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SoCalHoops Recruiting News

LA Times:  Westchester Being Investigated
For Recruiting Violations--(Nov. 5, 2002)


Nothing new in that headline, right?.......Yawn......Hey, if it's November (or October, or September), it must be time to claim that Westchester illegally or improperly recruited someone.......For the past who-knows-how-long,  there have been claims that Westchester "recruits".....David Bluthenthal leaves Venice for Westchester.   Hassan Adams moves over from Verbum Dei.   Brandon Granville leaves St. Bernard (well, it is right around the corner after all....)....And the list goes on and on.   Of course, the Westchester faithful claim that with all of their success over the years, Westchester recruits itself, and there's no doubt some truth to that, because anyone who knows about high school basketball knows that it's been one of the most successful programs ever since head coach Ed Azzam arrived on the scene.    And those free Nikes?  Well, they don't deter too many kids thinking of moving.....[wink, wink]....

Today's edition of the Los Angeles Times raises the issues again, this time in the context of the latest investigation involving two fairly high-profile players who transferred in over the summer.  In a Sports section front-page piece by Mike Bresnahan,  titled "Westchester to Face Recruiting Allegations" the Times reports on the months-long investigation into allegations of illegal recruiting which will culminate in a hearing before the LA City Section with respect to two players, Gabe Pruitt who transferred from Compton Centennial and Ray Reese who transferred from Carson High.    The story's author, Mr. Bresnahan has more than passing familiarity with Westchester, having literally traveled with the team for most of last season to research his multi-part story published in the spring about recruiting and the influence of Nike at not only Westchester, but at other high schools throughout SoCal.   In his story today, Mr. Bresnahan writes that,

Westchester High, the reigning state boys' basketball champion, will appear before a special City Section rules committee today on allegations it has recruited top players from other schools.

Ray Reese of Carson High and Gabriel Pruitt of Compton Centennial transferred to Westchester this fall under unusual circumstances, officials from their former schools contend. If the committee determines a violation has occurred, either or both players could be deemed ineligible and the Comet basketball program could be punished.

This is the fourth time in three years Westchester has been formally accused of recruiting. The Comet basketball program was put on probation two years ago when it was determined a player participated in a summer tournament with Westchester before the transfer from his former school was official. That player, guard Hassan Adams, was the leading scorer on the Comets' state title-winning team last season and is now at Arizona on a basketball scholarship.

Mr. Bresnahan also notes that a third player, Jerard Moret (6'-4" So. G/F) from Pacific Hills, who transferred over the summer, is not a target of any allegations of improper recruiting.  As a consequence, Moret, who was an All-CIF Division V-AA selection as a freshman, will presumably be eligible regardless of what happens with the other two players.

There's not a lot new in the story about Westchester for those who follow high school basketball, or who have been reading the message boards here at SoCalHoops,  but it does allude to a little known (at least to the general public) technique of applying LA Unified's "opportunity transfer" rules to sports-related transfers,  which has actually been a pretty poorly kept secret among basketball players and coaches in the Section.   In fact, posters on our SoCalHoops message board have from time to time openly discussed the technique, which generally is described thusly:  A player alleges that he must transfer from school "A" to school "B" because he's been threatened by gangs or some other form of violence at school "A".... And of course, the student can't identify his assailants because of fear of reprisal, and likewise, LA Unified isn't going to risk potential civil liability if in fact the allegations are true, so the school district generally concludes that there's no choice but to grant the transfer. 

In any event, according to Mr. Bresnahan's story, the LA City Section will hold hearings today on whether or not Gabe Pruitt and Ray Reese were improperly  "recruited" to attend Westchester.  The details are certainly beyond the scope of anything we feel comfortable commenting upon here, but if you're interested, by all means, check out the Times' story.   If the City Section determines they were, sanctions no doubt will be imposed on the Comets, which could include a ban on post-season play, or other sanctions.  And the two players?   As Mr. Bresnahan notes, one or both of them could be declared to be ineligible for the upcoming season. Or they could be declared eligible for this season.   Either way,  the Times' story is worth a read.  Click this link for the entire article (you'll need to register with the Times to read other stories, but it's free and painless, so check it out). 

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