Multiple Teams · Los Altos’ 7-foot sophomore Jazz Gardner is tearing it up just a week into the season

By Fred Robledo ~ SGV Tribune

When Los Altos basketball standout Jarod Lucas graduated following the 2019 season, there was no telling where the Conquerors program would head next.

Lucas, who had set the CIF Southern Section scoring record, was on his way to Oregon State, and he reminded area fans just how good he is by helping the Beavers to the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament in March.

Jazz Gardner arrived at Los Altos last season, and as a freshman he showed Los Altos fans glimpses of what he can do by averaging 12 points and 10 rebounds. He also helped the Conquerors continue the winning, as they finished 24-4 in the 2019-20 season.

Now with a season’s worth of varsity experience, the 7-foot Gardner has grown into one of the top-rated sophomores in the country. He’s ranked 47th in the nation by 247Sports for the 2023 class and has a four-star rating. With improvement in his athleticism, it’s likely he’ll continue to rise up recruiting boards in the years ahead.

Gardner is the son of Jelani Gardner, who went to St. John Bosco High School and played for Cal and Pepperdine before a professional career overseas.

Jelani Gardner says Gonzaga, UCLA, USC, Villanova and Memphis are some of the schools that have shown interest, and that list will grow as Jazz Gardner continues to improve because there aren’t many 7-foot sophomores who can shoot 3-pointers, rebound and run the floor. He is the space-and-pace-type of player that everyone is looking for.

Just a week into the 2021 spring season, Gardner has already put up remarkable numbers, dominating in all facets and in a way the area hasn’t seen in a while.

In the Conquerors’ Hacienda League-opening victory over Rowland 80-49 on Wednesday, Gardner finished with a career-high 43 points to go with 15 rebounds, five blocks and three steals. He also buried five 3-pointers.

From last season to this season, Los Altos coach Jeff Lucas has seen his stretch big improve and grow.

“He’s grown physically and gained about 20 pounds,” Lucas said of Gardner. “He’s always been a good shooter, and he’s a very good passer too. For a big guy, he’s probably the best passer we’ve ever had. He attracts double-teams and he’s a willing passer, or if that’s not there he can go to the basket or shoot out of it. So yeah, he’s obviously matured a lot since last season.”

Gardner has shown that he’s a player you have to keep tabs on, because he can put up big numbers across the board.

“He’s the stretch four or five that can do everything,” Lucas added. “He works out a lot obviously, and his dad works on him a lot, and he’s doing well with his club team, too. But yes, he’s going to climb up (the national rankings) and be a great one.”

Los Altos is already 4-0 and will take on rival Walnut (4-3, 1-0) on Friday at 6:30 p.m. in a contest that usually dictates who will win the league title. The Mustangs have an outstanding sophomore too in Malik Khouzam, averaging 14 points, which adds to the game’s intrigue.

Gardner couldn’t ask for a better start to the season. He has played in three of Los Altos’ four games, averaging 35 points, 16 rebounds, four blocks and four assists.

In Los Altos’ season-opening 97-50 win over California, he finished with 37 points, 20 rebounds, seven blocks and five assists.

In Los Altos’ biggest challenge so far, the Conquerors beat Downey (5-1), 75-51, with Gardner pouring in 27 points with 15 rebounds.

The Conquerors were dropped to Division 2AA this season. They will be one of the favorites in the division, though it will likely only have a 15-game schedule due to the later start because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Link to SGV Tribune Article