Sunday, July 25, 2010 | 2:07 a.m.
Amir Garrett was taking a breather on the bench Friday as teammates on his Belmont Shores summer basketball team perfectly executed a fast break midway through the first half of a double-digit victory against Team Detroit in the Las Vegas Fab 48 at Bishop Gorman High.
When the fast break resulted in an easy dunk, Garrett stood in excitement, slapped a chair and yelled, “Let’s go” in an attempt to motivate teammates. Seconds later, when the team was on defense, Garrett was still standing and shouting, “Defense, defense.”
Garrett, a 6-foot-5 rising senior swingman with scholarship offers from the likes of Arizona State, Arizona and Oregon, will be the newest member of high school power Findlay Prep in the fall. Findlay Prep, which is housed in Henderson, has lost only three games in the last three years and has won consecutive ESPN RISE national titles.
A transfer from Leuzinger High in Lawndale, Calif., Garrett’s performance — on and off the court — in a simple summer game showed exactly why Findlay coach Mike Peck thinks he’ll be a perfect fit with the Pilots.
The left-handed Garrett finished with 15 points, converting on several strong moves to basket, including bringing the crowd to its feet with an electrifying windmill dunk in transition near the end of the first half.
On the possession after the dunk, Garrett’s found himself alone on the break and appeared headed for another highlight-reel style dunk. But he passed the ball off the backboard for a running teammate, who hammered home a dunk for a 43-28 lead.
“His motor is always going,” said Peck, who sat in the front row for the game. “For us, in our system, you always have to be on the move.”
Garrett is no stranger to the local basketball scene. He played his freshman and sophomore years at Sierra Vista High in Southwest Las Vegas before transferring to Leuzinger High for better competition, said Darrow Garrett, his father.
Amir Garrett’s stock has skyrocketed since leaving Las Vegas. He averaged 16.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game last spring for Leuzinger High and is rated as the No. 65 overall prospect for the class of 2011 by recruiting Website Rivals.com.
He’s gone from being one of the most notable players in Las Vegas to a top recruit nationally in a little more than one year.
“It was just one of those things were I started to mature and learn the game better,” Garrett said. “I started letting the game come to me.”
Garrett cemented his status as one of nation’s top recruits last month at the NBA Players Association Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, Va. Just being invited to the prestigious showcase is an accomplishment, but Belmont Shore coach of Dinos Trigonis said Garrett was one of the camp’s top performers.
“He’s really improved a lot in the last year,” Trigonis said. “He’s gotten himself into some situations where he was able to flourish.”
Garrett, as witnessed by his performance in the Las Vegas Fab 48, is fearless when taking the ball to the basket and has a solid outside shot. He also had several impressive passes to fast-breaking teammates in Belmont Shores’ up-tempo offense.
“I’m always looking to get my teammates involved in the game early,” Garrett said. “That gets their confidence up.”
While it appears Garrett could be on his way to a future in basketball, his best opportunity to play professional could be in baseball. A pitcher, he was an elite youth player growing up in Las Vegas — he played on the same club team as top-pick Bryce Harper.
Garrett posted a 9-2 record last summer with Sierra Vista’s American Legion affiliate, his father said. He’ll continue playing baseball while at Findlay, driving to the Los Angeles area frequently in the fall to play in a scout-league hosted by the New York Yankees.
Darrow Garrett said his son is regularly clocked in the low 90s, and has a curveball and change-up in his pitch arsenal. He is encouraging his son to continue playing both sports at a high level.
“He’s going to keep his options open,” Darrow Garrett said. “He’s done too much in baseball to just stop playing.”