November 4, 2011

Witzel stays home

Kevin McCarthy

Tom Witzel still has his senior year at Arcata High to complete, let alone all of college, but he will have a job waiting for him with the local Chamber of Commerce once his education is completed if he so desires because of his promotion of the Humboldt County way of life. Such allegiance played a role in the choice of his next school.

photo of Tom Mitzel

It's not often a high school prospect moves into the college basketball ranks and doesn't have to even change his zip code but that will happen for Witzel as he has cast his educational and basketball lot with Coach Steve Kinder and Humboldt State.

The 6-foot-7 forward actually gave his verbal commitment a couple of weeks back after whittling an initial list of 25 schools down to six before ultimately making his choice. The reasons for his final selection are many.

"It was a combination of a lot of things," Witzel explained. "One of my goals in to win games so I was looking for a program with a history of winning and Humboldt State is a great basketball program (the Lumberjacks are coming off a 26-4 season with 10 post-season appearances in the last 11 seasons). The coaching staff is great and I really like the Arcata area."

In one of those unique coincidences, Witzel's fifth grade AAU coach is a graduate assistant at Humboldt this season.

Witzel continued, "The school has my major (pre-med), I know everyone on the team by name and I've gone to school with one of Coach Kinder's daughters. He's a great guy. The proximity to home is a plus for me because I really like this area. Arcata is truly a college town and it's a mad house at the games. I was fortunate to grow up here and it's where I want to start a family when that time comes."

He related that there were some high academic level D-3 schools, D-2s and some D-1s showing interest "but it all came down to the best fit for me."

Lakeshow Coach Joe Fuca offered, "Tom is an all-around basketball player. He is one of the few athletes I have coached who is so big and yet so talented. Tom, at 6-foot-7 and 240 pounds, can really do so many things with the ball: shoot from anywhere, knock down all his free throws, pull up on a fast break, dribble like a point guard, and pass the ball like a true general. Tom is so driven to be successful. He is the most educated basketball player to be around, he knows everyone on every team. He truly is a basketball junkie. Tom traveled very far to play with the best players against the best teams. The reality is, he committed to one of the best Division II programs in the country, which happens to be 10 miles from his house. Humboldt gave Arizona all they could handle the other night with two former Lakeshow starters in Scott Clark (Foothill High) and DJ Broom (Castro Valley High). Tom will be a great player with a chance on making all conference after a year or two at Humboldt."

What does he see himself bringing to the court next season?

"The coaching staff wants me to replace senior Kyle Baxter, their 3 man who is a great player," Witzel explained. "I'll do my best although it will be hard to replace someone like him. I have a pretty good shot and they want me to be a versatile scorer, posting up and getting to the rack as well as being a strong rebounder."

He owns a 3.4 grade point average with a 29 on his ACT plus he participates in a number of extra curricular activities. "I've interned with our local Assemblyman, I'm the co-CEO of our student store and also the managing editor of our student newspaper."

What's interesting is that it was baseball, soccer and basketball for Witzel going into high school. but the latter won out.

"It came down to my love for basketball," he said, adding "it's something you can just go and do even by yourself. I like the freedom of the game."