SAN JOSE, Calif. – The Cosumnes River men's basketball team will make their 2013-14 debut tonight when they take on Lassen in the opening round of the San Jose City College Tip-off Classic. The double-elimination tournament, featuring eight of the top teams in their respective regions, runs through Saturday when the championship game will take place.
Following four weeks of official practices, the Hawks are looking for their first taste of competition this week. CRC won't have to wait long for a test, as they face a difficult road on their way to winning the tournament championship. Lassen, coming off a Golden Valley Conference championship last season and a trip to the CCCAA Sweet Sixteen, is reloaded for the new season. Despite losing their top four scorers last season to graduation or transfer, the Cougars boast an impressive class of newcomers looking to make their own mark on the GVC this year. Guards Meshawn Beard, Lawrence Otis and Marvin White will lead the Lassen backcourt this season in what figures to be a formidable Cougar offense. Returner LJ Melton should also factor into Lassen's plans this season, following a productive freshman campaign where he averaged 8.3 points per contest. The frontcourt boasts a quality rotation of posts led by out-of-state prospects Juandrico Walker and Denzel Famble. Walker, a 6'6" forward by way of Virginia, looks to fill the void left by the departure of All-State post Charles Jackson. Famble, a 6'6" forward out of Savannah, Georgia, projects to start alongside Walker.
The 2013-14 Cosumnes River men's basketball team returns three players from last season's roster. However, all played key roles during the 2012-13 season and will provide the team with valuable veteran leadership. Leading this group will be returning forward Jaycob Velasco, a 6-7 post out of Pleasant Valley High School in Chico. He was second on the team in points and first on the team in rebounding, while playing his way to All-Big 8 honorable mention recognition as a freshman. Also returning to the Hawks will be two starters from last year's backcourt, in Rodney Cook and Brenden Glapion. Cook, a 5-11 guard from Bethel High School in Vallejo, appeared in all 29 games last season as the team's starting point guard. He averaged 8.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, as well as 4.3 assists as a true freshman. Also returning to the team's backcourt will be sophomore Brenden Glapion. Glapion, a native of San Francisco who transferred to CRC from Seattle University a year ago, appeared in 28 games last season for the Hawks and started the team's final 17 contests.
The Hawks also boast an impressive class of newcomers, a number of which should factor into the rotation right out of the gate. Guard AJ Bridges, a former standout point guard from nearby Monterey Trail High School, is coming off a redshirt season after transferring from Fresno City College. Also joining the Hawks this year is NJCAA transfer forward TJ Williams. Williams, a 6-5 forward out of Tracy High School, comes to the Hawks via Northeastern Oklahoma A&M. Both players have made an impact over the preseason, and look to factor heavily in the team's rotation this season.
Joining these sophomores will be a standout group of freshman, as CRC boasts one of its best recruiting classes in years. Heading to CRC for the 2013-14 season will be 6-9 forward Daiveon Leverett out of Weston Ranch High School in Stockton. Leverett was a nationally-ranked prospect who led his team to three-straight Northern California regional state playoff appearances. Also joining the Hawks this season is All-State guard Andrew Johnson out of Nevada. Johnson, a two-time All-State selection and ESPN pre-season All-State selection, led Hug High School of Reno to a 24-4 record and an appearance in the Nevada State Championship game against national power Bishop Gorman as a senior. Playing alongside Leverett in the frontcourt will be a pair of local post prospects who put together stellar senior seasons last year. Semir Cahtarevic, a native of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is a 6-7 post player who saw time as a point forward at Del Campo High School last season. Joining Cahtarevic will be David Straughter from nearby Luther Burbank High School. Straughter, a 6-5 forward, was a four-time letter winner for the Titans who earned a Cal-Hi Sports All-State nomination as a senior. He will miss this tournament as he recovers from a sprained wrist.
In addition to Johnson, the Cosumnes River backcourt will feature three freshmen who will look to solidify the one, two and three positions for Hawks this year. Joining Johnson will be 6-3 guard Joe Barnes out of Sacramento High School. Barnes, who averaged 11.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 2.0 steals per game as a senior last year, earned many postseason accolades including All-Metro honorable mention honors from the Sacramento Bee. Joining Barnes will be a pair of guards coming to CRC from prep schools on the East coast. Nelson Gonzalez, a 5-11 guard from Boston, comes to CRC following a post-graduate year at Rise Academy in Philadelphia. Mitchell Love, a 6-2 Sacramento native who played a post-graduate year at St. Ignatios Prep in South Carolina, also joins the Hawks for the 2013-14 season.
Tip-off for tonight's contest is scheduled for 8 PM. Also in the Hawks bracket this tournament will be host San Jose City College and Merced Junior College. The winner of Cosumnes River-Lassen will take on the winner of this contest tomorrow at 6 PM. On the opposite side of the bracket will be Oakland Hills-based Merritt College, who made an appearance in the CCCAA Final Four last season. Also in that bracket will be Riverside CC, led by former USF head coach Phil Matthews. Mathews most recently served as an assistant coach at UCLA before taking the head coaching position at Riverside. Rounding out the tournament field will be Coast Conference North power Foothill College, as well as Monterey Peninsula College.
Stay tuned to CRChawks.com, as well as the official CRC athletics social media feeds for up-to-date information from the San Jose City College Tip-off Classic.