Last season in the first season of the newly formed Western State North Conference, Ventura came out on top as the Pirates took home the conference championship by two games. Ventura made the post season as an 18th seed and picked up a 63-56 road victory over Irvine Valley. The Pirates then faced 2nd seeded Compton and played very well before coming up short 86-80 in the 2nd round. Cuesta finished in second place with a 6-4 Conference record but the Cougars did not finish .500 and did not make the post season. Moorpark finished conference action with an even record but failed to make the post season as well after finishing with 11 wins. Hancock, Oxnard and Santa Barbara rounded off the bottom half of the conference and will look to improve this upcoming season. This upcoming season, their does not appear to be a clear cut favorite but it should be a competitive season in the Western State North Conference this season.
2017-2018 Western State North Conference Preseason Preview
Allan Hancock (14-16 overall, 4-6 tied for 4th place in the Western State North Conference): Last season, Allan Hancock finished with 14 wins and finished two games below .500 and missed the post season. The Bulldogs were an even 10-10 in non conference action and ended up finishing tied for a fourth place finish in Western State North Conference action. After missing the post season a year ago, Hancock will look to be in the upper half and should be an improved team from a year ago. The Bulldogs return only two players from last season, but coach Tyson Aye has to smiling as point guard Shane Carney returns after suffering a season ending injury a year ago. Hancock has added some solid front court pieces and will look to make a run at the post season for the upcoming 2017-2018 season.
Returnees: The 2017-2018 Bulldogs will return two players from a year ago and will look to improve from their 14 win campaign from a year ago. Point guard Shane Carney returns to the Bulldogs after suffering a injury last season. In 9 games last season the “5-9” guard averaged 13.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 3.6 assists for the Bulldogs. “6-4” Shemarr Parker returns to the Bulldogs for his sophomore season after averaging 5.5 points and 3.3 rebounds in 20 games of action last season. Parker scored season high 12 points twice last season and will provide experience for the Bulldogs.
Newcomers: Allan Hancock will welcome some solid newcomers to this seasons team. The Bulldogs welcome two sophomore transfers as ”6-2” Kevin Baines is a transfer from Richland CC (Texas), and “6-4” Devin Davis comes in from Colorado Northwestern Community College and both players will provide experience this season. The Bulldogs will have some size coming in as well as “6-9” John Riddick comes to Santa Maria after spending his freshman season redshirting at Barton CC. “6-6” Trenton Mitchell (El Diamante HS), “6-7” Mayowa Akinsanya (Amino South Los Angeles), “6-7” Spirit Ricks (Patterson HS), “6-5” Demetrius Searcy (Hoover HS), and “6-1” Glenn Jordan (Curtis HS) all are expected to contribute to the Bulldogs for this upcoming season.
Projection: The 2017-2018 Bulldogs should be an improved team from a season ago. Allan Hancock returns a solid point guard in Shane Carney and will welcome some size to their front court. It appears that the Bulldogs will be deeper and should be a team that will contend for the conference title and make the postseason after missing it a year ago. Although the Bulldogs lack a lot of sophomore experience and returning players, I expect Hancock to be one of the more improved teams for the upcoming 2017-2018 season.
Cuesta (13-15 overall, 6-4 2nd place in the Western State North Conference): Last season was a down year for the Cougars despite finishing second place in the Western State North Conference. The Cougars finished the year 13-15 and failed to make the post season. The Cougars were on track for a possible post season bid after starting Western State North Conference action with a 5-1 record, but the Cougars struggled towards the finish line and finished the season losing three out of their four last games in conference action. The Cougars lost six games last season by five points or less and will look to make a post season push this season after picking up 13 wins a year ago.
Returnees: The 2017-2018 Cuesta squad will return two players from last seasons team which won 13 games. Leading the pair of Returnees is Noah Saunders. The “6-6” sophomore averaged 12.0 points and 7.0 rebounds as a freshman while shooting 53% from the floor a year ago. Saunders scored a season high 29 points against Santa Barbara a year ago and the sophomore recorded six double doubles. “6-4” Nic Gabsch from Australia will also provide sophomore experience after averaging 4.6 points a year ago. Gabsch scored a season high of 20 points last season against Porterville and the sophomore will add experience to the Cougars roster.
Newcomers: The Cougars will welcome in two sophomore transfers that will provide experience. “6-6” Finn Whetstone (Yuba JC) and “6-6” Nico Gonzalez (Utah State Eastern CC) is a big win that can stretch the floor for the Cougars. “6-0” Jorge Bueno (Spain), and “6-2” Josh Wilson-Murray (Paso Robles) will be incoming freshmen that will play at the guard position. “6-4” redshirt freshman Spencer Bade (Shasta HS), and “6-5” Iker Cruz (Spain) will be freshman that could contribute as well for Cuesta this season.
Projection: After a down season a year ago which saw the Cougars win 13 games, it is fair to say that expectations are higher than last season. With a lot of international flair, Cuesta will be a team that could take some lumps early, but this will be a team that will improve as the international players get adjusted to the new style of play. The Cougars return two players, but have a standout in Saunders as he is expected to be a top player within the conference. It will be a learning experience but by the time conference comes around, we should see a team that will compete towards the top of the conference and possibly make the post season.
Moorpark (11-14 overall, 5-5 3rd place in the Western State North Conference): Last season, Moorpark won 11 games and finished the season three games under .500. The Raiders had a very inconsistent season as it was a season of streaks. At one point last season, the Raiders lost 9 of 10 but Moorpark finished out the season strong as they won their last four games of the season to finish .500 in conference. Moorpark went 7-3 last season in games decided by 5 points or less and the Raiders will look to be a team that will finish in the upper half of the Western State North Conference.
Returnees: Coming into the new season, Moorpark will return five players from last seasons team that won 11 games. Leading the list of returnees from last seasons team is “6-3” Elijah Holts. The sophomore guard was an all conference player last year as he posted 8.0 points a game last season. “6-3” Ethan Hermann returns after averaging 9.6 points and making 34 three pointers a year ago. The hard working “6-4” Nick Becerra returns for the Raiders along with “6-7” Garret Bilby and “5-11” Ryan McCarthy bring sophomore experience to the Raiders for the upcoming season.
Newcomers: Moorpark will look to “5-11” Keyan Bazargan (Oak Park HS), and “6-0” Cole Micek (Oak Park HS) to contribute as freshman at the guard position this season. “6-3” Keithan Juredini (Herritage Christian HS) will be an addition in the back court and “6-6” Justice De Corsi (West Ranch HS) will add some height to the front court for the Raiders.
Projection: The Raiders return five players to the equation and that could be key in the race within conference action. The Raiders will have two guards that played a solid role a year ago, and Holts and Hermann are expected to play a bigger role this season. We expect Moorpark to be a competitive team this season and finish in the upper half of the Western State North Conference.
Ventura (18-13 overall, 8-2 1st place in the Western State North Conference): Last season, Ventura College took home the conference championship and the Pirates were the lone team from the Western State North Conference to make the post season. Ventura picked up a first round post season victory over Irvine Valley and lost in the second round to Compton. The Pirates won 18 games and went 8-2 in conference action to bring home the conference title.
Returnees: Leading the list of returnees for the Pirates is “5-10” guard Isiah Reyes. Reyes averaged 14.4 points and 3.0 assists last season for the conference champs. The sophomore guard scored a season high 32 points against Cuesta in conference action and was second in the team in scoring a year ago. “6-1” Stephen Ntui, “6-0” Isaac Ramirez, and “6-3” Taylor Sturgeon all will provide experience for Ventura this upcoming season.
Newcomers: The Pirates will have two players that will provide experience for the upcoming season. “6-6” Malcolm Ruff comes in from Des Moines Area Commuity College and will give the Pirates sophomore experience. Sophomore “5-8” Jacob Alonzo returns back to Ventura after sitting out last season and will give experience to the backcourt. Alonzo averaged 7.0 points and 3.3 rebounds as a freshman for Ventura in 2015-2016. “6-3” John Williams (Josey HS), “6-5” Darrell Handy-Johnson (Maricopa HS), and “6-5” Terrell Handy-Johnson (Miracopa HS) will also be freshman that may contribute this season for the Pirates.
Projection: The Pirates return four players from a year ago and will look to be one of the top teams in the Western State North Conference. The Pirates return one of the best guards in the Western State North Conference and will look for other players to step up this upcoming season. The Pirates lost a lot of experience and scoring from their championship team but they still have a chance to be one of the better teams within the conference and challenge for a conference championship.
Oxnard (6-17 overall, 4-6 tied for 4th place in the Western State North Conference): Oxnard will look to improve from last season as the Condors struggled last season and finished with six wins. The Condors had a tough time in non conference action winning two games, but started off conference action winning their first two games. After a hot start in conference action, the Condors lost six of their last eight and finished tied for fourth in Western State North Conference action.
Returnees: Jakari McClain returns for the Condors after having a spectacular first year. The “6-4” sophomore averaged 19.3 points and 4.4 rebounds in his freshman campaign. McClain made 52 three pointers and shot 38% from downtown. “6-0” Kivaris Myrics will be another returning player for the Condors this upcoming season.
Newcomers: The Condors will bring in three players that will provide sophomore experience this season. “6-4” Lonnie Hinchen and “6-2” Daniel De Joya will be expected to contribute this season after redshirting a year ago. “5-11” William Blue comes in from Reedley College and will also provide sophomore experience. “6-2” Al Stokes will be a freshman expected to contribute for the Condors.
Projection: Oxnard will look to have a better season than a year. The Condors return one of the best scorers in the state as Jakari McClain returns, but who else is going to step up? Oxnard will have to find a way to compete on the glass as the Condors are not very big but have some solid athleticism in the backcourt. I project a mid pack projection as the Condors will be a competitive team this season.
Santa Barbara (5-21 overall, 3-7 6th place in the Western State North Conference): Last season, Santa Barbara won consecutive games in November, but following that the Vaqueros lost 13 straight and did not pickup thier next win until late January. The Vaqueros won five games the entire season and limped to a 3-7 record in Western State North Conference action. Santa Barbara will look to improve from their five win season from last season and a last place finish in the Western State North Conference.
Returnees: The Vaqueros will return one player from last seasons squad that won five games. “5-10” Drayton Howell returns for his sophomore season after averaging 8.9 points and 4.6 assists. Howell scored in double figures 10 times last season and scored a season high 26 points against Oxnard in Western State North Conference action.
Newcomers: “6-1” Jerald O’ Byrne returns after sitting out last season and will provide some experience for the Vaqueros. Other players that were listed on the showcase roster were “6-6” Donald Grant (Los Osso HS), “6-6” Dejon Jackson (Coronado HS), “6-9” Austin Lind (Santa Barbara HS) are all players that will provide front court size.“5-11” Aaron Mejia (Montebello HS), and many other guards were listed on the roster that may contribute this season for the Vaqueros.
Projection: Santa Barbara will lack experience as the Vaqueros return only one player from last season. Howell will provide the Vaqueros with sophomore experience but the freshman will be learning on the fly and that may hurt them early. We project the Vaqueros floating around the bottom half of the Western State North Conference.
Top Returning Players from last season in the Western State North Conference:
“5-9” Shane Carney (Allan Hancock), “6-6” Noah Saunders (Cuesta), “5-10” Isiah Reyes (Ventura), “5-10” Drayton Howell (Santa Barbara), Jakari McClain (Oxnard), “6-3” Ethan Hermann (Moorpark), “6-3” Elijah Holts (Moorpark).
Western State North Conference Projection:
1. Allan Hancock
6. Santa Barbara
It appears that the Western State North Conference will be a competitive conference this season as there does not seem to be a clear cut favorite. Although, Hancock does not return a lot of experience they are our preseason favorites. The Bullldogs have a lot of front court size and return a solid point guard in Carney which could be crucial throughout the season. Ventura is another threat in our eyes that could easily win the conference as well. The Pirates lost a lot of sophomores from their championship squad but reloaded with some athleticism and return a quality guard in Isiah Reyes for the upcoming season. Cuesta returns Noah Saunders and have a lot of international players that will learn the American game on the fly. Moorpark returns the most experience and we should not count out the Raiders as they have two solid guards in Holts and Hermann. Oxnard returns a high scorer in McClain but just like many other teams in the conference the question is who else will step up? Santa Barbara returns one player and will look to stay competitive in the Western North Conference. This will be a competitive conference as there is no clear cut favorite to win the Western State North Conference.