NEWARK, Calif. -
It was a bittersweet way to end a season, but Castro Valley (Calif.)
High School's boys basketball team has a chance to disperse some of the sour right away in 2010-11.
The Trojans take on UTEP-bound Darius Nelson
and his Sheldon (Sacramento)
Huskies to open the season and finish off Northern California's top basketball tournament in November.
The Sheldon-Castro Valley is the last of seven games of the NorCal Tip Off Classic at Newark Memorial High School on Saturday. The game is scheduled at 8:30 p.m.
The two teams played the game of the year in the region – an 85-82 NorCal Division I opening-round overtime thriller – when Nelson had a career-high 49 points and 12 rebounds and hit a 3-pointer with 4.9 seconds left in regulation to force extra time.
Nelson, a burly 6-foot-6 guard and brother of former Duke star DeMarcus Nelson, along with 6-8 Pepperdine-bound Ramon Eaton
return for Sheldon, which lost in the NorCal semifinals to Newark Memorial.
But Castro Valley returns three future college players, including 6-7 Marquette-bound Juan Anderson
"In some ways, that's a very hard game to think about," Castro Valley coach Nick Jones said. "They made plays down the stretch and we didn't. I could have coached better down the stretch as well.
"But after looking at film of that game, it was one of the best games we played all season. We competed hard and played very well in their home gym. It just didn't turn out how we wanted."
Though Sheldon (28-6) is a monumental task to open the season for the Trojans (23-7), it's also a great opportunity, Jones said.
"We're fortunately because we have a chance to erase some of those bitter feelings," Jones said. "At the same time, Sheldon is so talented and deep and well-coached. We'll have our hands full."
Castro Valley might just be the best team in the San Francisco Metro Area, if not the most exciting. The trio of Anderson, Roderick Bobbitt (6-2) and Chris Read (6-5) are the Bay Area's prep version of the Heat's James, Wade and Bosh.
Bobbitt may be the Castro Valley's most talented player, a point guard who led the team at 21.2 points per game. He was the Hayward Area Athletic League's MVP, a league which included NorCal Division III champion Bishop O'Dowd, which features one of the country's top juniors Brandon Ashley.
"When (Bobbitt) wants to take over a game he usually can," Jones said. "He tends to rise to the occasion and do his best in the big games."
Read (14.4 ppg) is a high-flier – an extremely active and smooth operator down low. "He's worked tremendously on getting stronger and improving his jump shot," Jones said. "He should be much better this year."
Anderson fills up a stat sheet, though isn't a huge scorer at 12.7 per game last season. "He's get you 8-10 rebounds, five or six assists, three or four steals," Jones said. "And he'll guard the opponent's best player."
That means, in Saturday's case, Nelson, a hybrid at his point guard position because of his sheer strength and wider body. He averaged 24.7 points per game last year, made 53 3-pointers, took 190 free throws and averaged 3.1 assists and 8.0 rebounds per game.
He can beat you inside or outside.
"Frankly, we had no one to guard him last time," Jones said. "We couldn't match up with his strength. But they had a little trouble because of our length and athleticism."
Eaton (180 pounds) is more of a perimeter player though he led Sheldon at 9.8 rebounds per game to go along with 15.1 scoring average.
Sheldon has plenty of supporting players returning, including D'Erryl Williams II, a 6-3 wing, who last year as a freshman was third on the team with an 8.2 scoring average.
Williams is not the only super sophomore on the squad. Dakari Allen (6-4) and Ryan Manning (6-5), along with outstanding junior Kyiron Thomas (6-3), gives Sheldon coach Joey Rollings lots of options.
"They have a lot of depth and a lot of weapons," Jones said. "It should be fun."
So should the rest of the tournament, which includes one of the nation's top 20 seniors in
Oakland (Oakland, Calif.)
senior Jabari Brown
, who has committed to Oregon. The 6-5 wing had one of the best summers of any top player in the country, leading the Oakland Soldiers to an AAU title at the ballyhooed Las Vegas Fab 48.
Brown is one of about 30 Division I prospects at the event, said event director Gerry Freitas, a former assistant coach at St. Mary's, USC, Colorado and UC Davis.
Brown's teammate T J Taylor
, a 5-8 point guard, has committed to UC Santa Barbara. THE GAMES
(At Newark Memorial High School)
* San Leandro
vs. Deer Valley (Antioch)
, 11 a.m.
, 12:30 p.m.
* St. Patrick/St. Vincent (Vallejo)
, 2:15 p.m.
* Analy (Sebastopol)
vs. Franklin (Elk Grove)
, 3:45 p.m.
vs. Rodriguez (Fairfield)
, 5:30 p.m.
* Newark Memorial (Newark)
, 7 p.m.
* Castro Valley
, 8:30 p.m. THE PLAYERS
(Among others who are recruiting lists) Class of 2011
Akil Johnson, Berkeley, 6-6Jalen Headspeth
, Oakland, 5-11Dominique Taplin
, Oakland, 6-1
Hameed Ali, San Leandro, 6-2
Quincy Smith, Deer Valley, 6-1Andre McPhail
, Deer Valley, 6-5Chukwuemeka Iroegbu
, Franklin, 6-3Class of 2012
Langston Morris-Walker, Berkeley, 6-4
Casey Norris, Newark Memorial, 6-1Jamil Brown
, Oakland, 6-4Tajai Johnson
, Vallejo, 6-2
Theo Johnson, Franklin, 6-6Class of 2013
Keymonte Gardner, San Leandro, 5-7Marcus Lee
, Deer Valley, 6-7
Eric Nielsen, Dublin, 6-7
Jason Webster, St. Patrick/St. Vincent, 6-0
Ike Iroegbu, Franklin, 6-0
Darin Johnson, Franklin, 6-3
Rae Jackson, Rodriguez, 6-1Class of 2014
Demoriaye Hart-Spike, St. Patrick/St. Vincent, 5-9
Joey Frenchwood, Newark Memorial, 6-0