Boys Basketball All-Area: La Verne Lutheran’s Grant Jerrett and Bonita’s Greg Eckler take top honors in 2012

All-Area story: Grant Jerrett arrived at tiny La Verne Lutheran High School four years ago hoping he had picked the right high school to attend.

Two state championships, a CIF-Southern Section title, an invite to play in the McDonald’s All-American game and a Gatorade California Player of the Year award later, and it’s pretty obvious Jerrett made the right choice. To continue click thread

Coach of the Year: At this point, very little that head coach Greg Eckler is able to do with the Bonita High School boys basketball program should come as a surprise.

But very few people can honestly say that back in November they saw the Bearcats’ 25-win, Hacienda League-championship season coming.

Bonita had to replace four starters, including the top two scorers, from 2010-11’s 26-win, league championship team. Duplicating such a strong performance would be nearly impossible.

Not with Eckler at the helm, though.

Player of the year: Grant Jerrett, La Verne Lutheran, Sr.
Coach of the year: Greg Eckler, Bonita
Forward: Chris Reyes, Damien, Sr.
Forward: Treavon Francis, Northview, Sr.
Forward: Garrett Horine, Bonita, Sr
Guard: Kyle Gordon, Glendora, Sr.
Guard: Eric Cooper Jr., La Verne Lutheran, Jr.

Forward: Kyle Maloof, Claremont, Sr.
Forward: McKay Anderson, La Verne Lutheran, Jr.
Forward: Primitivo Gomez, Arroyo, Jr.
Guard: Jared Dizon, Damien, Jr.
Guard: Mike Peters, Covina, Jr.

“At first, I didn’t want to go here because it was a really small school and I was used to public schools all my life,” Jerrett said. “But as each year went by, I started noticing how I improved in school and basketball. Every year that goes by, I realize that I made the right decision. I’m glad I chose to go here and I can honestly say I’m going to miss it.”

After averaging 22 points and 10 rebounds per game, leading his team to a 25-win season with deep runs in both the Southern Section and state playoffs, Jerrett is the Tribune’s Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.

“It’s an honoring award because it’s for my area and I get to represent my school and family,” said Jerrett, who lives in Chino Hills. “I think it’s a neat thing because not a lot of people get this opportunity and I’m grateful for it.”

Jerrett headlines a group of All-Area selections that had several worthy Player of the Year candidates in their own right.

Damien’s Chris Reyes averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds while leading his team to 26 wins and a perfect record in the Sierra League.

Northview’s Treavon Francis was one of the area’s top all-around players and helped the Vikings win 21 games and earn a share of the Valle Vista League title.

Things didn’t quite go according to plan for Glendora this season, but Kyle Gordon picked up the slack for injured teammates by averaging 18 points per game as the Tartans won 20 games.

Bonita’s Garrett Horine came out of nowhere to put together a dynamic season and earn himself Hacienda League MVP honors after leading the surprising Bearcats to a perfect record in league.

La Verne Lutheran’s Eric Cooper Jr. may have been the top guard in the area based on talent, but the Arizona-bound junior showed immense heart as well by not allowing a severely dislocated finger to shut him down. Cooper Jr. averaged 15 points per game.

But the season belonged to Jerrett, who finished his career as one of the most decorated players in local history and will continue his playing days at Arizona next season.

Up against a difficult regular-season schedule, Jerrett did not disappoint in the face of good competition. In wins over Pasadena and Etiwanda, which were two of the top teams in the Southland, Jerrett put up 22 and 27 points, respectively. Jerrett reached double figures in all but two of Lutheran’s 33 games this season.

“He did what he did but was the type to not call any attention to himself,” Lutheran head coach Eric Cooper said. “He could have been blown up way more if he had a different personality. It wasn’t always clear to everybody how good Grant was and it’s because he’s a mild-mannered guy.

“He’s really Clark Kent and not Superman. But then he turns into Superman and you didn’t realize he was Superman. It’s just different for him.”

Although Lutheran’s postseason efforts didn’t result in any championships, the Trojans still made deep runs in the playoffs.

Jerrett averaged 21.5 points per game in the Southern Section playoffs, but Lutheran fell in the championship game to Serra. In the state playoffs, Jerrett was nearly unstoppable but the Trojans’ season came to an end in the Southern California regional final with a one-point loss to Price.

“It hurts not winning a championship my last year,” Jerrett said. “Not just for me, but for my team. I’ll just use it as a tool to get me better. It’s unfortunate, but you can’t win every game.”

On July 1, Jerrett will arrive in Arizona to begin a collegiate career that could be one-and-done if he shines his freshman season and has NBA scouts drooling over his size and athleticism. To reach that point, he promises to put in the hard work that made his prep career one of the best ever by an area player.

“As you look back on all the things you’ve gone through – all the workouts, pain and suffering – then, getting all these rewards makes it all worth it,” Jerrett said. “They’re really big awards and I’m really grateful for them.”

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  • all league

    Fred, did the all league or all CIF teams ever get released. I do not recall seeing them.

  • FYI

    Congrats to all, but special congrats to Coach Greg Eckler @ BONITA. He does not recruit like some of the other listed schools. He must work with what he is given every season, and that usually involves mostly short-to-midsize, non-minorities. He TEACHES them how to play basketball his way and how to be a team. He is a noted disciplinarian and that’s not just on the basketball court. He DEMANDS good grades from his players and makes most of them sit on the front row of his History classes. He actually scares some of the incoming freshman and their parents, but the only thing they have to fear is any lack of effort. He doesn’t look like a typical basketball coach and he could care less about media attention. He always plays his hand close to the vest and that annoys the media and those who wonder why he doesn’t report to MaxPreps. He preaches TEAM and his players are usually in better shape than their opponents; they have to be. The SGVT article about him says it all: 10 years coaching & 10 years in the playoffs, 7 league titles and more importantly, the admiration and respect of every player that has played for him. Parents appreciate how much he turns young boys into young men. This award is a long time coming and although the Coach doesn’t care, those of us who have watched him for years are happy when the elusive coach gets his day. Good job, again, Coach.

  • George Dorhmann

    Aram – that was such an irresponsible (and inaccurate) statement to make. T actually write:
    “begin a collegiate career that could be one-and-done if he shines his freshman season and has NBA scouts drooling over his size and athleticism.”
    Is waaay off base. Jerrett is no where CLOSE to being a one-and-done kind of player and “size and athleticism” is far from his attributes. For his size he needs to be MORE athletic – or for his athleticism he better be taller.
    Great HS player, will be a good college player – in time – but far from a year away. It’s people that write, or say, things like that which has helped put the state of youth/HS basketball in the mess which it is in.

  • Archer

    Posting the girls team might help….

  • Bfan

    Kudos to Eckler but he has already proven he is a good coach and has already gone far in CIF. I belive Will Bissman from Covina should have received more consideration as he also had to work with neighborhood kids and does not recruit. He took the Colts farther than they have been since the early 90’s .No problem with Eckler winning but I just hope Bissman got strong consideration. IMO