The stars left it all out on the floor at Staples Center on Saturday night.
Not stars like LeBron James — even though he was there. Rather, it was the stars of the future’s turn to step onto the hardwood in front of a crowd below shimmering purple-and-gold lights.
The Chosen-1’s Invitational, a basketball showcase event sponsored by James that featured four Nike Elite high schools from across the country , featuring the immense talents of the Chatsworth Sierra Canyon boys’ and girls’ programs.
The Trailblazer boys took down James' alma mater, Akron (Ohio) St. Vincent–St. Mary, 71-53, while the girls’ team rolled over New York Christ the King 69-52.
In front of NBA stars past and present — James, Zach Randolph, Metta World Peace, Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul all showed up at one point — the Trailblazers’ Bronny James and Juju Watkins dominated in their matchups.
Darting across the same court his father graces for Lakers home game, Bronny finished with an efficient 19 points on seven-of-11 shooting from the field, a variety of deep looks and crafty finishes in transition. With James clapping from courtside seats , Bronny drove Sierra Canyon to a big lead early thanks to a pair of catch-and-shoot threes in the first quarter and active defense that included drawing a charge.
“Felt special, playing in the same gym as he plays in,” Bronny said after the game.
Amari Bailey, Sierra Canyon’s five-star recruit and The Times’ reigning boys’ basketball player of the year, didn’t play Saturday and could be seen using crutches. Coach Andre Chevalier said he had an ankle sprain and would be week-to-week.
Bailey was out to start the season because of a foot injury but returned Wednesday night to score 23 points against Santa Clarita West Ranch. In his absence, a deep Trailblazers team stepped up. In addition to Bronny’s efforts came a dominant double-double — 17 points and 13 rebounds — from senior Shy Odom. Kijani Wright added 15 points and Ramel Lloyd scored 13.
As impressive as Sierra Canyon boys played, it was Watkins who won the evening. The hometown kid — Watkins is from Watts — attacked from the tip, drawing 18 free throws against Christ the King while finishing with 39 points. She nailed four three-pointers and notched multiple resounding blocks, dominating the floor against Christ the King.
“I knew I had to put on a show tonight, especially being back home,” Watkins said.
MacKenly Randolph, daughter of former NBA star Zach Randolph, contributed 15 points and eight rebounds.
The other Southern California program in the tournament, Fairfax, didn’t fare quite as well. The girls’ team lost 66-17 to St. Vincent-St. Mary, while the boys' team lost to Christ the King 51-42 in a gritty defensive battle.
LeBron and Juju Watkins sharing a moment postgame. pic.twitter.com/su3tY4AhET
— Luca Evans (@Lucae123) December 5, 2021
LeBron James is in the building at the Chosen-1’s invitational, now in the 3rd quarter of the Fairfax-Christ the King boys’ game. pic.twitter.com/XY7d79Nqxx
— Luca Evans (@Lucae123) December 5, 2021
Harvard-Westlake 79, Cajon 47: The Wolverines (8-0) won the Maranatha tournament. Cameron Thrower had 22 points in the win.
Rolling Hills Prep 60, Mira Costa 48: Tournament MVP Benny Gealer scored 19 points and had eight assists for 7-0 Rolling Hills Prep.
Etiwanda 61, Great Oak 37: The Eagles (6-0) received 14 points from Curtis Williams to win the IE Challenge.
Tesoro 73, Irvine University 33: Jake Bennett had 16 points and 17 rebounds for 8-0 Tesoro.
Westlake 60, Ventura 51: Marcus Lesser finished with 30 points for 6-2 Westlake.
Dominguez 72, Whittier Christian 48: Franklyn Chambers scored 41 points for Dominguez.
Santa Monica 57, University 47: Joshua Hecht had 16 points for Santa Monica.
Calabasas 79, La Quinta 61: Coach Jon Palarz won his 500th game. Gavin Murphy scored 27 points for the Coyotes.
Loyola 85, Bell Gardens 56: Parker Jones was tournament MVP as the Cubs won the El Rancho tournament. Vince Sampson scored 16 points.
Dana Hills 50, Servite 46: Tyler Small had 26 points for Servite.
Simeon 64, Mater Dei 50: In Chicago, Zack Davidson scored 25 points in the Monarchs' loss.
Northridge Academy 90, North Valley 25: Kenyon Alexander had 38 points.
Camarillo 55, Shafter 23: UCLA-bound Gabriela Jaquez scored 35 points for 9-0 Camarillo. She's having 31.3 points and 14 rebounds.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.