Who is the best high school boys basketball player in Southern California over the past 20 years? Over the next two weeks we’ll give you a chance to decide.
Our 32-player bracket tipped off Tuesday with first-round matchups in the Ed Azzam region. The voting continued Wednesday with first-round matchups in the Gary McKnight region. In the third matchup in the region, Foothills Christian’s TJ Leaf, a three seed, faced Russell Westbrook, a six seed from Leuzinger.
Here’s a look at the matchup:
(6) Russell Westbrook, Leuzinger
Westbrook played at Leuzinger High in Lawndale. He was a two-time MVP of the Bay League. As a senior at Leuzinger, he led his team to a 25-4 overall record and a CIF Southern Section Division I-AA quarterfinal playoff appearance. Westbrook averaged 25.1 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.1 steals and 2.3 assists per game that season. He made 57 three-point shots and shot 76.0 percent from the free throw line as a senior. He totaled 14 double-doubles scoring 30 or more points eight times. His career high came against Carson when he put in 51 points in January of 2006.
Westbrook played college basketball at UCLA before being drafted fourth overall by the Seattle SuperSonics, the team that later became the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2008. He now plays for the Houston Rockets. He’s a nine time All-Star and was named League MVP in 2017.
(3) TJ Leaf, Foothills Christian
Leaf was a four year starter at Foothills Christian and a McDonald’s All-American in 2016. As a senior in 2016, Leaf averaged 28.4 points, 12.4 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 3.2 steals per game. He shot 68 percent from the field and totaled 852 points in 30 games. Leaf concluded his high school career with 3,022 points and 1,476 rebounds. He helped lead Foothills Christian to the CIF San Diego Section Championship in 2016, totaling 36 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and six blocks in an 80-63 win over Cathedral Catholic. Leaf scored 44 points in a loss to Chino Hills High School in the regional semifinal game in the state playoffs that season, the best team in the country.
Leaf was named the CIF San Diego Section Division II Player of the Year as a junior and senior. He averaged 27.4 points, 14.2 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2.7 blocks and 1.8 steals per game as a junior. Foothills Christian won the 2015 CIF San Diego Section Division II championship. As a sophomore (2013-14), Leaf averaged 26.5 points, 12.6 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 3.8 blocks and 2.0 steals per game. He was named the Sunset League Player of the Year as a sophomore (2014) and freshman (2013).
Leaf played college basketball at UCLA. He was drafted 18th overall by the Indiana Pacers in the 2017 NBA Draft, the team he still plays for.
Russell Westbrook won the total vote across Scorebook Live, Instagram and Twitter 113-62.