With his back to the basket, Ethan Zakarin wards off his defender as he collects a teammate’s pass from the wing. He takes one dribble to the left, then quickly spins back to the middle with a graceful drop step, scoring from close range on the opposite side of the basket.
The highlight-reel sequence reveals a sliver of the low-post arsenal that Zakarin has developed during his time on the Crossroads boys basketball team, and it’s perhaps a sign of things to come.
Zakarin has decided to continue his athletic career at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, where he’ll join a men’s basketball program that competes in Division III as a member of the North Coast Athletic Conference.
Zakarin said the academic opportunities and the chance to make an impact on the basketball court lured him to Kenyon, a 1,600-student campus about 45 miles from Columbus. He’ll attend a college whose list of alumni includes former U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes, two Supreme Court justices, award-winning actor Paul Newman and Calvin and Hobbes cartoonist Bill Watterson.
Kenyon also leads all Division III institutions with a total of 60 national championship trophies, according to its website, and Zakarin hopes to help the Lords add to their legacy in sports.
The Brentwood resident is looking forward to improving his skills under coach Dan Priest, who is in his sixth year at the helm of the program. The team, whose roster currently includes two other California products, had logged eight wins through 21 games this season.
“I went for a visit and vibed with the guys, and I had a good open gym,” he said. “I looked into the programs they had and saw they had a great academic reputation. It just worked out.”
Kenyon will be the next destination for Zakarin in a basketball career that began early in his childhood. He played several sports, including baseball and flag football, but he seemed to have a knack for hoops.
The 6-foot-5 athlete said it probably didn’t hurt that he was usually one of the taller kids on the court. He’s planning to put his height to use this spring by playing volleyball with the Roadrunners.
Zakarin, who attended Wildwood School in West Los Angeles before enrolling at Crossroads for high school, took his game to the next level by playing on the club circuit. He said college basketball became realistic for him early last year, when he participated in a showcase that welcomed scouts from schools with strong academic traditions.
“I figured, ‘If they’re recruiting me, I guess I’m good enough,’” he said.
At Kenyon, Zakarin will likely pursue his interest in writing by taking courses in English, journalism and creative writing.
Zakarin said he’ll miss playing basketball with his friends at his Santa Monica private school. Among the highlights was a 62-60 win over Santa Monica at the St. Monica tournament earlier this season.
“I don’t think anybody expected us to do that,” he said. “We’ve had some unbelievable memories. I’ll definitely miss playing in the gym at Crossroads.”