When Kalib LaCount enrolled at King/Drew High, his father, Frank, had started working at the school to take care of campus buildings and grounds. He wasn’t a big fan of his Dad being able to see what he was doing every day at school.
“I didn’t want it,” LaCount said. “They’re really going to be watching me. Anything I do they’re going to tell him.”
Soon LaCount discovered a big perk to having your father at school. He had keys to the gym.
“Oh, yes. I’m in there all time,” he said.
That extra gym time has helped make the 5-foot-9 LaCount stand out as the best basketball player in the City Section so far this season. At least his coach, Lloyd Webster, says so.
“I’ve never coached a player this small that has this much of an impact on a game,” Webster said. “He’s by far the best player in the City that I’ve seen.”
Last season he scored a school-record 53 points against Arcadia. This season he scored 38 and 41 points in consecutive games en route to MVP honors at the Huntington Park tournament. He’s averaging 28.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists for King/Drew (9-8).
He’s friends with some big-time players, such as former L.A. Windward guard Dylan Andrews, who is headed to UCLA, Chatsworth Sierra Canyon guard Mike Price, Corona Centennial guard Jared McCain and Playa del Rey St. Bernard guard Tyler Rolison. He worked out with Andrews during COVID-19 restrictions, helping him improve his game.
“I’ll go at every single one of them,” LaCount said.
If LaCount has a chip on his shoulder, it’s because people still question how far he can go because of his stature. He embraces the underdog mentality.
“I like being the underdog,” he said. “I like proving people wrong. It’s fuel for the fire. I just make myself known. In between the lines, it doesn’t matter about size. It’s about heart and if you believe in yourself. I play like I’m 7 feet. It doesn’t get to me. You can talk about height all you want. You still have to stop me from scoring.”
Webster said LaCount has become more effective by becoming more aware of when to speed up or slow down in the middle of action.
“I used to rush,” LaCount said. “I was always one speed. My team is very young right now. I had older teammates before. I didn’t have to do much. I changed my game. I had to be way more patient. It made me better as a player.”
His younger brother, Jacob, is a 6-foot junior guard at King/Drew. There’s a little jealousy.
“Yes, he got all the height,” LaCount said.
But when it comes to family one-on-one games, LaCount said, “Any day, he knows he can’t beat me.”
It’s a wide open City Section this season. King/Drew has been a consistent title contender in recent years, making the semifinals. With LaCount leading the way, King/Drew certainly should be in the conversation as a potential high seed for next month’s playoffs.
“We have no excuses,” he said. “We have opportunities.”
It turns out that for LaCount, a senior, having his father around for four years has turned out to be a blessing.
He has asked for plenty of lunch money and gym time, so a few hugs for his dad after winning games in the playoffs might be a good payback gesture.