It will be a chance for high school students to step into the same arena ruled by LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook. Where Nneka Ogvumike and Candice Parker took Sparks to the championship. Where Kobe Bryant perfected the mid-range turn.
The buzz is brewing at the Chosen-1 Invitational Saturday, with four Nike Elite schools and two local programs – Sierra Canyon and Fairfax – presenting their girls ‘and boys’ basketball teams at a demonstration event at Staples Center.
All eyes will be on the boys’ basketball game at 7pm between Saint Vincent and Saint. Mary of Akron, Ohio and Chatsworth Sierra Canyon, a duel between LeBron James’s alma mater and the current territories where Bronnie’s son is now. The invitation was created by James in partnership with Nike and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
However, the girls from Sierra Canyon and Fairfax are happy to spend their day in the sun too.
“It’s a very small showcase and they could easily make just three boys’ games or four boys’ games out of it,” said Alicia Komaki, head coach of the Sierra Canyon girls’ team. “The fact that they feature women is really cool.”
Coach Charles Harrell said this is a “golden opportunity” for Fairfax (2-2) to draw attention to the city’s rebuilding program. For Sierra Canyon, this is a chance to prove themselves among the best teams in the country.
Harrell is delighted that some of his players, who have survived three losing seasons in a row, have tried to change the Fairfax program to give them a sense of what it’s like to play at a higher level. Chief among them is Asia Harris, who Harrell says is leading the training and eagerly pumping up the team.
“This opportunity is good because it gives other young ladies and other parents the understanding that …” Hey, you can get this. [national] “The stage is right here at the city school,” Harrell said. “You can get this scene right here in your area.”
Fairfax departs Saturday as an underdog against St. Vincent-St. Mary. Harrell said his team has increased their intensity and they may surprise some with the attendance.
“We can really open a peephole or two,” Harrell said. “I know the odds are 13 to one, or 20 to one, or whatever. But I would have delayed because we might surprise. “
Komaki, meanwhile, is just as excited about the opportunity, but disappointed by the circumstances for the pioneers.
Sierra Canyon (2-0) is heading to the tournament Thursday and Friday in Texas, where they will play a total of four games, only to turn around, get on a plane and play the Staples Center the next day.
“No school team is ready for this kind of schedule,” Komaki said.
As such, even though her team has made it through the first few games of the season, the coach is unsure if the pioneers will do their best on Saturday against Christ the King.
If star transfer Juju Watkins – the # 1 promising player in the 2023 class – could join the Sierra Canyon on Saturday, it would be a huge boost. Watkins is still undergoing Southern scrutiny after moving from Los Angeles to Windward ahead of the season, although Komaki said the team hopes it will make its season debut in Texas.
As Watkins grew up in Watts, Komaki said she would be disappointed if a child from her hometown wasn’t even allowed to play at Staples Center by Saturday. Otherwise, the Pioneers will be looking for great products from freshmen McKenley Randolph and Isela Arenas. The two daughters of former NBA stars Zach Randolph and Gilbert Arenas will have a chance to prove themselves on the same site where their fathers once fought face to face with Bryant.
Meanwhile, the Sierra Canyon boys are hoping they will have a five-star senior team and UCLA will bring Amari Bailey back to the squad against Saint Vincent Saint. Mary. He has not played this season due to a foot injury. The elder Kijani Wright, who is dedicated to the USC, will strive to continue playing strong.
First game between Fairfax and St Vincent St. Mary’s girls teams, starting at 14:00. Other games are Sierra Canyon vs. Christ King in the girls game at 15:30 and Fairfax vs. King Chris in the boys game at 17:00. Ticket prices range from $ 20 to $ 37.