Spotlight on: Dominguez Dons
Location: Compton, California
By Brett Manney
Dominguez High School has a lot to prove this year after falling short in last year’s California Interscholastic Federation Division 1 final to McClymonds, 73-54.
After finishing the season 32-2 and winning the Southern California regional title in 2008, the senior-dominated Dons should be expecting gold instead of silver come March.
Being at the top isn’t anything new for the Dons as the squad has been a powerhouse program for many years in California. Since 1990, they are consistently recognized as one of the nation’s best teams. In 1999-2000, the Dons were ranked No. 1 in the country according to USA Today and were armed with arguably the best player in the nation, Tyson Chandler.
The Dons’ winning tradition has turned the school into a basketball factory. In addition to Chandler, fellow Dons include Dennis Johnson and Tayshaun Prince. The newest member to hopefully join the elite class is 6-7 wingman Jordan Hamilton.
The small forward has become one of the nation’s most feared players and for obvious reasons. The Texas recruit averaged 27 points and 11 rebounds a game last year.
The wingman can score at will with his high-percentage fadeaway jumper, strong slashing moves, in addition to being able to finish well at the rim. Texas head coach Rick Barnes will love his ability to score with ease, something that allows him to finish in transition. The run and gun style of play of Dominguez is the perfect fit for Hamilton and his teammates.
But the road for future success is already bumpy for Dominguez. The Dons have current issues with Hamilton and former coach Russell Otis is on admintrative leave as the subject of various allegations.
According to the Long Beach Press, Hamilton is awaiting a decision on a hardship waiver from the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section. Hamilton was enrolled at Dorsey high school in the fall of ’04 and used up all of his eligibility.
Meanwhile, Otis is under fire because of his alleged recruiting tactics. Since ‘87 under Otis, Dominguez has won 10 Sectional section championships and six state titles. It’s alleged that Otis broke recruiting and residency rules during his tenure as coach.
New head coach Duane Cooper will have his hands full of talented players whether or not Hamilton is cleared. The Dons have a boatload of experienced seniors along with 6-8 forward Norvell Pelle, a sophomore transfer from Lakewood. The athletic forward could be next in line of great players to emerge from the hardwood court of Dominguez.
The Los Angeles Times’ preseason rankings put the Dons at No. 4 behind Mater Dei, King and Fairfax. There are certainly some lofty expectations for a team with some uncertainly early in the season, especially if Hamilton cannot play.
But the Dons certainly have the talent to make a run at the state championship. Anything less would be a disappointment.
To contact correspondent Brett Manney, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.