Head coach Derrick Taylor has a tough act to follow this season at St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.).
The school's football team is headed to the playoffs with a 10-0 record and is ranked No. 5 nationally by MaxPreps. The Braves are averaging over 45 points per game and put up 75 in an early October game against City Section power Crenshaw (Los Angeles).
Taylor's basketball program knows what it's like to be overshadowed — a chip on the shoulder that could serve this year's team well. Trinity League rival Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) is one of the most storied programs nationwide and has won 25 league titles in a row (though not all in Trinity). Gary McKnight's Monarchs haven't dropped a game to Bosco since MaxPreps start tracking scores in 2004-05.
"We like our team and our chances, but knocking off the Big Red Machine — that's no easy task," Taylor said.
Taylor's optimism starts with the returning duo of junior Tyler Dorsey and senior Connecticut pledge Daniel Hamilton.
Dorsey, a 6-foot-4 guard, averaged 17 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game last year and looked like one of the nation's top guards in several big events over the summer. Hamilton, who operates on the perimeter despite being in the 6-7 range, added 14.5 points and 7.2 rebounds per game in 2012-13.
Transfers Lorne Currie
and Vance Jackson
plus freshman Billy Preston
add major firepower and size to the lineup.
Jackson is another tall prospect with the ability to do damage from the outside. The 6-8 sophomore was a MaxPreps Freshman All-American
last season after putting up 19 points per game at La Salle (Pasadena).
"He is a big-time shooter," Taylor said. "He can really shoot it from deep and is a very savvy basketball player."
Expect to hear a lot about Preston over the next four years. Taylor expects the freshman manchild to earn a spot in the starting lineup.
"He's far from a finished product but he works at it all the time and is really improving," Taylor said.
Bosco should be strong going at least eight or nine deep, which will be crucial given the brutal schedule that it will embark on beginning Nov. 25 at the Redondo Union Pac-Shore Tournament.
View gallery of St. John Bosco preseason photo shoot.
St. John Bosco last five years:
2012-13 (Derrick Taylor) – 24-7, CIF Southern Section Division 3A champion
2011-12 (Derrick Taylor) – 25-8
2010-11 (Chris Madigan) – 21-9
2009-10 (Chris Madigan) – 14-11
2008-09 (Chris Madigan) – 12-13