By John Gustafson
Reprinted from ESPN The Magazine
During the West Coast portion of his national "Scholastic Fantastic" tour, LeBron James managed to do something Saturday that even UCLA struggles to do these days: Sell out Pauley Pavilion.
The four high school games that comprised the Dinos Pangos Dream Classic held in the "House That Wooden Built" had plenty to offer the avid prep fan.
First, Justin Hawkins, who is headed to Utah, led Mayfair past Kansas-bound Omar Wilkes' (son of former Bruin and Laker Jamaal) Loyola squad in the opener. Then super smooth junior, "Straight A's" Arron Afflalo dropped 42 for (Compton) Centennial before losing in double overtime to Carson and the L.A. area's best senior, Ekene Ibekwe.
The nightcap matchup featured two of the nation's top juniors in Brooklyn's (Lincoln) Sebastian Telfair and Oaktown's (Vallejo) DeMarcus Nelson.
But the main reason the fans packed Pauley on a beautiful eighty-degree SoCal day was King James.
The word is out, to put it mildly, that James may be the best prep to ever come down the high school basketball pipe. Back home in Ohio, eight of the 6-foot-8-inch future No. 1 pick's games are on pay-per-view and James was so impressive in his national TV debut against Oak Hill on ESPN2 in December that the Worldwide Leader in Sports came back for second helpings Saturday night.
James has more than lived up to the hype, so much that it begs the questions: what took the national media so long to catch on and why do people still doubt the kid's skills? James has been killing opponents since he was a sophomore, absolutely owning guys on all levels.
Much was made of Carmelo Anthony's performance against James last year, but those is in attendance will tell you it was no contest -- James was clearly the best player on the floor. So-called experts wanted to take a flyer on the guy, a wait-until-I-see-it-with-my-own-eyes. Well, now, with LeBron's national tour in full force, his greatness is evident.
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