Column: There is no drought in Southland when it comes to future sports stars

If you cover sports in high school long enough, no matter where you live in America, there is a good chance that at least one athlete will reach the professional ranks.

An exception is Southern California, where there are so many future stars living among us that you can visit a T-ball course, swimming pool, gym, park, beach, golf course or football field to find unique talent.

No wonder predictions of greatness begin at age 5, gain momentum at age 10, gain momentum at age 13, then surreal life begins with working with college tenants, choosing a high school, choosing a private coach, learning about rankings and planning for the future.

As the 2021-22 high school sports season ends, fans in Southern California are happy because there is no drought in talent. The trajectory remains endless. COVID-19 posed unprecedented challenges. Some families left California, but many remained, while others could return.

Let’s take a look at what 2022-23 has to offer in terms of who we can watch:

  • Chatsworth’s Sierra Canyon and Alice Thompson of Studio City Harvard-Westlake are the best in the nation for their age – Watkins in basketball and Thompson in football. They are rare female athletes in high school who already have NIL deals. We will see and hear them on ESPN in the coming years. Thompson is committed to Stanford. Watkins will soon decide on college. They are adults with exceptional skills.
  • Malachi Nelson of Los Alamitos is the quarterback Lincoln Riley brought with him when he moved from Oklahoma to the USC. He will be a graduate who has remained in the same public school for all four years. He has the best collection of talents around him so far.
  • Elijah Brown of Santa Ana Mater Dei is entering his junior year and has never lost a game as a quarterback. As the turbulence continues to engulf the monarchs, Brown remains above the battle, moving into a tense school position that has led to three Heisman trophy winners.
  • Peyton Woodard of Bellflower St. John Bosco is a young defensive back who is expected to leave Southern California from seemingly any best college program. His character is out of the charts, his work ethic is unwavering and his understanding of how to treat others is a case of what happens in the world of selection when coaches see talent that suits the character.
  • Brady Smigil of Newbury Park is the new 6-foot-4-foot quarterback and the son of new head coach Joe Smigiel. It seems to be part of a phenomenon. Let’s see how this one will perform.
  • Armored James from the Sierra Canyon is entering his final year in basketball. Injuries over the past two years have prevented major leaps in development, although there have been glimpses of what may be. This is a key year to show where you can go on and off the court.
  • Gavin Grahovac from Villa Park will talk about baseball at a high school in Southern California. He is the best prospect, an incredible striker with strength and a friendly personality to make others like him. San Juan Capistrano coach JSerra Brett Kay called him “the best player on the planet.”
  • Rodrick Pleasant of Gardena Serra is the fastest teenager in California. He broke a 37-year-old state record by running 100 meters in 10.14 seconds. He also loves football. He is a cornerback and receiver who should electrify the rebound kicks this fall.
  • Dijon Stanley from Granada Hills has made his passion to show that you can be an athlete in the City section and attract attention. He was third in the state meeting at 400 with 47.51. He will take that speed and return to football management for the Highlanders. Scholarship offers are starting to pile up.
  • Ella Parker of Sherman Oaks Notre Dame is an Oklahoma softball player who is always good for a home run or two if an opponent ever decides to play against her. She has made 11 home runs this season. Her uncle is Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.
  • Twin brothers Leo and Lex Young of Newbury Park are long-distance runners who continue to chase the records set by their older brother Nico, who is fleeing to Northern Arizona. In their last year, anything will be possible.
  • Los Angeles-based Rex Maurer Loyola came close to setting a state record in the 500 freestyle as he won three Southern Section, Division I championships as a junior swimmer. Think of the future Olympian.

There are many more athletes who can be seen in water polo, volleyball, golf and lacrosse. Enjoy your summer vacation because the next school year has a chance to be fun and educational.

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