With 72 hours until the Holiday Classic begins here are the rest of the team previews for the National Division to be played at Torrey Pines.
Cantwell-Sacred Heart Cardinals
The Cardinals are led by two senior bigs, Oregon State-bound 6-11 Gligorise Rakocevic ’15 and Harvard-bound 6-11 Balsa Dragovich ’15 who will collect many boards.
Cantwell Sacred Heart will open the National Division vs. Centennial (Corona, CA) in the 1st round at 12:40 pm.
Foothills Christian Knights
The Knights could be called a “junior” varsity team as Foothills Christian has seven juniors on the team and no seniors. The El Cajon, CA christian school can play with nearly anyone in the country as they did well at the Tarkanian Classic reaching the consolation final of the top ranked tournament in Vegas last weekend.
The Knights may be the top team in San Diego and are led by Arizona commit 6-10 T.J. Leaf ’16 who recently committed via twitter while having offers from Florida, Indiana, Michigan, SDSU, Texas and UCLA among others. Leaf can knock down the 3-ball, handle the ball when necessary, find the open player when double or triple teamed and play inside the paint. Leaf led all scorers at the Tarkanian Classic scoring 33.8 points per game.
6-4 Luis Salgado ’16 was named to the All-Tournament team at the Tarkanian Classic and has begun the year in full control of his shooting touch from beyond the arc. The chance of rain during the Holiday Classic is more likely than Salgado having a bad day shooting at Torrey Pines.
Foothills Christian has two transfers who have elevated the Knights significantly, 6-4 Omajae Smith ’16 from Serra (San Diego, CA) and 5-11 Nikko Paranada ’16 from Otay Ranch (Chula Vista, CA). Foothills is lacking in senior leadership but is deep and diverse with multiple ways to attack a defense.
Foothills Christian will open vs. Westchester in the 1st Round on December 26 at 7 pm.
La Costa Canyon Mavericks
La Costa Canyon has been hosting the American Division of the Holiday Classic for many years and that is where the Mavericks have participated in the tournament during that time, including the year NBA player Chase Budinger ’06 was a Maverick.
But this year LCC will play in the National Division bracket, although their first two round games will be played at La Costa Canyon. The Mavericks opened the year as the preseason # 1 team in San Diego as the defending CIF-San Diego section open division champions who are always well coached by David Cassaw.
Point guard Tommy McCarthy ’15, who signed with Harvard, has shown in the past that he can make the clutch shot at the buzzer. Northern Arizona signee Brady Twombly ’15 can help Brown signee Travis Fuller ’15 in the front court and with the addition of 6-5 Evan Kaplan ’15 the Mavericks has enough size to deal with big teams.
La Costa Canyon will open vs. Santa Monica at 7 pm at LCC on December 26.
6-9 Chimezie Metu ’15 signed with USC but he was also recruited by Harvard, Princeton, Stanford and UCLA. 6-9 SDSU signee Brodricks Jones ’16 had interest from Gonzaga, Tulsa, and Washington St. among others. 6-3 Chris White ’15 will play at UTEP while getting interest from Marquette and Cal St. Fullerton.
Grid-hoop star 6-2 guard Chris Murray ’16 led the football team to the playoffs as the quarterback and may get a collegiate offer in both sports next year.
Lawndale will open the Holiday Classic vs. Patrick (Elizabeth, NJ) in the first round on December 26 at Torrey Pines.
Santa Monica Vikings
The Vikings have three strong guards in Auburn signee 6-2 New Williams ’15, 6-3 Jonah Mathews ’16 and 6-0 freshman Spencer Freedman ’18. Coach James Hecht believes that he has the best backcourt in his 21 years at Santa Monica. 6-7 Daniel Schreier is a transfer who brings size and some balance to the Vikings.
Santa Monica opens at La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, CA) against LCC in the first round on December 26.
Torrey Pines Falcons
The Falcons strength is that Torrey Pines is senior loaded and has at least five players who can lead the team to victory. 6-3 Timmy Saunders ’15, who’s dad play professional volleyball, is likely the most common answer as to who is the leader of the team but Coach John Olive can look to others for the clutch shot.
6-3 Jack Beach ’15 probably hasn’t spent much time at the beach because his shot is on the mark while 6-4 Connor Milmoe ’15 is willing to battle inside the paint with anybody he may encounter. 6-2 Dominic Hovasse ’15 and 6-5 Marek Sullivan ’15 could both emerge as the go to player as the season progresses.
Torrey Pines opens vs. Jefferson (Brooklyn, NY) on 5:25 pm on Friday, December 26.
Coach Ed Azzam enters his 36th season lacking any big-time stars but will look to a plethora of athletes to excel as a team. Point guard Ellis Salahuddin ’15 will run the show while 6-6 L’Kielynn Taylor ’16 looks to have a break out season.
Coach has added size with transfer 6-7 junior Keith Fisher and 6-2 guard Akil Reese is a quick option as a two-guard.
Westchester takes on Foothills Christian in the first round at 7 pm at Torrey Pines.
First year head coach Steve Smith and Windward athletic director takes over a Wildcat team that he knows well as the former assistant coach. Smith was a head coach at NAIA Dominican College from 1990-97.
The Wildcats are very young but oozing with talent and it starts with 6-1 sophomore Jalen Harris ’17 who opened the season with a 30-point game in a 78-57 win over Lynwood (CA).
Windward has six freshman on the team and the biggest name would be 6-7 Shareef O’Neal, son of a former center for the Lakers who does a little TV work for TNT sports. 6-6 Jules Bernard ’18 and 6-3 Payton Moore ’18 are also part of the talented freshman class for the Wildcats. Wonder Smith brings much needed senior leadership to the very young team.
Windward will face Prime Prep (Dallas, TX) in the last game of the opening day at 8:35 pm at Torrey Pines on December 26.
Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary Cardinals at a Glance
Location: Montebello, CA
Type: Catholic school
Head Coach: George Zedan
2013-14 Season: 23-9, State Division IV Semifinalist
# 14: 6-11 Balsa Dragovic ’15 (Harvard)
# 23: 6-11 Gligorije Rakocevic ’15 (Oregon State)
Foothills Christian Knights at a Glance
Location: El Cajon, CA
Established: 1997 (Venture Christian until 2006)
Head Coach: Brad Leaf
2013-14 Season: 20-9, San Diego Section D3 Semifinalist
# 22: 6-10 T.J. Leaf ‘16
# 24: 6-4 Luis Salgado ‘16
# 4: 6-4 Omajae Smith ‘16
# 15: 5-11 Nikko Paranada ‘16
# 11: 6-2 Javier Guerrero ‘16
# 40: 6-7 J.R. Rivera ‘16
La Costa Canyon Mavericks at a Glance
Location: Carlsbad, CA
Head Coach: David Cassaw
2013-14 Season: 27-6, CIF-San Diego Section Open Division Champion
# 1: 6-0 Tommy McCarthy ’15 (Harvard signee)
# 24: 6-5 Brady Twombly ’15 (Northern Arizona signee)
# 32: 6-8 Travis Fuller ’15 (Brown signee)
# 25: 6-5 Evan Kaplan ’15
Lawndale Cardinals at a Glance
Location: Lawndale, CA
Established: 1959 (closed from 1981 to 1998)
Head Coach: Chris Brownlee
2013-14 Season: 20-9, CIF-Southern Section Open D1A Quarterfinals
# 4: 6-9 Chimezie Metu ‘15 (USC signee)
# 1: 6-9 Brodricks Jones ’15 (SDSU signee)
# 25: 6-3 Chris White ’15 (UTEP signee)
Santa Monica Vikings at a Glance
Location: Santa Monica, CA
Head Coach: James Hecht
2013-14 Season: 17-11, CIF-Southern Section D1AA 2nd Round
# 44: 6-2 New Williams ‘15 (Auburn signee)
# 4: 6-3 Jonah Mathews ‘16
# 12: 6-0 Spencer Freedman ‘18
# 2: 6-7 Daniel Schreier ‘17
Torrey Pines Falcons at a Glance
Location: San Diego, CA
Head Coach: John Olive
2013-14 Season: 25-5, CIF-SD Section Open Division semifinalist
# 2: 6-3 Timmy Saunders ‘15
# 22: 6-2 Dominic Hovasse ‘15
# 3: 6-3 Jack Beach ‘15
# 34: 6-4 Connor Milmoe ‘15
# 5: 6-5 Marek Sullivan ‘15
Westchester Comets at a Glance
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Head Coach: Ed Azzam
2013-14 Season: 30-7, CIF State Open Division Semifinalist
# 5: 5-11 Ellis Salahuddin ‘15
# 0: 6-2 Akil Reese ‘15
# 11: 6-6 L’Kielynn Taylor ‘16
# 24: 6-8 Keith Fisher ‘16
Windward Wildcats at a Glance
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Head Coach: Steve Smith
2013-14 Season: 23-10, CIF State D4 2nd Round
# 2: 6-1 Jalen Harris ‘17
# 34: 6-7 Shareef O’Neal ’18 (son of Shaquille O’Neal)
# 32: 6-6 Jules Bernard ‘18
# 3: 6-3 Payton Moore ‘18
# 10: 6-2 Wonder Smith ‘15
Other Team Previews Have Already Been Posted
Bellevue Wolverines (WA)
Centennial Huskies (Corona, CA)
Fairfax Lions (Los Angeles, CA)
Loyola Cubs (Los Angeles, CA)
Patrick Celtics (Elizabeth, NJ)
Prime Prep Spartans (Dallas, TX)
Redondo Seahawks (Redondo Beach, CA)
Thomas Jefferson (Brooklyn, NY)