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April 10, 2010LAS VEGAS - During a 10-minute interview, Cezar Guerrero talked as much about drama class as he did about basketball.
How he wants to be a Spanish-language actor if hoops doesn't work out. How his mother almost named him Tyrone. How he strives to emulate Magic Johnson's game but wants to "have a better shot."
The way Guerrero is playing here at the Fullcourt Press Easter Classic it looks like his future is bright on the basketball court. Television shows and movies, a career on the big screen, might have to wait. His engaging personality shines through best with the basketball in his hands as he sets up teammates for easy buckets.
He smiles a lot. But it's been a tough year for him.
Guerrero broke his collarbone last summer and then missed his entire junior season because of transfer rules but the 6-foot point guard from Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco is proving he's one of the West Coast's best point guards.
He's intelligent, efficient, confident and is leading his Belmont Shore team to easy victories this weekend. Unless something unexpected happens, Belmont Shore should meet Compton Magic, led by speedy point guard Jahii Carson and 2012 standout Gabe York, in Sunday's championship.
Guerrero does not appear super athletic but then he successfully attempts a 360-dunk during warm-ups. He does not appear incredibly fast but then he gets the ball in transition, blows past defenders and throws a no-look pass to a teammate for a dunk. He rarely turns the ball over, rarely makes the wrong decision, always seems under control.
He might have missed his junior season - usually crucial for recruiting - but he's coming back strong this spring, starting at the Fullcourt Press spring leagues and carrying it over to the Easter Classic.
"It was exciting to get back on the court but then again I was working out on a really, really small court just running," Guerrero said.
"Once you get the feel of playing on a real high school court you're just out of breath and you get tired but little by little I got into it and it was fun."
Recruiting has been steady but the consensus feeling is that once coaches see Guerrero is back fully healthy and ready to go that things should pick up even more.
Letters come almost every day and Guerrero listed Marquette, Stanford, UNLV, UTEP, Illinois and Arizona as the schools showing the most interest. He said Southern Cal has stopped sending mail and that UCLA has not been that involved yet.
"I really don't know who's offered me, the only person who knows is my brother, and right now he's just trying to keep that off my mind, so I can focus on what I have to focus on instead of people asking me where I'm going," Guerrero said.
"Every time I go on my Myspace I get kids asking where are you going to go or how did you get your handles. It's fun. There have been some instances where people have asked for autographs so it's pretty cool. Hopefully everything works out for me."
If Guerrero keeps playing this well, it should.
Compton Magic tested but prevails
The Magic scored in the triple digits Friday night and blew out their opponent by 30 points Saturday morning but were finally tested later in the day by the Danny Granger Hurricanes. But Carson, York, athletic center Greg Sequele and Co. prevailed, 97-83, leading into Sunday's playoffs. It was close for a while, though, the game tied at 47 early in the second half.
Sequele, from Ribet Academy in California, is a 2011 prospect who could emerge as a top frontcourt player on the West Coast with a big AAU season. He's strong, runs the floor well and finishes everything around the basket.
Carson and York form arguably the best backcourt at the tournament. Los Angeles Windward small forward Wesley Saunders is a solid small forward and with Sequele and New Mexico commit Dominique Dunning down low the Magic will be a tough out.
Other News & Notes
Long Beach (Calif.) Poly prospect Alex Carmen had 25 points in the morning session and also played well in the afternoon for Cal Supreme Black. Carmen said Loyola Marymount, San Diego, Marquette, Washington State, UCLA and UNLV are showing interest.
** Stephon Maxwell, an athletic forward from Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft, said Washington, Montana State, Pennsylvania and San Francisco are sending mail. He had 15 points and about eight rebounds in Cal Supreme Black's second game.
Las Vegas Prospects center Henry Buckley, a UNLV commit, was impressive especially on the defensive end. Belmont Shore Gold's C.J. Cooper showed a nice shooting touch from three-point range. Team Next Level point guard J'Quon Wroten, a 2010 prospect, is expected to attend prep school at Houston (Texas) University Park Academy next season.
Kevin Panzer, a 6-foot-8 power forward playing with Belmont Shore, said Nevada offered earlier this week. The 2010 prospect from Mission Viejo (Calif.) Capo Valley was committed to Penn but backed off that pledge in November.
Stanford, UCLA, USC, Cal and Arizona are on the early list for Saunders, who missed Friday's action with Compton Magic but will be here for the rest of the weekend.
For the Texas D1 Ambassadors, shooting guard/small forward Jalen Washington is hearing from Texas Tech, Alabama and West Virginia, point guard Deon Mitchell has Texas Tech, Wichita State, Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State and sophomore point guard Michael Hardge has Texas Tech, Wichita State and Texas State showing early interest.