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Hoover High’s JayDee Luster, who led a turn around in athletic fortunes at the alma mater of the baseball Hall-of-Famer, accepts a New Mexico State scholarship offer.

Hoover High’s JayDee Luster recited Reggie Theus’ NBA career – 12 seasons, five as an All-Star – as one reason he gave New Mexico State’s second-year coach a commitment to come play for him next year.

That didn’t surprise me, because this is a Hoover kid who not only knows Ted Williams is his school’s most famous athlete, he can show you the house on Utah Street where Williams grew up. Luster, who lives just a couple of doors down from the place, has an appreciation for athletes who came before his generation.

“I hope Ted Williams would be proud of me,” said Luster, standing beneath a large picture of Williams in the Hoover gym after announcing he will attend New Mexico State. “I really respect Ted Williams.”

Luster, a 5-foot-9 point guard, is the San Diego Section’s all-time leader in career assists (803 and counting) and career steals (514 and counting). He has been named an All-American three times by Student Sports Magazine, perhaps the most reputable high school publication of rankings and All-American honors.

Wake Forest and Florida were at the top of Luster’s list until a broken ankle prevented him from playing in the summer tournaments that recruiters attend.

“I wasn’t able to play this summer, and that turned a lot of people off,” Luster said. “But New Mexico State stood with me, and that’s a reason I decided to go there.”

Here’s another reason Ted Williams would be proud of Luster: Hoover’s athletic program, led by the basketball team’s success, has gone from one of the worst in San Diego to one collecting league and CIF titles.

Before Luster and basketball teammate Todd Doxey arrived at Hoover as a freshman, the Cardinals were 18-59 the previous three years in basketball. With Luster and Doxey, the Cardinals are 76-29 and won the 2006 CIF San Diego Section Division II title. Doxey also plays football – he has a scholarship to Oregon – and he led Hoover to a share of the Western League title.

– TOM SHANAHAN

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