Sports

James Burns: Prophete's journey sets stage for hoop drama

James Burns

He strolled into Cougar Arena a wandering Prophete -- a basketball star with a travel bag full of talent and commitment issues.

But before we could even warm up to the area's Next Best Prep or wrap our heads around his unique first name...

Poof!

He was gone.

A wandering Prophete had turned into a Crusader.

A Modesto Christian Crusader, at that.

There isn't much more we can say about journeyman point guard Liautaud Prophete, whose stay with the Golden Valley boys basketball team was exciting, frustrating and over much too soon.

Officially, Golden Valley was stop No. 3 in three years on the Prophete family's continental basketball tour.

To be fair, Prophete had hoped it would be his last.

He loved playing in Keith Hunter's wide-open, see-it-shoot-it offense.

He still speaks glowingly about former teammates John Sykes, Alex Fletcher and Donte Scott.

And he even embraced the challenge of trying to replace Chris Randle, Golden Valley's high profile two-sport star.

But a series of real-life circumstances forced the Prophete family to make an all-too-familiar call.

It was time to move.

Again.

This time to Los Banos, so his father Lia Sr., an on-call doctor, could be closer to work.

The family then decided to enroll Prophete at Modesto Christian -- a private school an hour north of the city limits -- rather than Los Banos.

Stop No. 4.

"It was tough at first. I didn't want to leave," Prophete said. "But then I started thinking about the opportunity I would have.

"Way more college coaches come and watch us play. That's what I'm looking for. I want to further my career, so that's what I needed."

Prophete will reenter our lives today when Modesto Christian takes on Merced in the first round of the Crusader Classic in Salida.

Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m.

As far as updates go, Prophete is happy, semi-healthy and excited about the new season.

He's an MC basketball prince now, through and through, all decked out in red and midnight blue.

But his ties to Merced County still linger, making tonight's game all the more special for the senior.

For starters, Prophete wears a reminder of the 2007-2008 season around his right knee -- a light brace protecting the tendon he nearly snapped in January.

Prophete dislocated the patella tendon in a collision under the bucket, forcing him out of the final four games of the season.

"I'm working to get back to where I was last year. My leg's not all there yet, but it's getting there," Prophete said.

"I'll be good (tonight). I'm ready for this tournament."

Which brings us tonight's task: shutting down Merced and University of Pacific-bound senior guard Allen Huddleston.

You see, the Golden Valley-Merced rivalry still brings Prophete's blood to a slow boil.

He wanted desperately to prove himself against Huddleston a season ago.

However, foul trouble strapped him to the bench in the first game.

Then he was scratched from the rematch with his knee injury.

"To some degree, I still consider Merced a rival," Prophete added. "There are people that say there are players on that team better than me."

Huddleston?

"Yeah, Allen. People go back and forth saying: 'He's better than you, or you're better than him.'

"He's supposed to be the best player in town, supposedly, so, yeah...

"I look at it like a challenge. I love challenges."

Prophete is at Modesto Christian now -- miles and months removed from Golden Valley.

But for one night, the Wandering Prophete will stroll back into our lives, hoping to settle an old score with a familiar foe.

James Burns is sports editor of the Sun-Star. He can be reached at jburns@mercedsun-star.com.

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