HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. -- Two of the best seniors in the Ocean View Tournament of Champions traded buckets on Wednesday night and put a stamp on the event in dramatic fashion.
The tournament had been looking for its signature game all week and got it on Wednesday night as Santa Margarita and Pasadena traded buckets for three quarters of the game.
Santa Margarita came out swinging, going on an 11-0 run to start the game and was on the path to blowout status right out of the gates. However, Pasadena not only responded, the team came back with a dramatic 28-14 run of its own.
The game came down to a last second shot and Santa Margarita held on for a tremendous 63-60 win.
There were a lot of revelations in this game. For starters, Klay Thompson isn't just good. He's really good and he is getting better and better. Every year there are a handful of players that seem to enter the college level on the up swing. Thompson is looking like one of those guys.
He has grown an inch since the summer's end and his game is starting to show more and more facets to it. The most impressive thing about his game on Wednesday night was his pull-up jumper from behind the arc. Thompson shot five of nine from deep. He stopped and popped three times and scored in the clutch. He was confident and collected down the stretch and set the emotional tone for his team as the game was on the wire.
Thompson scored 38 points (13-19 FG, 7-8 FT) and never once took a bad shot or seemed rattled by the intensity of a close game. He scored off the bounce, in rhythm, in traffic and in the clutch. Washington State not only has a sleeper in terms of a national ranking standpoint, Thompson could potentially be a player that continues his overall improvement at the college level and onto all-conference accolades when in Pullman.
One of the reasons why the game had so much dramatic flair to it was the response from Pasadena's Keion Bell. The 6-foot-3 unsigned senior fueled the early run for Pasadena. He scored 18 of his team's 21 points to open the game and fueled the incredible run after starting the game so cold.
Bell finished with 29 points and collected nine rebounds in the defeat. His last-second shot rimmed out as time expired. Had he made the shot, the game would have gone into overtime.
To understand how impressive Bell was, look a little deeper into where he has come from. Bell didn't play his junior year at Serra High School and was a rare sight on the spring and summer circuit.
Despite his time away from the ever-present eye of national basketball recruiting, Bell looked like one of the top unsigned guards in the nation. He's big, strong, athletic, quick, smart with the ball, aggressive to the hole and scored a number of tough shots in the paint.
Because of his out of sight, out of mind situation, Bell's recruitment is rather quiet. He said he has offers from San Diego State, Nevada, UC Riverside and Northern Illinois while Cal and San Francisco are showing interest of late. His performance at the TOC was warranted any consideration from high-majors if they decide to turn up the heat as the New Year rolls around.
Derozan, Lee show their stuff
After scoring a career high 38 points on Tuesday night, Demar Derozan came back out for his encore on Wednesday. Derozan scored 25 points (11-16 FG, 3-3 FT), collected seven rebounds, grabbed five steals and had three steals against Bakersfield.
Derozan's athleticism is the best since current Atlanta Hawk ruled the airways when he was a senior at Oak Hill Academy. Both play at an eye level with the rim and have incredible body control in the air. Derozan covers so much ground when he leaves the floor.
The Southern Cal bound is the most exciting player in the country and there is a feeling that he has yet to really blow away the Tournament of Champions crowd away yet with his trademark game.
In a week where all of the headliners have put their respective stamp on the event, Malcolm Lee just needed his own time to shine. The UCLA bound guard was outstanding in a tough defeat on Wednesday afternoon. The jet-quick 6-foot-4 guard scored 36 of his team's 54 points against St. Mary's out of Phoenix.
Lee made it be known early that he would be a force to be reckoned with. He scored all seven of his team's seven first quarter points and 15 of the team's first half 18 points.
There were several times when it appeared as if Lee was on an island by himself. He made tremendous passes to teammates at the basket. However, his team struggled with the easy buckets and missed on point blank shots.
His speed and long strides to the basket are hard to stop as he makes his way to the basket. Lee scored with a pull-up jumper from three and handled big, physical guards that stepped into him on defense.
News & Notes
Playing in his first game of the season, unsigned big man Edgar Garibay scored 18 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked four shots for Compton. The 6-foot-10 big man missed the season opener on Tuesday night as he was still nursing a bum ankle. His lack of mobility was evident and he seemed to struggle getting any lift off the floor. But he did prove himself as a lane filler that will certainly catch on with a mid-major program this season.
Pepperdine bound Paul George scored 21 points (8-23, 3-13 from 3, 2-2 FT), grabbed seven rebounds, handed out four assists and collected three steals. George started incredibly hot, scoring 14 of his team's first 30 points. He anchored himself to the perimeter and never really seemed to get into the flow of the game in the second half.
All eyes on us
Assistant coaches from Southern Cal, Cal State Fullerton, UC Santa Barbara, Long Beach State and Cal State Northridge spent the day at Ocean View High School on Wednesday.
Tournament play begins on Thursday and there isn't a better game all season nationally in terms of match-up top-ranked players in the first round of action. Derozan, the nation's number two player overall at Compton High School, pairs up with Jrue Holiday, the nation's No. 3 player from Campbell Hall High School.
It will likely be the only time the two pair up with each other all season and there won't be any other match-ups in the class of 2008 that have this kind of pairing of elite level talents. The game highlights the action and tips off at 8:15 p.m. PST.
3:00 p.m. – St. Mary's vs. Lakewood
4:15 p.m. – Pasadena vs. Clovis West
5:30 p.m. – Bakersfield vs. Ocean View
7:00 p.m. – JSerra vs. Westchester
8:15 p.m. – Compton vs. Campbell Hall
9:30 p.m. – Harvard-Westlake vs. Santa Margarita