The New Southern California Basketball

CIF-SS Large Enrollment Division Preview:
San Gabriel Valley League 2001-02--(Nov. 26, 2001)


Just when we thought someone else besides Dominguez might have a shot at winning the  San Gabriel Valley League title, we come across the Long Beach Press Telegram's season preview for Dominguez (see below) and it becomes clear that while the Dons may have lost more than a few players, and may have a new coach, that they are still likely to be the favorites in the league, and could possibly contend for a State title, their fourth in four years.   At least no one who knows high school basketball is willing to count them out this early, not with some of the players they have on their squad this year.   As for the rest of the league, things are a bit murky right now in terms of solid roster information.  Downey and Lynwood look like they'll compete, Warren lost a lot to graduation, and Paramount is just a complete unknown to us..... Obviously, as additional information comes in, we'll update the roster info.  In the meantime, what follows is both incomplete and at times filled with either solid info (e.g., Dominguez based on Ted Kian's great research) or filled with hyperbole and hot air....Hey, at least most of the schedules are accurate. We encourage coaches, fans, players, parents, anyone who knows, to send us official rosters (via e-mail) and any other information about the teams we're missing so we can update these previews and share the information. 

Update 11/27/01:   The Long Beach Press Telegram's "Prep Sports" section (also a website) featured it's boys' basketball prep previews today and yesterday (11/26 & 11/27), and among the leagues and teams featured was a brief rundown by staff writers James Melroy and Ted Kian on the San Gabriel Valley League as a whole.  It's not much different from our view (above), but it does provide a closer look at a few of the teams where we were lacking information.  Here's the San Gabriel Valley League excerpt (which can also be found as a part of the story in the link above):

"Though there may be some new faces, Dominguez is still the team to beat in this league. Senior Keion Kindred is one of the top point guards in the state, but will have to integrate several newcomers into the offense, including forward Travon Free. But with new head coach Mack Calvin coming in, everyone should be on the same page. Lynwood was picked by many experts to finish behind the Dons, thanks in part to former Dominguez star Darius Sanders enrolling. But the standout forward has since checked out of school, thus throwing the Knights' prospects in question. Lynwood, however, does have a pair of standout guards in brothers Cash and Darrell McCall. Forward Ernie Sandoval returns for his fourth year on the Paramount varsity, while Downey is led by junior guard Larry Cunningham. Watch for the Pirates and Vikings to battle Lynwood for second and third place, while Warren and Gahr will likely be rebuilding after losing their top scorers from last year. Senior forward Ekber Djokovic is the only returnee from the Bears' varsity last season."

San Gabriel Valley League Rosters San Gabriel Valley League Schedules
Dominguez--22-2, 10-0 (1st)  "Dons"

So many new faces, so many old ones gone....

This year, the Dons have a new coach, who replaces last year's "new" coach, who replaced Russell Otis, who lost the job when he ran into legal troubles (which were resolved in his favor last spring).  And despite the fact that Otis was acquited of any wrongdoing (we're not going to detail the charges again....they're not worth repeating), he was not rehired by Dominguez, and he withdrew his name from consideration after much debate at Lynwood.   So Otis is not coaching this season, and many of his former players, the ones who would have returned this year for their senior and junior seasons, have left the school for greener pastures.

Dominguez has won three State Championships in a row, and too many league titles to count.  They've had some terrific players, including Tayshaun Prince (Kentucky), Tyson Chandler (NBA Chicago Bulls) and many, many others.  But the only two really familiar names returning for the 2001-02 season are Keion Kindred and Travon Free, and only Kindred was a starter last season.  In fact the only players returning from last season's varsity squad are:

Keion Kindred  6'-4" Sr. PG
Travon Free 6'-6" Jr. F
Alo Tao 5'-9" So. G
Jason Merdock 5'-9" So. G

All the others transferred out, including:
Mingus Murray 5'-9" Jr. G (unknown, New York?)
Saul Langster 6'-4" Sr. G (LB Poly)
Daris Sanders 6'-5" Sr. F (Lynwood)
Bobby Jones 6'-7" Sr. F/G  (Long Beach Poly)
Samir Hernandez 6'-7" Sr. F (Gardena Serra)

The Dons lost four seniors to graduation, including Chandler, the No. 2 overall pick in the draft last year.   So what does the roster look like for this season?  Here's what we've been able to piece together so far:

2001-02 Dominguez Dons:

Keion Kindred  6'-4" Sr. PG
Travon Free 6'-6" Jr. F
Alo Tao 5'-9" So. G
Jason Merdock 5'-9" So. G
Deon Marcus, 6'-7" Sr. F (transfer from Verbum Dei)
Marcus Symer 6'-6" So. C (240 lbs--transfer from Hawthorne)
Joseph Dawson 6'-1" Sr. G (transfer from Colorado)
Lou Davis 6'-6" Sr. F (255 lb football player)
LaJuan Ramsey 6'-4" Sr. F (265 lb football player)
Jason Cooper 6'-1" Sr. G (football player)

We don't know a lot about the new guys, but then neither does anyone else.  Ted Kian, who covers Dominguez for the Long Beach Press Telegram, wrote a very informative season preview today, and rather than paraphrase it, we'll both link to it, and reproduce portions of it below for reference.  Be sure to check the Press Telegram throughout the season for news and profiles of players in the San Gabriel League, especially the stuff written by Ted, and now that Louis Johnson is apparently back with the paper as well, we're looking forward to seeing his work as well.   Here's the P-T's preview: 

Calvin expects business as usual at

By Ted Kian
Staff writer
Long Beach Press Telegram

There aren't many individuals who possess as diverse or impressive a basketball resume as Long Beach native Mack Calvin.  After being honored as the CIF-Southern Section Player of the Year and graduating from Poly in 1965, Calvin went on to stardom at Long Beach City College and USC, before embarking on a 13-year professional career in the ABA and NBA, where he scored more than 17,000 points. 

Calvin has coached at all levels of basketball. In his lone year of coaching preps, Calvin compiled a 38-1 record at Englewood, Colo.'s Cherry Creek High in 1986. He has experience as an assistant with the University of Virginia, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Milwaukee Bucks.  He has head coaching experience with Cal State Dominguez Hills in 1996-97 and on an interim basis with the Clippers for two games in 1992. Calvin also scouted for the Denver Nuggets for two years and has spent the past two years as a color commentator for prep basketball games on FoxSports West. 

Calvin, however, has probably never faced a more daunting challenge than right now. He takes over as head coach for a Dominguez High boys basketball team that has won three consecutive CIF Division II state titles, finishing in the USA Today national top five each of the last two years.  Calvin replaces Steve Singleton at the Dominguez helm. Singleton, who is not coaching this year, became the Dons' interim coach last year, after the Compton Unified School District suspended and later fired highly successful coach Russell Otis, who also is not coaching this year.  

The Dominguez squad Calvin inherits is no longer loaded with high school superstars. Tyson Chandler, the second pick in last year's NBA Draft, is now playing for the Chicago Bulls.  The Dons were slated to return a pair of Press-Telegram Dream Team first-team forwards in seniors Bobby Jones and Darius Sanders. But Jones is now playing for Poly, while Sanders transferred to Lynwood, where he played football this fall.  Top reserves Saul Lankster (Poly) and Samir Hernandez (Serra) also transferred after the coaching change, leaving point guard Keion Kindred as the only returnee with significant varsity experience. 

Calvin, however, does not consider Dominguez to be in a rebuilding mode, even though the Dons begin the year ranked an uncharacteristically low No.‚8 in the state's CIF Division II by CalHi Sports.  "I've told the guys from day one that our goal is to win a state championship," Calvin said. "I would not settle for anything less. Some teams may be more talented and a lot will be more experienced than us. But you have to go out and play it on the floor." 

Calvin contends that he has the top point guard in the state in Kindred, a chiseled 6-3, 210-pound senior who was selected to the Press-Telegram Dream Team third-team last year, after averaging 9 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists.  Kindred planned to transfer had Otis gotten the head coaching job at Lynwood. He also considered enrolling at Crenshaw, which is near his home in South Central L.A., before deciding to remain at Dominguez.  After a strong summer, Kindred orally committed to sign with UTEP, spurning scholarship overtures from schools such as USC, Minnesota and SMU. But under his mother's encouragement, Kindred withdrew his commitment to UTEP and plans to re-open his recruitment in the spring.  For now, though, Kindred has an opportunity to become the first boys or girls prep basketball player in California high school history to win four state championships at the same school.  "I was going to leave if Otis got the job at Lynwood, but since he didn't I decided I want to stay at the school I love," Kindred said. "In a way I'm still bitter at the way Otis and Singleton were treated by the school district. I still converse with them and they will always be to close to me, but you have to move on.  "We're young this year and we're not as tall as in years past. A lot of people think we're not going to be any good, but there is actually a lot of talent on this team." 

Calvin plans to rotate in 10 or 11 players regularly, while employing an up-tempo style at both ends of the floor. The Dons return three other sparingly used varsity players from last season in 6-7, 220-pound junior Travon Free, and 5-10 guards Tau Alo and Jason Murdock, all of whom Calvin believes have the potential to become stars. 

"I wasn't really sure how the program was going to be run after the coaching change," said Free, who initially said he would transfer to Verbum Dei but later changed his mind. "Now I'm pretty confident we can pull off another state championship."  Calvin is counting on key contributions from newcomers Deon Marcus, a 6-7 senior forward who averaged 17 points at Verbum Dei last season, Marcus Symer, a 6-6, 240-pound center who played varsity as freshman last year at Hawthorne High, and 6-1 senior Joseph Dawson, a transfer from Colorado who Calvin believes will become the great outside shooter that Dominguez lacked last season. 

Also expected to serve as intricate parts of the Dominguez squad this winter will be 6-6, 255-pound senior Lou Davis, 6-4, 265-pound senior LaJuan Ramsey and athletic 6-1 senior Jason Cooper, all of whom will start practicing with the team today, after the Dons' football team saw its season end in a 28-14 loss to San Clemente on Friday night.  "They've had tremendous athletes at Dominguez in the past, but those kids were not developed fundamentally," Calvin said. "We have four or five guys on this team who I expect to eventually play (NCAA) Division I college basketball. But they have to work hard every day on the fundamentals." 

The players, many of whom were skeptical of Calvin at first, have bought into his coaching style, which features fast-paced practice sessions that resemble those seen in the movie, "Hoosiers."   "We have a coach who was in the position we're in now," Marcus said. "He was a high school All-American. He played in college and he played in the NBA, so we know he knows what it takes to get us where we want to be. He's already taught me many aspects of basketball that I hadn't learned under all my previous coaches." 

Despite having a youthful and inexperienced squad, Calvin assembled a challenging schedule. Dominguez will open its season Wednesday against co-host Clovis Buchanan in the B.C.W. Tournament at Clovis West. At the Westchester High tournament in early December, the Dons have a potential second-round game against the host school, which begins the season ranked No.‚1 nationally by USA Today. 

Dominguez will be one of 40 [sic--it's actually 50, but whose counting?] schools from across the nation in the Torrey Pines Invitational in San Diego from Dec.‚26-29. The Dons are also slated to play Modesto Christian, ranked by CalHi Sports as the preseason No.‚2 team in the state behind Westchester, in the Lynwood Shootout, and Poly, the Press-Telegram preseason No.‚1 team in the area, in a regular-season game. 

"We want to play the best teams early to prepare us for tournament play late in the season," Calvin said. "We're not afraid of anybody."  In 1993, Dominguez signed a deal to wear Nike athletic apparel. The Dons have been one of 12 prep teams in the country that receive top-level funding from the shoe company. In large part due to Calvin's friendship with Nike's Southern California basketball talent evaluator and former USC star Don Crenshaw, the Dons will keep their Nike sponsorship, which is renewable at the end of each year. However, there is no guarantee that Calvin will stay past this year. He is a walk-on coach who did not receive a majority approval from the Compton Unified School Board before his hiring.   "We have a history of excellence at this school and I expect you will continue to see top players wanting to play for Dominguez," Calvin said. "As for my own future, I live one day at a time and try to do the best I can. I've been very pleased with the support I've received from the administration and school since I've been here. I hope to be here a long time, because I'm getting another chance to do what I love."


Coach: Mack Calvin

J 09 @ *Downey
11 @ *Warren
16 *Gahr
18 @ *Paramount
23 *Lynwood
25 *Downey
30 *Warren
F 01 @ *Gahr
05 *Paramount
07 @ *Lynwood
(Note: This schedule was evidently
turned in by the school prior to
the hiring of Mack Calvin, the new
coach, so it is obviously incomplete
and features only league contests,
not preseason tournaments)

Warren--6-4, 18-8 (2nd) "Bears"

With the above information on Dominguez, the fact that they've kept their Nike sponsorship and appear to have once again, not merely rebuilt, but reloaded, everyone else will likely be playing for second place again this year.  Warren had a great run last year, but they graduated 10 seniors.  Depending upon transfers and other moves, the following players should be returning:

Danny Cristales 6'-0" So. F
Ekber Djokovic 6'-3" Sr. F
Dennis Moore 6'-0" Sr. G
Ronald Fleming 6'-1" So. G
Ibrahim Nino 5'-11" Jr. G

We can't say any more right now about the Bears other than what's above.  Can't wait for the PT's preview of the entire league, so we can fill in the info.  In the meantime, if anyone has the complete roster, send it in.

Update 11/27/01:  The Press-Telegram noted in its league capsule (above) that the only returning player for Warren this year will be Ekber Djokovic, so the rest of the guys listed were either jv last season when listed on the playoff roster, or have transferred out, or just won't be playing. 


Coach: Josh Buell

N 27 Salesian
D 3-7 @ El Rancho Tourn
10-15 @ El Dorado Tourn
19 @ Alhambra
21 Cerritos
26-29 @ Brea Olinda Tourn
J 04 @ Schurr
09 @ *Paramount
11 *Dominguez
16 @ *Downey
18 @ *Lynwood
23 *Gahr
25 *Paramount
30 @ *Dominguez
F 01 *Downey
05 *Lynwood
07 @ *Gahr

Lynwood--4-6, 5-15 (3rd tie)  "Knights"

Talk about a program that is continually in flux.  Last year with new coaches, the Knights were attempting to build their program back up to the days when they were the dominant force in the league.  How far off had the program fallen?   Only 5 wins overall, and that's a pretty big drop-off for a program with a multi-million dollar, state of the art gymnasium situated right in the middle of a hotbed of local talent.  And then things got even crazier this past summer.  With the acquittal of Russell Otis from Dominguez of the charges filed against him just before the beginning of last season, but with Dominguez refusing to rehire him, Otis put his name in for the coaching position at Lynwood, a position which wasn't vacant at the time.    Of course this managed to cause a flurry of rumors about transfers of players, and in fact, several players did transfer, including Darius Sanders 6'-5" Sr. F, who played football for Lynwood.  Otis did not get the job, and is not teaching this year or coaching, but Sanders remains at Lynwood.  Rumors of Deon Marcus 6'-7" Sr. F transferring from Verbum Dei back to Lynwood turned out to be false, and instead, Deon has transferred to Dominguez. The situation seems to have settled down somewhat, and while we haven't seen the official roster, here's who should be returning for the 2001-02 season (again barring transfers):

Josh Arnold  6'-3" Jr. G
Darrell McCall 5'-11" Jr. G
Cash McCall
William Washington 5'-109" Sr. G
Danny Jones  6'-2" Jr. G
Harold Leffall 6'-3" Jr. F
Andre Cobbs  6'-09" Sr. G/F
Marcus Minor   6'-4" Jr. F
Leandre Allen  6'-2" Sr. F
Lorenzo Demery  6'-5" Sr. F
Darius Sanders  6'-5" Sr. F (transferred from Dominguez to Lynwood, then checked out to Compton Centennial after football season)

Lynwood made it to the playoffs, despite an abysmal overall record by virtue of finishing in 3rd, but tat the Division I-AAA level, they drew Fountain Valley in the first round and were out.  The Knights are no doubt looking to put together a more consistent run this year.


Coach: TBA

D 03 @ Pasadena
08 Lynwood Tourn
10-15 @ Ocean View Tourn
20 Fountain Valley
26-29 @ Las Vegas, NV Tourn
J 09 *Gahr
11 *Downey
16 *Paramount
18 *Warren
23 @ *Dominguez
25 @ *Gahr
30 @ *Downey
F 01 @ *Paramount
05 @ *Warren
07 *Dominguez

Downey- 4-6, 14-11 (3rd tie)  Vikings

Downey tied for third in the league last season, but as a result of the tie-breaker, qualified for the I-AAA playoffs as an at-large entry.  Whether it was the bad seeding, or the opponent, or just that they had a bad day, Downey lost in the first round to Capistrano Valley, which surprised a lot of people, coming in unseeded and making it to the finals where they lost to eventual champions Upland.   Based on last year's roster, here's who we would expect to see returning this season:

Dan Hardy  6'-3" Sr. G
Antoine Davis  5'-9" Sr. G
Steve Topete  6'-0" Sr. F
Larry Cunningham  6'-0" Jr. G
Jamie Johnson  5'-9" Sr. G
Jon Alonzo  5'-11" Sr. F
Chris Richardson  6'-3" Jr. F
Aaron Perez  5'-9" Sr. G


Coach: Larry Shelton

N-27/D-1 @ Gahr Tourn
D 10-15 @ Sonora Tourn
20 @ Bellflower
26-29 @ Covina Tourn
J 02 Esperanza
03 @ St John Bosco
09 *Dominguez
11 @ *Lynwood
16 *Warren
18 @ *Gahr
23 *Paramount
25 @ *Dominguez
30 *Lynwood
F 01 @ *Warren
02 @ Lakewood
05 *Gahr
07 @ *Paramount

Gahr--4-6, 13-12 (3rd tie) "Gladiators"

Gahr only returns three players from last year's playoff roster

Terry Coon  5'-9" Sr. G
Joseph Purcell 6'-3" Sr. F
Byron Hall 6'-4" Sr. G

Garh qualfied for the playoffs as a "wild-card" entry, winning their first game and then getting to the official bracket's first round whee they drew Inglewood, and the rest was history:  Inglewood went on to play Dominguez in the Section Championship game (Inglewood lost), and Gahr got a nice parting gift and was shown the door.  We don't have the current roster, but the schedule is accurate.  We'll update this as information becomes available to us.

Coach: Bryan Voshell

N-27/D-1 Gahr/Cerritos Tourn
D 05 Wilson/LB
07 @ Cerritos
10-15 @ Troy/Sonora Tourn
19 Valley Christian/C
26-29 @ Brea Olinda TOurn
J 04 @ Brea Olinda
09 @ *Lynwood
11 *Paramount
16 @ *Dominguez
18 *Downey
23 @ *Warren
25 *Lynwood
30 @ *Paramount
F 01 *Dominguez
05 @ *Downey
07 *Warren

Paramount--3-7,   14-15 (6th)  Pirates

Paramount last year qualified for the playoffs in Division I-AAA as an at-large entry, and they had the misfortune of drawing the No. 2 seed in the bracket, Eisenhower, a team which has a legitimate shot this season at a section title.  We don't have the roster from last season, and haven't seen this year's so we have no idea who is returning or who is actually on the current team.  We'll update this shortly.

According to the Press-Telegram, forward Ernie Sandoval will be returning for his 4th year.

Coach: Mark Stewart

N 28 Norwalk
30 Valley Christian/C
D 3-8 @ El Rancho Tourn
10-15 @ Troy Tourn
17 Whittier
19 @ Pioneer
26-29 @ Nogales Tourn
J 09 *Warren
11 @ *Gahr
16 @ *Lynwood
18 *Dominguez
23 @ *Downey
25 @ *Warren
30 *Gahr
F 01 *Lynwood
05 @ *Dominguez
07 *Downey

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