The 19th annual War on the Floor boys basketball tournament starts today and has long been considered the unofficial start to the summer season.
The tournament always showcases some of the area's best talent and newcomers, coaches included.
The tournament has a rich history of former players that went on to college and professional stardom.
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Cleveland's Nick Young (L.A. Lakers, USC), Taft's Jordan Farmar (L.A. Lakers, UCLA), Campbell Hall's Jrue Holiday (New Orleans Hornets, UCLA) and Grant's Gilbert Arenas (Washington Wizards, Arizona) are just a few of the famous stars that participated.
This year's sites include El Camino Real, Calabasas and Heritage Christian. Pool-play Games start at 9 a.m. today at ECR and Heritage Christian with Calabasas slated for a 5 p.m. start.
Friday's games begin at 9 a.m. at ECR and Heritage Christian, and Calabasas starts at 2 p.m.
Calabasas will be the sole site Saturday and Sunday, the quarterfinals and semifinals on Saturday, with the championship game scheduled for 6 p.m. Sunday.
WHO TO WATCH FORSeveral established players and several newcomers are ready to make their presence felt in the four-day, 32-team tournament.
Poly's Cesar Reyes is a top 3-point shooter, Calabasas' Justin Bessard is much improved, Div. IV-AA finalist Oaks Christian features the quartet of K.J. Smith, Tyler Harris, Ryan Hiepler and Austen Moye, Viewpoint's Christian Juzang is receiving college interest, Verdugo Hills returns power forward Adrian Gutierrez, St. Genevieve has three good juniors in Ross Lee, D.J. Walker and Marcel Burton, and Crespi is deep with Mike Krkeyan, De'Anthony Melton and Mitchell Mykhaylov.
Crespi also features the deepest talent of incoming freshmen. The Celts are expected to give heavy minutes to Brandon Williams, Taj Regans, Anthony Booker and Eric Yenney.
NEW COACHES EVERYWHEREThe tournament will also showcase new coaches for a plethora of teams.
Former Notre Dame coach Bill Bedgood will guide Saugus, Richard Hill has taken over at Oaks Christian for Ajene Moye, former Camarillo girls coach Michaeltorre Smith is now heading the boys program, former A.G.B.U./Pasadena coach Richard Harris is the new coach at Malibu, former Campbell Hall and Taft assistant Paul Tait is the coach at Heritage Christian, Dax Grooms takes over for Scott Switalla at Chatsworth, Conley Olive goes from girls to boys at Agoura and Jared Levin takes the reigns from former Campbell Hall standout James Snodgrass at Marshall.
NEW LOOKS AND NEW NEW FACESLast year's champion El Camino Real will be hard pressed to repeat without graduated seniors Julian Richardson, Maleke Haynes, Evan Wardlow and Blair Orr.
The Conquistadores beat Sierra Canyon in a Time Warner cable televised final at Pierce College.
The victory jump started a campaign that ended with the school's first City Section Div. I championship after a victory against Westchester in March.
ECR is basically starting over, but has a solid foundation with Chris Terry and Bryon Russell, Jr.
Nick Heller, a sophomore from Agoura, has transferred in as well.
In addition to Bessard and former Reseda standout Conner Longmire at Calabasas, the Coyotes welcome two newcomers, Ryan Ducar and Cameron Glassen, both from Notre Dame.