October 25, 2016

Santos going Pioneer-ing

Kevin McCarthy

When the intensity ratchets up in a game and Bobby Santos is on your team, look to him. His earlier experience going mano-a-mano in the boxing ring has given him extreme experience in handling pressure and that's just one of the elements that brought Santos and Cal State East Bay (CSEB) into a basketball pairing.

photo of Bobby Santos

When Pioneer Coach Gus Argenal recently offered, the six-foot Santos answered in the affirmative. "I chose Cal State East Bay for a number of reasons. My relationship with the coaches is great and the facilities and campus are nice. Coach Argenal is a wonderful guy, straight up and honest and it [the program] seems like a good family and something I wanted to be part of."

The Valley Christian guard will be primarily positioned at the point. In looking at the early 2016-17 Pioneer roster, four guards are entering their senior season of eligibility so the opportunity to earn early playing time will be present.

So what will Cal State East Bay fans see from him? "I shoot the three really well and I'm a strong ballhandler and passer. I have good court vision, play hard and I'll bring good, positive energy to the team."

Santos singled out three individuals as critical factors in his development. "Kelvin Potts [Team Arsenal out of Oakland] has been a huge influence. He taught me so much and his knowledge of the game was so helpful. I'd have to be up by five if the practice was to begin at seven so that helped me stay disciplined." He also cited the opportunity to train and scrimmage against other top Team Arsenal talents such as Zach Chappell, Tim Falls, Elijah Hardy, Naseem Gaskin and others as beneficial. Closer to home, "Adrian Valderrama (Piedmont Hills High, DeAnza College and Dominican University alumni) and I trained every day on how to be a point." Santos also offered thanks to Dom Pennix (Vanden High, Stanislaus State alumni) for always being there for me and pushing me throughout my entire high school career." Pennix is an assistant at Valley Christian.

His playing of three sports on a serious basis was trimmed to one, basketball, by high school. "I've been playing it all my life and I liked it the most because the pace was different. I played baseball until my freshman year." With a father who trains boxers as well as a cousin who participated in that sport in the 1952 Olympics, the pugilistic lure has always been there but it was decided that hoops provided the best avenue for Santos to earn a college scholarship and that strategy obviously proved accurate.

So what about Valley Christian this fast-approaching season? "This will be my fourth year on varsity and it's going to be by far the best team. We're returning a lot of players" -- both Santos and 6-foot-4 Alexander Sokol received West Catholic Athletic League Honorable Mention honors and 6-foot-7 junior Cameron Fini is also back. Plus, 6-foot-8 sophomore Jay Allen Tovar has transferred in from Gunderson. "We should be in the running for CCS and competitive in the WCAL."

Santos' best basketball moment came in a matchup last season versus Bellarmine, a 61-56 overtime victory. "We played at home and the gym was sold out. It was a silent night where the crowd stays quiet until we score a certain number of points. I hit a three to put us at six [points] and the crowd erupted. We were down by nine but came back to put it into overtime and we won by five. The fans stormed the court. I had 25 points, my best overall game." Three treys and eight free throws contributed to his total.