HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. -- Los Angeles may only have one year to enjoy O.J. Mayo and Kevin Love at the college level. On Thursday night, there was a preview of what the sequel looks likes. Those close to the UCLA and Southern Cal basketball programs have to like what is coming to town.
UCLA commitment Jrue Holiday and Southern Cal bound Demar DeRozan paired up in one of the best individual match-ups high school basketball will see until the McDonald's All-American game in the spring.
Holiday, the nation's number three ranked player, and DeRozan, the second best player nationally in the class of 2008, paired up in the first round of the Ocean View Tournament of Champions. Holiday paced his Campbell Hall to an 84-70 victory and certainly earned any sort of bragging rights with his performance.
Holiday scored 32 points on 12 of 20 shooting from the floor and a perfect six for six from the foul line. Holiday was equally as impressive on the boards, as he collected 13 rebounds in the match-up.
DeRozan scored 29 points on nine of 28 shooting from the floor. He also converted 10 of 13 from the foul line. The five-star wing grabbed eight rebounds.
Historically, a match-up like Thursday's rarely, if ever, happens at the high school level. In the history of Rivals.com, there has never been a match-up of players ranked within the top three from the same city going to rival colleges.
The pairing was the closest UCLA-USC high school rivalry since Gabe Pruitt and Jordan Farmar or Harold Minor and Tracy Murray. Neither of them ever played against each other at the high school level.
Not even Love and Mayo, when they were paired against each other on the travel ball circuit, were nationally-ranked as high as DeRozan and Holiday were on Thursday at the same time.
Holiday says there isn't a rivalry between him and DeRozan. The future Bruin is a competitor but he's a cool customer. Always has been, always will be. Rivalries, he says, are just for fun and don't matter at the high school level.
"It wasn't me versus him. It was Campbell Hall against Compton," Holiday said. "And we have a much better team.
"Until UCLA plays USC, (a rivalry) doesn't (matter). This is high school and we are trying to have fun and trying to win state…College is totally different level. In college, it will be a rivalry. Right now it isn't serious. It is playful. College it will be playful until we get out on the court."
Throughout the first half, the Southern California community of high school basketball mavens all argued about who is a better player. By the end of the third quarter, the consensus was that Holiday was on this night.
Holiday's basketball IQ, tenacity on defense and extra gear shined through during a four minute stretch in the third quarter that saw the game break open and Campbell Hall never looked back.
DeRozan struggled with his shot and never seemed to find a flow in Compton's offense, one that was described by a courtside observer as "an adventure on every possession." Holiday, on the other hand, brought all of the tricks of his trade in this game.
Campbell Hall head coach Terry Kelly said he had an idea on Wednesday at practice that Holiday, a poker faced player on the court in his upperclassmen years, had something special up his sleeve.
"He just smiled," Kelly said. "That is when I knew he was ready. There isn't another kid in the country that I would go to war with more than him. I'll go to any battle with him on my side…There is no doubt in my mind that he is the best player in the country. He plays as hard on both sides of the court than anyone out there."
It appears as if the Bruins are winning the bragging rights battle after Holiday's memorable performance.
Other notables from Thursday
Holiday didn't do it all on his own on Thursday night. He had key contributions from junior wing Keegan Hornbuckle. The 6-foot-6 forward has been battling a case of food poisoning all week but didn't show it in the first half as he scored all of his 15 points in the first 16 minutes of play.
He looked a lot like a young Chandler Parsons, a freshman at Florida, with his good length and long range on the perimeter. The junior had three three-pointers and a couple of scores inside the paint.
Hornbuckle, a tremendous student off the floor, said he has heard from SMU, Penn, Northwestern, Pepperdine, Santa Clara, Arizona State, Washington State and UCLA early in the recruiting process.
Oscar Bellfield, an unsigned combo guard from Westchester High School, had his best game of the tournament in a 74-66 win over JSerra. The 6-1 guard scored 14 points and handed out six assists in the victory. He did a fine job of pacing his club in a tight club and found his scorers in rhythm.
Bellfield found SMU bound Jared Dubois, who scored 16 points in the win, for key buckets in a competitive fourth quarter. Dubois, a 6-foot-2 guard, also had his best game of the event on Thursday night.
Southern Cal bound sophomore Dwayne Polee showed more facets of his game in the victory. He scored a team high 19 points, including a handful of impressive jumpers in the mid-range. The 6-foot-7 wing forward has the tools to be a great one.
JSerra had 26 points from junior wing Demetrius Walker, who shot a perfect nine for nine from the foul line and eight of 15 from the floor. The 6-foot-4 Terrell Owens look-alike is like a jack springing out of it's box when he plays. His energy is a bit wild at times but he's so strong to the basket that he is oftentimes fouled and defenders have a hard time staying in front of him.
For the most part, this was a good game for the youngster. His recruitment has seen an upgrade of interest from Southern Cal while Oregon, Memphis, Florida, Villanova and others are interested.
Teammate Chris Gabriel, a New Mexico State signee, looked very impressive in the defeat. The 6-foot-10 center scored 17 points and array of moves in the paint, including a good-looking turnaround hook shot. Gabriel used his size to clean out room for rebounds (he had 11 in the defeat) and blocked four shots. It was the best game we've ever seen from him.
News & Notes
DeAndre Matlock, a 6-foot-11 junior from Clovis West High School, has been an eye-catcher. The skinny center is a raw prospect and it will be interested to see where he is at in terms of his progression is at in the spring and summer. He runs the floor well for a player at his position and has a decent touch at the basket. Matlock is a solid mid-major at this stage of the game.
As good as Keion Bell was on Thursday, the unsigned senior guard from Pasadena was disappointing on Thursday. The 6-foot-3 athletic guard scored just eight points and struggled with turnovers in a loss to Clovis West.
All eyes on us
Southern Cal head coach Tim Floyd and assistant Bob Cantu were on hand for the Campbell Hall-Compton game. Assistant coaches from New Mexico State, Arizona State, Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara were also on hand.