Canzano: Emptying my notebook on Bronny James, broadcasting and QBs
Some quick thoughts for you.
My notebook is full. It’s a good time for one of my quick-hitting, bullet-point columns.
Away we go:
• Nobody knows the Southern California sports scene of the last four decades better than Eric Sondheimer of The Los Angeles Times. He’s covered amazing high school players such as Darryl Strawberry, John Elway, Steve Kerr, and so many others who have gone on to professional success.
I was curious about LeBron James Jr. The Sierra Canyon High star has expressed interest in playing for Dana Altman at Oregon. Also, maybe going to USC or Ohio State. I called on Sondheimer to get some answers. I trust the guy’s judgment immensely.
Is the circus that surrounds “Bronny” worth it? Is the four-star player really that talented? What does Sondheimer think?
“He’s not made himself available (to media),” Sondheimer said. “You can talk to the teammates and they say he’s a good kid. The coach says he’s a good kid. That’s important. But you never know until the circus arrives. You have to deal with all the things that happen. He’s had a bodyguard since his freshman year. He’d probably fit in at Oregon, but you don’t know what would come with that… it’s hard to say who is really recruiting him and who is interested in him.”
• I asked Sondheimer if Bronny James would have been a McDonald’s All-American if he weren’t LeBron’s son.
He said: “That McDonald’s game has long ago stopped being about the players who really truly deserve it. It’s based on the summer. It’s based on the previous year’s performance. It has nothing to do with senior year. I’m not one of those who are going to make a big deal about it, but there are others probably a little more deserving. He’ll do fine in the game if he’s healthy.”
• West Linn High star Jackson Shelstad is already committed to Oregon. Shelstad outplayed LeBron James Jr. in this year’s Les Schwab Invitational tournament, winning the tournament MVP.
• I spoke with long-time Oregon Ducks broadcaster Jerry Allen this week for a candid interview that’s well worth your time. Allen talked about his growth as an announcer, his deep connection with listeners, and got emotional during the interview.
We talked about the late Blazers broadcaster Bill Schonely.
“I don’t have a catch phrase. I don’t have anything,” Allen said. “The Schonz was great for ‘Rip City!!’ and I’d hear him say that and always thought, ‘Gosh, I should have something like that.’ I just felt if it didn’t come out naturally, it wasn’t real. So I never did.”
I dunno, Jerry.
“Kenny Wheaton’s gonna score!!” is pretty good.
• Oregon State broadcaster Mike Parker also joined me for a 1-on-1 conversation this week. Parker was fantastic. It was a great talk. I loved him talking about the relationship he has with fans who tune in.
“When it comes to big moments, I try to rise to the occasion,” Parker said. “Sometimes I think I hit it.”
Parker is underselling himself here. He’s golden on the mic in big moments.
• Who is your favorite current broadcaster? Tell me in the comment section.
• I still find myself thinking about legendary Trail Blazers broadcaster Bill Schonely. I last saw him a couple of weeks ago. I wrote a column about that final visit after his death last Saturday. I heard a wonderful story about ‘The Schonz’ from the team statistician from the 1977 championship season, Jeff Wohler.
The Trail Blazers won Game 5 of the NBA Finals on the road in Philadelphia. The team plane landed in the middle of the night at the airport. Fans were so excited, they lined the fence by the tarmac, welcoming the coaches and players home.
Schonely happened to be seated in Row 5, window seat, on the plane. He had two sportswriters seated beside him. He looked outside, saw the buzzing crowd and couldn’t help himself.
“As soon as that plane stopped, Schonley just hurdled over them and got up there to the door so he could be the first one out,” Wohler said. “He loved it. The crowd just roared. He was the face of the franchise then… there was Schonz and everybody just loved it.”
Listen to Wohler here:
• Washington State coach Jake Dickert received a one-year contract extension this week. His contract now runs through 2027. Dickert went 7-6 last season. He’s done a nice job of stabilizing the WSU program, particularly in the wake of all that Nick Rolovich drama.
Dickert, 39, just finished the first season of a five-year, $13.5 million contract. He received a $25,000 bonus last season for getting seven wins and making a bowl game.
• I spoke with former Washington State great Ryan Leaf on Wednesday in an interview. We talked a little about the quarterbacks returning to the Pac-12 next season. Leaf compared it to the run of great QBs in the late 1990s in the conference.
“This is going to be a fun year. It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Leaf said. “It’s going to be really competitive. You’ve got the reigning Heisman winner, who may not have even been the best quarterback in the Pac-12 last year. Michael Penix Jr. certainly could have argued for that. Bo Nix, if he stayed healthy… it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
• An all-new episode of “Canzano & Wilner: The Podcast” is out. My friend Jon Wilner and I talk about the Pac-12 accounting fiasco and more.
• I have great love for Steven Spielberg’s movies. I can’t get in the ocean, for example, without thinking about “Jaws” and can’t imagine actor Harrison Ford as anyone other than Indiana Jones. I finally got a chance to see “The Fabelmans” this week. It’s Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical story and an absolute gem.
Go see it if you haven’t already.
• Blazers guard Damian Lillard made scoring 60 points look really easy on Wednesday night in a win over the Jazz. Lillard was historically efficient, shooting 72 percent from the field (21 of 29). It was a remarkable performance.
• I was not surprised that Lillard went nuts. It came just two days after Lakers guard Patrick Beverley mocked Lillard, making fun of his “Dame Time” celebration in a Lakers win. Beverley tapped on his wrist and pretended his watch was broken, so he took it off and shoved it in his pocket.
• The Lakers play at Portland on Feb. 13.
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Had the good fortune and timing to help bring Parker to OSU from his Portland taxi-driving days and its been a home run since....replacing a Darrell Aune would be tough for most, but they are like comparing ripe, perfect apples and oranges. Just two successful PBP announcers in 50 years for OSU's radio coverage---pretty amazing! Also enjoyed working with Jerry Allen going back to his KYJC days in Medford when I was at Southern Oregon prior to OSU. You won't find a better, more genuine person than Jerry and his run stopped a turnstile of predecessors at UO. Nice job on both interviews, John!!
I can confirm the Schonely bounding off the plane story. Back then the teams still all flew commercial, and people who weren't flying were allowed past security. My dad worked for United and was the guy who met that flight that night and pulled the jetway up. The gate area was a zoo with all the fans. They barely got the plane door open and Schonely burst off the plane and rushed up the jetway. A couple of the Blazers, I want to say Larry Steele and Dave Twardzik heard what was going on up in the gate area and asked my dad if it was alright if they just hung out in the jetway for awhile. My dad told them no problem and they waited until the crowd followed everyone else back up the concourse and then slipped out.