High school basketball will close its season with a Southern California Regional tournament this week, three months after it normally would have been run because of the ongoing COVID pandemic crisis.
As school districts discovered they would have to govern based on state and county regulations, private schools ran amuck, making their own determination on their students and athletes as they saw fit.
The segregation between affluent private schools and poorly ran district schools could not have been more elevated during the most challenging health crisis in modern history.
State and Los Angeles County COVID regulations loosened just enough for a semblance of sports seasons to be conducted well beyond their scheduled dates in beyond prom and graduation dates.
Some athletes decided to leave the state for an opportunity to participate elsewhere, but it likely did not matter where players sought the lure of a college scholarship, they were met with a landscape that was not kind to them. The NCAA granted its student athletes additional athletic participation, all but ruining any chance of the fringe scholarships available.
In the meantime, what we got this year was the changing of the guard in high school basketball in the City and Southern Sections.
After 42 years and 15 Los Angeles City basketball titles Ed Azzam has decided that this season will be his last on the sidelines.
I knew before the COVID shortened season ultimately began, but out of respect decided to keep the news quiet.
His longtime assistant DeWitt Cotton will take over and become the first Black head coach in the history of the school.
Now the most storied rivalry in the history of the Los Angeles City Section will feature two Black coaches in Cotton and Reggie Morris, Jr. of Fairfax.
Azzam came up short on title number 16, as Birmingham defeated the Comets to capture the City Open Division crown on June 12 at Westchester High School.
The new face of high school basketball and more specifically private school Sierra Canyon, Bronny James, the highly touted son of NBA icon LeBron James made his long awaited season debut on June 11 in the Southern Section Open Division Championship against Corona Centennial.
We learned a couple of things from the title tilt that ended Sierra Canyon’s reign in the Southern Section.
First and foremost is junior Sierra Canyon guard Amir Baily is too good to continue to play high school basketball and should reclassify and enroll at UCLA right now.
Second, is Bronny is an elite defender as a sophomore who will experience a breakout season next year but will never measure up to the hype in comparisons to his father and the none sense should stop.
A knee injury forced Bronny to be shut down for the season, but he made a shocking and surprising appearance in the championship game, looked winded and out of shape but score 7 points in an uplifting performance.
Finally, Sierra Canyon and everyone else are going to require significant upgrades if they are to contend with Corona Centennial.
The Huskies got 24 points from UCLA recruit Kylan Boswell, a sophomore, 21 from junior Donovan Dent, 16 from sophomore Jared McCain and stellar games from underclassmen 6’6 Aaron McBride and 6’10 Devin Williams.
Centennial may not attract the likes of LeBron and Drake to their home games like Bronny did in his debut, but chances are they will add more banners to go with the one they took at Sierra Canyon.