. By the end of the summer you'll find out who I'm interested in."
More News & Notes: Four-star small forward Amir Garrett confirmed he'll transfer to Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep from Lawndale (Calif.) Leuzinger.
** Other top performers seen during early Tuesday action included Daniels, Garrett and Jerrett with Belmont Shore and Darius Nelson, Emmanuel Ochenje and 2013 prospect Isaac Hamilton with Team Odom.
** Coaches from Arizona, Washington, Cal, Utah, Texas Tech, UNLV, San Jose State, Cal State-Northridge, San Francisco, UC-Irvine, San Diego, Weber State, San Diego State, Santa Clara, Montana, Boise State and Cal Poly were seen in the stands.