May 28, 2012

Belton going Keelhaulin'

Kevin McCarthy

If you're baling hay and you receive an invitation to go keelhauling, some might think twice or at least ask a lot of questions. Not Jordan Belton who turned a solid senior season into an all star game appearance and now a college basketball scholarship.

photo of Jordan Belton

A member of the San Benito High Haybalers (19-7, 9-3 in the Tri County Athletic League this season), Belton topped his squad in scoring at 15.2 points per game while earning all league honors the past two years. That earned him an invite to play in the post season Salinas Steinbeck Rotary Club North-South All-Star Basketball Classic.

In the audience that night was Cal Maritime Coach Brian Rooney.

Call it all a matter of mutual serendipity.

An intriguing showing by Belton resulted in he and Rooney conversing after the game. A visit to Vallejo took place later and the result is Belton has a college home and the Keelhaulers have a backcourt addition.

Making it all the more remarkable, as the 6-foot Belton put it, "Cal Maritime wasn't among my earlier choices."

"I like how he presented himself and his team, how he saw me and what he told me I could accomplish there," Belton noted, adding, "He sold me on I was their guy and how much they wanted me. He made me and my Dad real comfortable."

Belton continued, "Cal Maritime graduates get jobs, they had a great season last year and Coach Rooney wants to start up where they left off. I wanted to go with a winner."

The Keelhaulers are coming off the best season in school history as Cal Maritime set a school record for wins (21), won the Cal Pacific Conference with an undefeated 12-0 record and advanced to the NAIA National Tournament for the first time in school history.

Just what will the fans in Vallejo be seeing of Belton come September?

"I'm a high energy player. They had a really good team last year and I really want to work this off season so that I can be college [basketball] ready," Belton explained. He is already implementing a summer workout plan provided by the Keelhauler staff.

The feedback he received indicated Rooney and his staff are looking at Belton as a combo guard.

Asked what he will major in, Belton said "international business." That curriculum will include classes, lectures and internships overseas as part of the preparation for the real world.

As with so many who conclude the process of recruiting, Belton offered he felt "a mixture of relief and happiness" once he signed. "You want to go to the right place and that's hard to determine. Now I can focus all my effort on getting better."

Belton offered thanks to "all the coaches who offered me positions on their teams, especially Bob Bramlett and Al Grigsby [of the West Valley Basketball Club] for working with me the past three years. I also want to thank Coach Rooney for being at that game."

Cal Maritime is a member of the Cal Pacific Conference which also includes Holy Names, Menlo, Pacific Union, Simpson, UC Merced, William Jessup

Besides Belton, Rooney has also signed St. Helena High's Alec Fetzer, John and Michael Daily of College Park High plus Erik Hansen of Santa Rosa Junior College.