Words by Justin Walsh
Cezar Guerrero is one persistent, unrelenting guard. Call him cocky, call him headstrong, call him what you want, but stubborn might be the most appropriate. “Every single time, every single game, they always feel like if they go at me they get to make shine for themselves, but I won’t let them; I’m too stubborn, too hard headed and too hard-nosed. They’ll never get a game against me, I am too competitive.”
Beyond the constant doses of his opponents’ best, Cezar faces constant, unrelenting criticism. Opposing teams start rumors that he must be two years older than anybody else on the court. Past jealous teammates have Isiah-to-Jordan style frozen him out when he plays the off guard. Basketball fans question his potential, noting that he doesn’t fit the usual qualifications for their eyes.
What qualifications? He’s a young guard with court vision, perfect shot form and effortless handle. He dropped 20 on Mater Dei as a freshman on varsity for St. John Bosco HS. Cezar was the only freshman to start on varsity that SJB coach Chris Madigan has ever had the privilege to coach in 20 years.
Cezar transferred after his initial campaign, to be a part of the William Workman HS squad, with his brother Joe as an assistant. As a sophomore he scored 27.4 ppg on varsity for Workman HS. In that season he had scoring totals of 41 once, 39 once, 38 once, 37 twice. All in all he dropped 30+ 10 times. He was in double figures for points every game of the season. Oh, but his ethnicity doesn’t work.
Ah, thought that might come up. Regardless of people promising with extreme fervor that they have no racial bias, let’s be honest—when you see Cezar, you might have a problem at first saying he could be one of the best guards in the country. Some might shy away from the racial aspect, but Cezar doesn’t. He embraces it proudly, as he should.
The Mexican National Team contacted Cezar’s brother Joe (a solid basketball player in his own right) about making CG an addition to the program down the road. This was during his freshman campaign. I asked CG about a year back whether he would play for their National Team later down the road. “It would be a great honor to represent my race, all the Mexicans out there. I am proud of my heritage, it would be such an honor to play for their team.”
Recently, scouts have been showing CG more love. Here’s an excerpt of some of the lines dropped by top scouts:
His length is solid for the “one”, but it’s his speed and quickness that separates him from most point guards his age. He is an absolute blur in the open court and yet has the ability to stop on a dime and nail the pull-up jump shot.
He is amazingly quick with the basketball and can either blow by opponents for the score or pull-up and hit the mid-range jump shot. He needs to work on his decision-making (tends to force it), but he’s one of the more impressive freshman guards I’ve witnessed in the last 15 years.
He was a prolific scorer for his high school team this past season but has seemed to be looking to become more of a “true point guard” on the traveling team circuit this spring. Guerrero’s release and form on his jump shot are spot-on, with his range easily to the three-point line. He’s got high-level speed with the ball but needs to govern his acceleration at times and not force action quite as frequently.
This summer, Cezar has been lighting it up for Belmont Shore, coached by AAU sage Dinos Trigonis. He recently just finished up play at the Pangos All-American Camp (He was injured, so ‘that dude’ Aggrey Sam didn’t get the full effect) and is ranked 30th in the country for the class of 2011 by HoopScoop.
In recent past, guards of his mold (the flashy, stubborn, extremely talented guard) have had trouble injecting their skill set into a structured offense (Carlos Arroyo anyone?). Most of these occurrences have been chalked up to ‘too much pick up ball, not enough intense practice’. Cezar and Joe have made a point to sidestep that situation.
When Cezar’s grades aren’t satisfactory, he can’t play. When he goes to the gym, he doesn’t play pick up games. Adopting a Kevin Durant workout philosophy, Cezar makes sure to focus on the fundamentals and nuances of basketball. All the while, Joe makes sure to put constant rough contact on his younger brother to ensure he can handle it in games. Cezar is pushed, shoved, slapped and throttled on the hardwood in their (in his own words) makeshift “dungeon.” He takes pride in his obsessive work habits. Every time he humiliates a defender, he is reminded of his practice and of their lack of preparation. Like all prolific guards, he makes a point to exploit that.