Miguel Villegas, the boys' basketball coach at L.A. Windward, must be taking acting lessons in his spare time this summer, because on Monday night, in the debut of prized incoming freshman point guard Jalen Harris, Villegas was acting way too cool for what had transpired.
"He did OK," Villegas said.
Yeah, right. All Harris did was score 16 points against a split squad from Santa Ana Mater Dei in his high school debut, a 61-53 victory for Windward in a first-round game of the Westchester tournament.
"I tried to play my best and get everyone involved," said Harris, a 14-year-old who played defense, made some outside shots and was very poised throughout. "The speed is faster than middle school."
Villegas had spoken highly of the 6-foot Harris more than a week ago, and all indications are that Harris can be a major factor at the varsity level in the fall. Windward already has the No. 1 girls' point guard in the state in UCLA-bound Jordin Canada, and Harris might be another nugget in the making for the Wildcats.
"It was a pretty fun experience," Harris said.
Windward already has an outstanding 6-7 junior swingman, Roman Davis, who finished with 21 points. Mater Dei showed off promising 6-8 freshman forward Billy Preston, who scored 16 points and went to the free-throw line 17 times, because Windward had trouble stopping him on drives to the basket.
Later, Villegas let his secret out of the bag.
"He's a very skilled player," he said of Harris. "He's played at a high level in AAU ball. The thing about him that is very impressive is he shoots the ball very well."
Top teams in Fairfax tourney
Next week's Fairfax tournament at Fairfax High is shaping up as perhaps the best of the summer, because teams should be at full strength before players take off for more camps and travel-ball competitions.
Action begins June 24. Teams that have entered include Mater Dei, Loyola, Harvard-Westlake, El Camino Real, Alemany, Chaminade, Crespi, Santa Monica, Orange Lutheran, Compton, Brentwood, Chino Hills and Corona Centennial, Long Beach Poly, Fairfax and La Canada.
Chaminade's football and basketball teams have added a top senior transfer student in 6-5 receiver-forward Brayden Lenius from British Columbia.