May 14, 2011

Haysbert is off the board

Kevin McCarthy

Think of Center High and E-Time Hoops Academy’s Chad Haysbert and two basketball terms quickly come to mind: big and versatile. This is because he stands 6-foot-8 and can play facing and with his back to the basket. These elements intrigued many a college coach but the one who succeeded in getting a signed letter-of-intent is located in Houston.

photo of Chad haysbert

Haysbert’s production this 25-8, 10-0 Pioneer Valley League high school season illustrates his skill flexibility. He averaged a team-leading 14.9 points and 6.6 boards a game but also 2.3 assists a contest, which was second on the Cougar squad. This ability to play effectively in different phases of the game and on multiple areas on the court is a major plus for coaches in offensive and defensive design.

Ultimately, it was Houston Baptist (HB) Coach Ron Cottrell who liked Haysbert the most and it became a mutual admiration society. Haysbert just finished a visit to the Houston campus and quickly made the decision to align himself with the Huskies. He will begin attending school during the second summer session. He also received interest from a pair of Ivy League schools, a WAC member, a team in the Mountain West Conference plus a number of D-2 schools.

Why Cottrell and HB? "He’s a winner and I want to be with a winner," Haysbert explained. "They recruited me the longest and the hardest. Plus, he has been there 20 years." The Huskies were an NAIA power before beginning the transition to D-1 four years ago. Prior to the move, HB had won nine consecutive conference championships and participated in the NAIA national tournament 10 straight years. During Cottrell’s tenure, six players have received Academic All-America honors along with 53 earning Academic All-Conference recognition.

HB is now a member of the Great West Conference whose other schools include Texas Pan American, Chicago State, Utah Valley State, North Dakota, South Dakota and the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Asked where he’ll be positioned next season, Haysbert said, "At the three and as a faceup four." Four senior starters are departing the program so the opportunity is there to earn playing time.

He also wanted to "congratulate all my E Time Hoops guys. We’re all going to college whether it involves playing basketball or not."

As for a northern California-HB connection, former Mills High and Skyline College player Shawn Echols is graduating after a two year starting stint for Cottrell.