The sharpshooting 7-footer from the Milwaukee Bucks and graduate from Fresno’s San Joaquin Memorial High will be the only Californian on the USA senior men’s national team that will try to win its third straight FIBA world title. The event starts Sunday in China. Wagering on the games should be strong but NBA betting online is always fun. Go inside as well to see the names of the only two players from California high schools who’ve been all-tourney at the FIBA World Cup event.
When people ask what a high school team might look like with three future NBA players on the floor, the first thoughts of many around the state are of Fresno’s San Joaquin Memorial High from 2004 to 2006. That’s when the Panthers had brothers Brook and Robin Lopez on the inside and they had a forward, Quincy Pondexter, who was able to operate on the wings at a height of 6-foot-7.
All three would indeed go on to star in college — the Lopez brothers at Stanford and Pondexter at Washington — and all three have had fairly long NBA careers. Brook Lopez has been the best and hopes to add another accomplishment to his resume in September when he will be on the USA men’s national team at the FIBA World Cup to be played in China.
Brook and the USA squad play its first game on Sunday, Sept. 1, against the Czech Republic. The Americans will have additional Group E contests against Turkey and Japan and assuming they go 3-0 would then start the knockout round of 16. The US squad, with head coach Gregg Popovich and Palisades of Pacific Palisades grad Steve Kerr as one of the assistants, has won the last two FIBA World Cups in 2014 and 2010, but with just about all of the top-level NBA superstars not on the roster (instead resting for the upcoming NBA season) it’s certainly no guarantee of a three-peat. The USA just had a 78-game win streak in international regulation and exhibition games end with a loss to Australia. Many NBA superstars from other countries, like Giannis Antetokounmpo of Greece, also are playing for their national teams.
Lopez, his brother and Pondexter amazingly never got to a CIF state championship game even though the Panthers were in Division IV those years. They didn’t have a point guard and as juniors they ran into unbeaten Campbell Hall of North Hollywood (which had freshman Jrue Holiday, junior Justin Holiday and others) and then as seniors they fell in the Southern California final to Horizon of San Diego. Horizon also had a future NBA player on its roster in 6-foot-10 sophomore center Jeff Withy. The brothers tended to cancel each other out for honors, which let Pondexter get more points. All three did receive all-state selections.
Lopez has averaged 17.3 ppg in his pro career with his most explosive years as a member of the New Jersey/then later Brooklyn Nets. He averaged 12.5 points with 4.9 rebounds and 1.2 assists playing the Antetokounpo and the Milwaukee Bucks last season. He’ll be with the Bucks once again for the 2019-20 season.
There have been just two from California high schools who have earned all-tourney honors at the FIBA World Cup, which began in 1950. The first one was in that first year as John Stanich from Sacramento High was one of the top US players. John actually later played at UCLA with younger brother George on one of the first teams coached at UCLA by the legendary John Wooden. The Bruins and California landed another on the All-FIBA World Cup team in 1994 when one of the top players for the victorious USA team was Reggie Miller of the Indiana Pacers. Reggie is from Poly High in Riverside and of course is one of the all-time best players from the state. It’s unfortunate that his sister, Cheryl, never got to be in a FIBA World Cup for women because that event has only been going on since 1994.