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All-star game selection raises questions

Fryer column: Jordan Hamamoto wasn't eligible to play this past season, but he has a spot in a showcase game.

OCVARSITY.COM

Jordan Hamamoto is, by all accounts, a fine young man. He has proven himself to be a fine basketball player, too, and made All-CIF his junior year at Western. Hamamoto, now a senior, has been selected to play in the OCO/Efusjon Orange County High School All-Star Basketball Games.

One problem: Jordan Hamamoto did not play high school basketball his senior year, the 2009-10 season.

Hamamoto was ruled athletically ineligible for this past season by the CIF-Southern Section. Hamamoto spent his freshman and sophomore years at Kennedy, transferred to Western for his junior year and made the required change of residence to be eligible for that junior year.

He moved back to his original residence within one calendar year of that first move, which made him ineligible under CIF-SS Rule 207 which covers transfer eligibility, and attempts at a hardship waiver at the CIF-SS level and an appeal at the CIF State level failed to recover Hamamoto's eligibility for his senior year.

Player selection for the all-star games this year is largely in the hands of Jesse James of the Orange Coast Optimists, the OCO in the title, which is part of the worldwide Optimist International service organization. James said the OCO has something of a wild-card position for the all-star games, and it filled that position with Hamamoto, who has played for the OCO's basketball program.

Marsha Hamamoto, Jordan's mother, is on the five-person OCO basketball committee. James is the father of three very good boys basketball players who have been at Marina the past few years — Garrett, JJ and Tyler — and two excellent girls players — Timerie and Shannon — who played at Rancho Alamitos when current Gahr of Cerritos boys coach Bob Becker was girls basketball coach at Rancho.

The county all-star games are May 8 at Concordia University where there will be a senior boys game and a senior girls game, and an elite underclassmen boys game and an elite underclassmen girls game. Marina coach Roger Holmes is coaching the North boys, for which Hamamoto will play.

Holmes does not know much else about the North roster. He was initially surprised that he is coaching the North.

"Marina has always been on the South," said Holmes, who retired from coaching at the end of this past season. "I said, 'Hey, guys, you have me coaching the North.' "

As for the player selection process for the games, which are 11 days away ...

"I have no idea," Holmes said. "I don't know who's on the team, I don't know any of that. I don't know what the criteria is."

Holmes coached the South in the county all-star games in 2000, when they were organized by the Kiwanis Club of Costa Mesa. Holmes recalled attending a dinner meeting with North coach Kevin Reynolds of Villa Park and Kiwanians to discuss potential all-star players.

"For the most part," Holmes said, "it was up to the coaches to pick the players, with recommendations from coaches who had nominated their guys."

Questionable selection of players to county all-star games has happened before.

A few years ago, Tesoro football player Scott McKnight was on the South in the county football all-star game, although he had played less than half of Tesoro's games when he was suspended from school. McKnight was clearly the best player on the field in that all-star game, which was stopped with a few minutes left in the fourth quarter because of fighting which was instigated by the ridiculous and poorly supervised antics of the South team during pregame introductions.

More recently, basketball player Drew Viney was booted off of the Villa Park team for disciplinary reasons, but he still was selected for the county all-star game and, to no surprise, played extremely well in the game.

When Magnolia coach Mike Anderson heard that Hamamoto made the North roster, and that Magnolia's Nate Williams had not, Anderson objected. Savanna and Magnolia are in the same league, the Orange League.

While Hamamoto did not play a single Orange League game, Williams played and played well enough to be named the 2009-10 Orange League player of the year. Anderson got on the phone Tuesday with James and another all-star game director, Mike Rangel of PlyoCity, and later that day Williams was added to the North roster.

"I was disappointed in the ethics of this," Anderson said. "This was an injustice to our kid, as it would be to any deserving kid."

James defends the selection of Hamamoto to the game.

"Jordan exemplifies our philosophy at OCO," James said. "Usually, when a kid becomes ineligible, he disappears, just goes away with a bad attitude. But Jordan stuck around with the team, he became their biggest cheerleader at every game, and did everything you'd want a kid to do."

Holmes has known Hamamoto for several years.

"He's a great kid," Holmes said. "I don't know what the circumstances are as to why he was not eligible to play this year. But that's kind of hard, to not play for a year and then be on the all-star team."

Let's make it easy. A player can be on an all-star team if the answer is "yes" to the following question: Did the athlete have an all-star year?

It does not seem that an athlete can have an all-star year when the athlete did not play that year.


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