By Al Corona - San Francisco News
During the past few months we've been asked that question over and over again until we have it practically coming out of our ears.
Take it from us, Fred LaCour is the greatest high school cager to be seen in the Bay Area since Hank Luisetti cavorted around these parts.
Many old timers believe it's a sacrilege to mention LaCour in the same breath as the immortal Luisetti, but even Hank, himself admits the youngest is truly a basketball phenom.
"LaCour is as good a high school player as I've ever seen," Luisetti praises. "I've never seen a youngster who can do so many things well as Fred. I have no doubt that even as a high school senior he could make a first-string varsity collegiate player on almost any university in the country."
And, Luisetti is only one of many recognized cage authorities who rate LaCour as one of the brightest prospects they have ever come across.
Howie Dallmar, current Stanford University cage mentor and former University of Pennsylvania coach, is another LaCour supporter.
Dallmar happened to be on hand when LaCour scored 41 points to pace his St. Ignatious ball club to a surprising victory over the Stanford Frosh.
"I couldn't believe my eyes," Dallmar recalls. "Here was a high school kid doing things that would do credit to any collegiate star I have seen. Up until I saw LaCour, I though Tom Gola of LaSalle was the greatest high school cager I had ever seen. After that Frosh game, however, I was forced to admit LaCour did everything Gola ever did and more."
"You have to see Fred every day to really appreciate him," Rene Herrerias, LaCour's coach at St. Ignatius, praised. "This kid is really a basketall genius. It's just a pleasure to see him play."
"Fred pick up things in a hurry. Even as a sophomore he knew, not only his place in every play, but the position of every other man on the team."
Herrerias still recalls when LaCour was a freshman. "He was just a skinny kid, but one look at him and you knew he was ticketed for stardom. He just did everything so smoothly."
LaCour, however, didn't actually prove his greatness rating until his final game as a sophomore. The Wildcats, who had won their first of three successive league crowns, were competing in the fnals of the Northern California Tournament of Champions against a Richmond team who had gone through 28 games undefeated.
After trailing most of the game, the favored Richmond ball club went ahead in the closing minutes only to have LaCour, then a substitute, get into the game and score three successive buckets to break Richmond's back and give SI the crown.
In his junior year, Herrerias' prophecy that LaCour would burn up the league came true - and then some. LaCour not only set a new seasonal scoring mark of 176 pints, but e also sparked St. Ignatius to its third straight crown. And, if it hadn't been for the fact that he broke his thumb in the first game of the Tournament of Champions and was unable to play thereafter, the Wildcats would also have won that crown.
This year LaCour broke the scoring mark he set last year in nine games in only eight. The youngster tallied 189 points and also set a new individual league scoring mark for a single game with 39 against Galilee, Luisetti's alma mater.
One of the greatest tributes to LaCour's all-around brilliance came after he had broken his thumb and was declared out of the remaining games of the Tournament of Champions.
Although the semi-final and final games remained to be played, many coaches from the outlying areas returned to their Northern Califronia homes because of the news that LaCour would be unable to play.
As one of the put it, "The only reason most of us came down here was to see LaCour play. We saw him last year and we just wanted to see him again it was such a pleasure to see him perform."
For his exploits this year, LaCour was awarded national recognition. Besides being named All-City and All Northern California Player of the Year, Fred was named to the first-string NEA All-American prep basketball team for '56 and was also given the same recognition in the Scholastic All-American high school team. He was also named to several other All-American clubs.
At present, LaCour still hasn't made up his mind as to which college he will attend. The scuttlebutt has his two leading choices as either University of San Francisco or Santa Clara.
He's a one-man team. At six-five and 18 years old, Fred needs only the extra weight that a few more years can put on. Once he gets that there'll be no stopping him in college.
Now does that help to explain why we sportswriters are so high on Lacour - or do we have to gather more proof ?
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