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Tomorrow night, Oakland High’s hardwood welcomes back Jabari Brown

on January 28, 2010

Jabari Brown has the range of a college player with a suave 22-foot lights-out. At 6’3” and 200 pounds, he’s built to play the game, and plenty of recruits across the country are looking at this Oakland High west coast star. Brown graduates with the class of 2011, and some ratings services rank him the No. 12 point guard in the nation for his class. “He adds scoring, obviously, a high basketball IQ, rebounding, and defensive pressure,” said his coach Orlando Watkins. “Everything a coach could ask for he brings to the table.”

But imagine watching the rest of the season with Brown parked on the sidelines. After a transfer from Nevada boarding school Findlay Prep over winter break, Brown’s eligibility to play in the Oakland section of the California Intramural Federation (CIF) was brought into question after his second game on January 6.

For three games, Brown and his parents waited on the bleachers for word to come down from the top. Finally, Michael Moore, the commissioner of the CIF’s Oakland section, ruled in favor of Brown. The decision seemed to appease everyone, Wildcat fans, CIF commissioners and coaches alike.  “He would be a welcome addition to any high school in the country,” said Moore. “Oakland High is glad that he’s home.”

Friday, Brown will finally feel at home on the hardwood of Oakland High when the Wildcats take on Oakland Tech, a relief after an uncomfortable ordeal that Moore says, after speaking with Brown and his family after last Friday night’s Wildcat victory, the young man took in stride. “He had zero attitude about the whole thing,” Moore recalled.

It began when the commissioner of the North Coast Section, Gil Lemmon, brought it to Moore’s attention that the Oakland Athletic League may have overlooked a technicality regarding Brown’s residency status. According to Lemmon, he took action to avoid a “domino of forfeitures,” which would wreck the entire season for the league by discrediting and perhaps eliminating one of the best teams in the league.

Brown transferred from Richmond’s Salesian High School to Findlay, near Las Vegas, after last summer. To transfer to and be eligible to play in the Bay Area again, Brown had to both change his residency status and file a hardship waiver, which allows students to make transfers when a situation arises that is beyond a student’s control. The family is not disclosing what reason compelled Brown to make his final transfer, but a waiver was submitted. Upon review of the waiver and approval from the CIF, the matter was cleared away.

Brown doesn’t come out completely unscathed. The commission is capping his season a couple of games short. Due to some funky math, the maximum amount of time Brown will see for the rest of the regular season is five games—though it looks as though the team, which currently sits at the top of the Oakland league, will ultimately make the postseason. High school boys in California are allowed to participate in 26 games during the regular season. With the two opening games already accounted for in Oakland, and 19 previously played at Findlay, Brown will have to miss two more games.


  1. d brown on February 11, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    thanks ms. lehman. you “get it” that sports are for kids too. i also like that you reflected the community support that that is still present in Oakland but is usually glossed over in favor of the sensational stories of double homicides and drugs busts that net dozens of evils people in a single sweep. please keep up the good writing.

  2. […] of a legitimate hardship case. Another section challenged Brown’s eligibility with the CIF, which subsequently ruled that Brown could play—and he did, after first sitting out a handful of games to stay below the OAL’s game play […]

  3. Teacher on May 17, 2010 at 5:40 pm

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