A Key to Success

Ken Asai has scored 42 points in his last two games, including an 18-point performance in the first round of the CIF Southern Section playoffs. (Photos by MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS/Rafu Shimpo)


TORRANCE.–The inari didn’t stand a chance.

Ken Asai gobbled down the rice wrapped in fried tofu his mother made, in seconds flat.

On the basketball court, Asai’s opponents haven’t fared much better.

The West Torrance High senior has traveled a highly unlikely path to where he currently sits, as the Warriors were prepping Friday for their second-round game in the CIF Southern Section Div. 3 AA playoffs.

A native of Tokyo, Asai arrived as a somewhat unknown quantity at West last fall – and has started every game this season. He’s averaged 10 points, three assists and three rebounds per game, including 18 points in West’s playoff opener Wednesday, a 62-54 win at Schurr.

Not bad for a guy who had to sneak into a gym just to practice.

“There was no place to play, no outside courts at any of the parks,” Asai explained about the Tokyo neighborhood where he grew up. “The nearest one was about 40 minutes away by train, so that’s the only option we had.”

Along with younger brother Daisuke, Asai would make the daily 5 a.m. trip to the sprawling Yoyogi Park, where the two would shoot pre-dawn baskets and run drills before rushing home and getting ready for school.