This is going to be a treat tonight because Windward is no joke, and heck, you might even see Denzel Washington at the game, his youngest son, Malcolm Washington, is one of their best players. For a wonderful story on Jordan Salley, read below.
Tonight: CIF-SS Division V-A championship
Who: No. 1 L.A. Wiindward (24-6) vs. No. 2 La Verne Lutheran (24-6)
Where: Colony High School, 4:30 p.m.
By Clay Fowler, Staff Writer
Who knows what course Jordan Salley’s basketball career would have run had his mother not developed a cancerous brain tumor. He wouldn’t have been forced to transfer from La Puente’s Bishop Amat High School. He wouldn’t have had to adjust to a new team, a new coach and a new school in the midst of his sophomore season.
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Who knows what course Jordan Salley’s basketball career would have run had his mother not developed a cancerous brain tumor.
He wouldn’t have been forced to transfer from La Puente’s Bishop Amat High School.
He wouldn’t have had to adjust to a new team, a new coach and a new school in the midst of his sophomore season.
He likely wouldn’t have diversified his game, been whipped into the best shape of his life and become of a Division I college basketball prospect.
Tonight, the La Verne Lutheran High School junior will be showcased in his second consecutive CIF-Southern Section title game as the second-seeded Trojans try to repeat as champions when they take on No. 1 seed Windward of Los Angeles for the Division V-A title.
Salley hit the game-winning shot in last season’s CIF championship game. Then he made the game-preserving block. Needless to say, he has made the most of his time since arriving at La Verne Lutheran.
In early January 2008, the 6-foot-6 sophomore ambled into the presence of the first-year coach Eric Cooper as an overweight, back-to-the-basket post player. Not to mention, a downtrodden teenager whose mother had recently emerged from brain surgery with the right side of her body paralyzed.
Shelley Salley has made considerable progress. She had 90 percent of her tumor removed – had 100 percent been taken out, it likely would have paralyzed her completely. She has regained enough movement in her right side to walk with a cane.
“Jordan has been a trooper about the whole thing,” said Keenan Salley, Jordan’s father. “She had the tumor in the part of her brain that controls motor skills. But luckily the lord wasn’t ready to take her from us.”
With his mother unable to drive him to school, Jordan transferred closer to his Glendora home to save his father the hour and-a-half roundtrip to Bishop Amat.
Thanks to Cooper, Salley practically made up the difference on the track. He slimmed to a lean 225 pounds, added spring to an already impressive vertical leap and quickness to an already powerful post game. Salley’s presence is no small part of the reason 20 college scouts from the ACC to the Pac-10 visited La Verne Lutheran this year.
“If I would have stayed at Bishop Amat, I think I still could have played at a D-I school, probably just a smaller one,” Salley said. “Now I think I can play at a big basketball school.”
Salley has expanded his game beyond the back-to-the-basket style with which he arrived in La Verne. The plan, which is well under way, is to develop him into a small forward.
“When he came here I could tell he was athletic, but he was heavy and he didn’t have any moves, any work ethic,” Cooper said. “Now he can run a six-minute mile. This year he is facing up to the basket and next year he’ll be able to play the three (small forward).”
Though he was one of, if not the most important participant, Salley arrived late to the La Verne Lutheran party. When he joined the team last year, the Trojans were already 12-0. They finished the CIF-SS playoffs 28-0.
All this a year after winning seven games the season prior.
The Trojans (24-6) strengthened their nonleague schedule this season, but haven’t lost since December. Windward, which is riding a 14-game winning streak, can show Salley what a future Division I college basketball player looks like. It has three – at least.
Senior 6-10 center Anthony Stover has signed with UCLA; 6-4 point guard Darius Morris is committed to Michigan and Malcolm Washington, actor Denzel’s youngest son, is committed to the University of Pennsylvania.
Of course, it’ll be a while until any of the La Verne Lutheran prospects need to worry about college. Six freshmen and five sophomores dot the roster of which Salley is the elder statesman.
“We tell them that they never know, this might be their last opportunity for a championship,” Cooper said. “But the good thing is we basically have the same team coming back next year.
“And the year after that.”