It will be a chance for the high school players to step onto the same field where LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook run the field. Where Nneka Ogwumike and Candace Parker led the Sparks to a championship. Where Kobe Bryant perfected the mid-range turnaround.
Excitement builds for the Chosen-1’s Invitational on Saturday, where four Nike Elite schools and two local programs – Sierra Canyon and Fairfax – will showcase their girls and boys basketball teams for a showcase event at Staples Center.
All eyes will be on a 7 pm men’s basketball game between St. Vincent-St. Mary of Akron, Ohio and Chatsworth Sierra Canyon, a showdown between LeBron James’ alma mater and his son Bronny’s current playground. The invitation was created by James in partnership with Nike and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Yet the girls of Sierra Canyon and Fairfax are also thrilled to be spending their day in the sun.
“It’s a very small showcase, and they could easily have made it just three boys’ games or four boys’ games,” said Alicia Komaki, Sierra Canyon girls’ head coach. “The fact that they have a female representation is really cool.”
For Fairfax (2-2), this is a “great opportunity,” said coach Charles Harrell, to raise awareness of a program to rebuild the city. For Sierra Canyon, it’s an opportunity to prove themselves among the best teams in the country.
Receive our high school sports newsletter
Prep Rally is all about the sports experience of SoCal High School, bringing you scores, stories, and a behind-the-scenes look at what makes prep sports so popular.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.
Harrell is delighted to see a few of his players, who have persevered for three consecutive losing seasons to try and overthrow the Fairfax schedule, to get a feel of what it’s like to play at a higher level. Chief among them is Asiah Harris, who Harrell says led the exercise load and pumped up the team in anticipation.
âThis opportunity is nice because then it allows other young girls and other parents to understand thatâ¦â Hey, you can get it [national] scene here at a school in town, âsaid Harrell. âYou can get this scene here in your own neighborhood. “
Fairfax will start as an underdog on Saturday in their game against St. Vincent-St. Married. Harrell said his team has increased their intensity and may surprise some participants.
âWe could actually open an eye or two,â Harrell said. âI know the bettors – 13 to one, or 20 to one, or whatever. But I would hold on, because we might surprise.
Komaki, meanwhile, is equally happy with the opportunity but bitter the circumstances for the Trailblazers.
Sierra Canyon (2-0) is headed for a 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 at Staples Center the next day.
“No high school team is prepared for this kind of schedule,” Komaki said.
So, despite his team rolling through the first two games of the season, the coach isn’t convinced the Trailblazers will bring their best effort on Saturday against Christ the King.
It would be a huge boost if transfer star Juju Watkins – the No.1 prospect in the 2023 class – could join Sierra Canyon on Saturday. Watkins is still cleared by the Southern Section after being transferred from Los Angeles Windward ahead of the season, although Komaki has said the team are hoping they will make their debut in the season in Texas.
While Watkins grew up in Watts, Komaki said she would be disappointed if the hometown kid wasn’t at least cleared to play at Staples Center on Saturday. If not, the Trailblazers will be looking for a big production from sophomores MacKenly Randolph and Izela Arenas. The two, daughters of former NBA stars Zach Randolph and Gilbert Arenas, will have the chance to shine on the same pitch where their fathers once faced off against Bryant.
The Sierra Canyon boys, meanwhile, will have five star senior UCLA and Amari Bailey back in line-up against St. Vincent-St. Married. He played his first game this season on Wednesday night after recovering from a foot injury. He had 23 points, eight rebounds and five assists in a 100-72 home win over Santa Clarita West Ranch. Senior Kijani Wright, who has signed up for USC, will look to continue a series of good plays.
The first game, between Fairfax and St. Vincent-St. Mary’s women’s teams start at 2 p.m. The other games are Sierra Canyon v Christ the King in a girls game at 3:30 p.m. and Fairfax v Chris the King in a boys game at 5:00 p.m. Ticket prices range from $ 20 to $ 37.