Forget about resurrection. Gavilan College basketball never left us but has been on life support for seemingly an eternity. Opposing teams facing the Rams presumed a victory would be forthcoming and rightly so.
This is not to denigrate the valiant efforts of many to turn the program around but the reality is spelled out in the litany of losing records.
Dallas Jensen took over the program in March and the newspaper story angle was ‘local returning home.’ Expectations in and around the Gilroy community weren’t high simply because of Gavilan hoops’ unfortunate history.
However, the Rams just finished the recent Nor Cal Juco Jamboree at City College of San Francisco with a 3-1 record. Gavilan handled Contra Costa College 60-49 and then Modesto Junior College 44-43. A 58-51 loss to (2017 elite eight finalist) Cañada was followed by a 67-44 victory versus Ohlone College.
Might a different Gavilan program be taking the floor this season?
Jensen sure hopes so: “I love recruiting and watching young men develop in all walks of life. As a head coach at this level, we have a chance to really establish relationships with these young men and help them grow in every facet of life – relationships, academics, basketball, social, careers, you name it. We made a conscious effort to recruit young men who were not only talented and could compete at this level, but also were great young men who would carry themselves in a respectful manner in the classroom and in the community. We feel blessed to have so many new faces that have really bought into the culture and identity we are trying to establish.”
Gavilan 2017-18 features a host of new talents, many with local and regional roots, with each player fitting Jensen’s credo of “high character kids who compete and work hard on the court and in the classroom.”
Here’s Jensen’s roster (from the Jamboree):
- 6’0″, 165 – Kiree Hutchings, SO
- 6’0″, 160 – Mrad Abrha, FR
- 6’0″, 175 – Diontae Burden, SO
- 6’1″, 185 – Ibn Zaid, FR
- 6’2″, 195 – Brian King, Jr., SO
- 6’3″, 200 – Stephen Williams, SO
- 6’4″, 170 – LaRon Logwood, SO
- 6’5″, 205 – Dennis Zmijewski, SO
- 6’6″, 195 – Xander Bowers, FR
- 6’6″, 195 – Takoda Bowers, SO
- 6’6″, 180 – Ken Modica, SO
- 6’7″, 160 – Alex Hammonds, FR
- 6’8″, 230 – Jamont Wilson, SO
- 5’10” Santiago Jimenez, FR
- 5’11” Youssef Eshra, SO
- 6’3″ Jaren Braxton, FR
- 6’4″ Kurtis McCoy, SO
The players who garnered some attention over the weekend are (with Jensen providing descriptions):
Kiree Hutchings – a 6-foot transfer from Fresno Pacific “is a fluid PG with an incredibly high IQ who is one of the best shooters in California with an incredible demeanor and work ethic. He’s a natural leader who knows how to compete, but always has a smile on his face.”
Jamont Wilson – a 6-foot-8 transfer from Cal State East Bay and “he is a load who was one of the most effective post players over the weekend. Can control the glass and make an impact on both ends of the floor. A few coaches have already contacted me about him.”
Stephen Williams – “stands 6-foot-3 but with a 6-foot-10 wingspan and is one of the best perimeter defensive players I’ve been around at this level. His work ethic is outstanding. Guys look to him on and off the floor – he is an extension of the head coach.”
Takoda Bowers – Out of Christopher High in Gilroy, Takoda “is a gritty competitor who will stick his nose in the middle of anything and has a desire to compete and win – he’s tough. Can stretch the floor on the offensive end and really rebounds well.”
Xander Bowers – The younger of the local Bowers brothers, Xander “can run like a gazelle and has a really high ceiling. His knack for the ball on both ends of the floor is uncanny. He has one of the better motors I’ve seen out of the are and we’re sxcited to watch him develop here.”
Ibn Zaid – is out of Taft High in Los Angeles and “has an advanced IQ and is polished offensively. A natural leader, he can shoot it all over the floor and handle it. One of the few guys around who can guard a guy 94 feet. He is a qualifier, so we are enjoying watching him develop to get ready for the next level.”
Brian King – “is an old school player who likes to body opponents offensively and is a load off the dribble. ‘Bam’ really understands what we want on both ends of the floor and can carry us on any given night. He’s extremely coachable.”
Ken Modica – “is one of the better pure athletes I’ve seen at any level. He has a 43-inch vertical and has added length at 6’6″. He asks questions daily and has a growing desire to learn and grow. Ken is a high character young man who is really developing and learning how to compete.”
Regarding style of play, Jensen said, “on offense, we’ll be very fast and very aggressive with a downhill mentality. I like to greenlight my young men as long as they are competing. We stress team basketball and trusting your teammates. I want them to play with confidence and play as a unit.”
On the opposite end of the floor, “we’ll play a lot of man-to-man (half court and full court) and show a couple of zone looks. We want to stay active and engaged regardless of what defense we may show – with constant energy, effort and toughness. If we really compete on the defensive end, play tough, and rebound, we think we can be effective.”
“I want guys who really want to compete. We constantly talk about controllable characteristics. We tell them ‘control what you can control — effort, energy, attitude, toughness, and demeanor — and listen to your coaches, mentors, and family. The rest will take care of itself and fall into place.’
We’re trying to change the landscape, identity, and the culture of Gavilan College basketball. There are some great programs up and down the Coast Conference and we are hopeful we can just be competitive in conference in year one.”
While it is still going to be a process, there appears to be hope that a new brand of basketball could be taking the floor in Gilroy this coming season.
“Be coachable, compete, and control what you can control” is Jensen’s mantra to his players.
It appears the new look Rams are working to do just that.