10:30 a.m., April 16
Dee pouring in points for Rancho Buena Vista
Longhorns guard averaging more than 30 points a game
VISTA – As quick as Johnny Dee is on the court, his transformation to prolific scorer this season has been even quicker. The senior is averaging more than 30 points a game for the fifth-ranked Longhorns, one of the section’s surprise teams in 2010-11.
“It was working in the offseason,” Dee said. “When you build your quickness up you gain confidence, and once you believe you can score it makes everything else easy.”
Dee played varsity at Rancho Buena Vista as a sophomore before moving to Kansas for his junior year. Back in California before his senior season, Dee spent this past offseason on the court and in the gym – building his game and scorer mentality.
“I have the confidence in myself that I think I can score on anyone guarding me and you have to have that confidence to be a scorer,” Dee said. “If I get a good crossover dribble or a step back, I can get my shot off.”
Dee has topped the 40-point mark five times this season and has accounted for 41 percent of Rancho Buena Vista’s points. The senior’s averages have come down a bit in Avocado West League play as opponents have began to double-team him.
“It has been harder because I have had to take a quicker shot,” Dee said. “I’m going to have to be a little more patient and let the double come to me – instead of forcing a shot – and look for the open guy.”
Along with junior point guard Anthony Alston and 7-foot senior center Joey Vaz, Dee makes up the core of a Longhorns team enjoying its best season since 2006-07. Rancho Buena Vista’s push for a league title intensifies this week, as they host No. 6 El Camino tonight and No. 2 La Costa Canyon on Friday.
“We want to win league and we think we have a legitimate chance to win league,” Dee said. “We have our championship week coming up and if we can take both of those games we have a good chance of and putting a banner up.”
In addition to quickness and deep shooting range, the 5’11” Dee scores with a variety of different inside shots. He said his favorite scoring play is a between-the-legs step back jump shot in transition.
“It’s not my athleticism and it’s not my height,” Dee said. “I can hit shots with people’s hands in my face and that’s why I score all those points.”
Unlike most scorers, Dee also relishes starring on the other end of the court. His fondness for defense grew in his season in Kansas, where games are played without a shot clock.
“One of the best parts about basketball is getting in someone’s face and locking them down,” Dee said. “I don’t always guard the best scorer, but even help defense is fun – it’s the perfect opportunity to either get a charge or a steal for an easy layup.”
Dee’s skills play out similarly to former Escondido guard Joe Hudson, currently in his first season at Wyoming. Dee and Hudson are friends and were club teammates with Gamepoint Basketball.
“We’re both good shooters,” Dee said. “He is a little bit more athletic than me but we do play similar in that we’re relentless on the court.”
Though one of the best scorers in the section, Dee might not even be the best athlete in his own family. His father played in the National Football League for two seasons, his mother ran cross country in college, his grandfather played on the 1968 U.S. Olympic basketball team and his sister is a sophomore starter on Rancho Buena Vista’s girls team.
“I don’t think I’m the best athlete in my family, but that’s alright with me,” Dee said.
Dee hopes to improve his playmaking ability to be able to play point guard at the next level. He hasn’t received any offers yet but said he is interested in Santa Clara, Hawaii, Davidson, UC San Diego and USD.
“What he brings to our team is leadership on the court and an enthusiasm for getting after the ball that is contagious with everybody else,” said Rancho Buena Vista coach Terry Miller. “That has been the biggest plus.”