February 11, 2011

Salesian’s ‘DA’ makes the case

Kevin McCarthy

The ultimate in basketball compliments is when a coach designates a player to run the team. Such an endorsement kicks into overdrive when a former college point, now a Division I head coach, seeks out a high school prospect and offers him the keys to his squad. Such a scenario just took place for Salesian High’s Dominic Artis.

photo of Dominic Artis

Nevada’s David Carter, the former St. Mary’s quarterback on the floor in the mid-to-late 1980s, recently extended a scholarship offer to Artis. Carter cannot speak about any recruits due to NCAA regulations but he obviously sees himself -- a mirror if you will, possibly an enhanced version -- in the 5-foot-9 junior.

Ranked No. 7 in the NorCalPreps.com class of 2012 ranking, Artis reacted positively: "I feel good, it’s like a weight off my shoulders [to get his initial offer]." But he added that he’ll be making his college choice "after the summer."

Dennis Gates, the former Cal player and coach who now assists Carter at Nevada, was Artis’ primary contact. Gates linked up Artis and Carter and the latter obviously was smitten.

In a recent article in the Reno newspaper, the Nevada coach was offering a future vision to his current squad, words that were attractive to Artis. Carter was quoted about wanting to speed up his team’s style of play: "I was a point guard and I played up-tempo, and that’s one change I would like to have." He also related that he wants to implement a full-court press and explained what is holding him back from doing so right now is the youthfulness and inexperience of his team. Nevada has just three upperclassmen on its roster but has turned a rocky beginning into a current third place 6-3 conference record. The lessons from the Wolf Pack coaching staff have been taken to heart and the learning curve, while still in place, a relatively quickening one.

photo of Dominic Artis

So talk about a marriage of style preferences between Carter and Artis.

Here’s a comment about Artis from a longtime northern California basketball maven who wishes to remain in the background: "I’ve had the privilege of watching this young man grow up and play since he was in the sixth grade. If you opened your dictionary and looked up the term "gym rat" you’d see a picture of DA. He is the consummate worker, always perfecting his expansive basketball skills and strengthening his body. The one thing that impresses me most about this young man is his level of maturity, poise and sense of calm on and off the court. He’s a true young gentleman. Coach Carter and the University of Nevada were wise to be the first folks to show up to the party. DA is a coach’s dream and is going to make some D-1 coach look like a genius when he ultimately agrees to attend their university and accept their gift."

As for other current affairs, Bill Mellis’ Salesian squad, No. 6 in the latest NCP team rankings, remains the favorite to ultimately capture the Bay Shore Athletic League top team honors what with Artis, Jabari Bird, Freddie Tagaloa and others.

"People didn’t think we would be as good as we are after losing Des [Desmond Simmons, now at Washington]," Artis related. But he has a mantra that keeps him grounded and moving forward. "I say to myself ‘be hungry’ as a reminder to keep reaching and moving forward as far as I can get." Artis sees his primary role on the Pride as "getting the ball into the hands of my teammates in the right situations." That could be another mantra: drive and dish.

Currently in the Western Athletic Conference, Nevada is moving over to the Mountain West Conference after another year, along with Fresno State. Boise State switches after the current season concludes. All will be jostling with the likes of powers San Diego State, New Mexico and UNLV for league and, at least this season, West Coast supremacy.

By the way, Nevada is coming to the Bay Area on Saturday for a game against San Jose State University. Expect Artis and his family to be present and eyeing how the Wolf Pack perform on the court.

So Artis has been asked to the ball. Other lurking suitors better make their intentions clear and soon or face being date-less, but more importantly, point-less.