Last season the Big 8 Conference was one of the hardest races to project. The Big 8 Conference had five teams with a winning record. All five teams made it to the post season a year ago. Santa Rosa was also a team that played .500 basketball goal but failed to make the post season after winning the state championship two years ago. Cosumnes River went 12-2 in conference play and went on to win the conference by three games over Diablo Valley which finished second place. San Joaquin Delta, and Sierra tied for third place a game behind Diablo Valley. American River and Santa Rosa each finished with a 7-7 record and American River made a post season appearance. Santa Rosa, Modesto, and Sacramento failed to make the postseason last season. In the post season, Big 8 schools did not fair well despite having five teams with records above .500. The teams that participated in the post season combined for a record of 2-5 with Cosumnes River and San Joaquin Delta picking up 2nd round wins in the post season.

The 2015-2016 season projection leads us into several question marks as we take a deeper look into the conference. Diablo Valley will look to have an impact season as the Vikings return key pieces from last season’s playoff team. Diablo Valley lost Rico Nuno, Jelani Hardaway and Olajuwon Gardner, but return Spencer Clark, Jaque Carraway and big man Damion Banford and should be one of the teams at the top of the conference. Sierra returns Antonio Lewis, and Anthony Williams but suffered major losses (Preston, Piniero, Lemmon, and Moss) so it will be a youth movement for the Wolverines. Santa Rosa will look to get back into the post season as the Bearcubs will look to five returnees but also suffered a lot of losses in the offseason. Cosumnes River lost a big time coach in James Giacomazzi but will welcome in Devin Aye from Lassen. The Hawks will return Will White and have two sophomores listed on the roster so it will be a youth movement in Sacramento this upcoming season. Modesto could make some noise this season as all conference guard Zack Gonzales returns to the lineup after redshirting a season ago. Joe Hamilton returns the the Pirate line up as well after having a solid freshman campaign for Modesto. Sacramento will have seven sophomores and have the most experience of any team in the conference coming back. All Conference big man Brandon Rowden returns to the Panthers line up after having a stand out freshman campaign. American River will return three players to a team that made the post season last season. San Joaquin Delta will most likely be in rebuild mode, but don’t count out Coach Rich Ressa and the Mustangs.

Diablo Valley (17-13, 9-5): Diablo Valley will look to be a top team in the Big 8 Conference this upcoming season after winning 17 games a season ago. The Vikings look to be a team to beat as three key returnees come back for Diablo Valley. “6-7” sophomore Jaques Carraway leads the list of returnees coming back from a season ago. Carraway averaged 6.2 points and 3.4 rebounds last season for the Vikings. “6-4” Spencer Clark returns after averaging 5.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game last season. Throw in “6-7” Damion Banford and this could be a team that could make a run in conference and make some noise in the post season. Diablo Valley have six sophomores listed so experience will be a factor. Coach Coggimiglio is one of the best around and he puts his teams in position to win with the best of them around the state. You factor these things in, and you can see why Diablo Valley is one of the teams that we see doing well in this conference.

Returnees: (So) “6-7” Jaques Carraway 6.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, (So) “6-4” Spencer Clark 5.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, (So) “6-7” Damien Banford 5.8 points, 4.3 rebounds.

Newcomers: (FRRS) “6-2” Leon Williams (Transfer Solano), (So) “6-4” Reggie Arthur-Mixon (Transfer American River), (FRRS) “6-2” Troy Owens (Transfer American River), (Fr) “6-4” Steven Daily (College Park HS), (Fr) “6-6” Kevin Crosno (College Park HS), (Fr) “6-2” Remy Dillard (Bishop Manouge).

Season Opener: November 5th vs Butte @ Las Positas Tournament

Sierra (15-14, 8-6): Last season, Sierra had an up and down season. The Wolverines were one of our favorites in the Big 8 Conference last season but injuries got the best of the Rocklin based school. Sierra still made the post season with 15 wins and still finished tied for 3rd place in the Big 8 Conference. This upcoming season the Wolverines will have a lot of youth. Sierra does return two impact players as the high scoring Antonio Lewis returns. The “6-3” sophomore averaged 15.2 points and 5.9 rebounds per game as a freshman last season. Lewis is an inside outside type player that can flat out score the basketball. Lewis shot 42% from behind the three point line a season ago. Also returning is Anthony Williams. The “5-11” shooting guard can flat out shoot the rock. Williams averaged 7.5 points and 2.3 rebounds as a freshman. Sierra will be very young, but have some talent coming in to the newcoming season. Time will tell how the freshman will grow, but expect Sierra to compete towards the top half of the conference and possibly get into the post season.

Returnees: (So) “6-3” Antonio Lewis 15.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, (So) “5-11” Anthony Williams 7.5 points, 2.3 rebounds.

Newcomers: (GSFR) “6-3” Joe Harrison (Stockton, CA), (GSFR) “6-3” Anthony Spencer (Paso Robles, CA), (FR) “6-4” Eric Toles (Sacramento, CA), (Fr) “6-6” Jah Skelton (Australia),

Season opener: November 6th @ Sierra Tournament

Cosumnes River (23-8, 12-2): A year ago, Cosumnes River was not even on my radar in the preseason and it came back and bit our projections. The Hawks went 23-8 and went on to win the Big 8 Conference by 3 games last season. Coach James Giacomazzi did an outstanding job and Cosumnes River had a solid season. Fast forward to 2015-2016, Giacomazzi has moved to Las Positas and the Hawks went up north to find their new head man in coach Devin Aye. Aye comes from Lassen College where he had plenty of success in the Golden Valley Conference. The 2015-2016 Cosumnes River Hawks will only return one player from a season ago and will be a very young team as they will only have two sophomores. The Hawks will be learning on the go but they will be a hardworking unselfish team that are small and quick. Coach Aye described his team as a very deep team but the youth will be in question. Time will tell but expect the Hawks to be a very competitive team that could be in the upper half of the conference.

Returnees: (So) “6-4” Will White.

Newcomers: (GSFR) “6-10” Leje Thompson (Valley HS, Sacramento, CA), (Fr) “5-7” Mikey Murphy (Valley HS, Sacramento, CA), (Fr) “5-11” Johann Tate (Pleasant Grove HS, Elk Grove, CA), (Fr) “6-5” Gerad Anrus (Lafeyette, LA), (So) “6-1” Kenny Doss (Chicago, IL), (Fr) “6-4” Phil Morgan (Sacramento, CA), (Fr) “6-9” Bakari Bradford (Elk Grove, CA), (Fr) “6-1” Trevor Hooper (Fresno, CA), (Fr) “5-10” Michael Briscoe (Sacramento, CA), (Fr) “5-9” Leondre Lintz (Sacramento, CA).

Santa Rosa (14-14, 7-7): Last season Santa Rosa could not find any consistency and struggled to a .500 record after winning the state championship. The Bearcubs had their amount of injuries as well but still managed to finish in the upper half of the conference and missed the post season. The 2015-2016 Santa Rosa Bearcubs will have five returnees and will look to get back into the post season. The Bearcubs will surely miss Corey Hammell and the point guard play of Devon Oliver but Siaan Rojas returns, Jacob Wilson, Jordan Hickman, and Arnold Silva return to the team. All four players played minutes last year and will provide experience to Santa Rosa this upcoming season. Santa Rosa will be a competitive team as they usually are, but how high in the standings will they finish? Experience is always a plus, and in the Big 8 Conference it will be about match ups as usual.

Returnees: (So) “6-1” Jacob Wilson 7.1 points, 2.6 rebounds, (So) “6-5” Siaan Rojas 6.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, (So) “6-6” Arnold Silva 3.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, (So) “6-7” Jordan Hickman 2.2 points.

Newcomers: (RSFR) “6-4” Keil Long (Montgomery HS), (Fr) “6-5” David Nikklasson (Stockholm, Sweden), (Fr) “5-11” Michael Septimo (Montgomery HS), (Fr) “5-9” Alex Mostafavi (San Mateo, CA). (RSSO) Josh Douglas

San Joaquin Delta (19-10, 8-6): Last season San Joaquin Delta finished tied for third in conference and made a post season appearance. The Mustangs won 19 games picked up a playoff win on the road before losing to last years Cinderella post season team Foothill in the 3rd round. Moving forward from last season, the 2015-2016 will have to replace a three headed monster from a season ago, as three key sophomores are gone from last years squad. Jordan Belasco, sharp shooting Dwayne Lee and rebounding machine Troy Anderson are gone. Delta returns four players back but one with significant minutes from last seasons successful season in the Big 8. Sophomore Treyvon Merriweather will return to Delta after averaging 4.7 points and 2.5 rebounds as a freshman. Delta will also welcome back “6-5” Jamel Kelly who played on the Final 8 team a couple of seasons ago to add experience. It looks to be a rebuilding year for San Joaquin Delta, but Delta will be a competitive team but they will be a very inexperienced team that will need to pick up things quick to be as successful as they were a year ago.

Returnees: (So) “6-1” Treyvon Merriweather 4.7 points, 2.5 rebounds, (So) “6-1” Justin Nieto, (So) “5-7” Corey Demourelle, (So) “6-4” Zach Zeyen 2.4 points

Newcomers: (SORS) “6-5” Jamel Kelly (Redshirt), (Fr) “6-2” Alex Smith (Stockton, CA), (Fr) “5-11” David Lerma (Stockton, CA), (Fr) “6-7” Kashif Afzal (Tokay HS), (Fr) “6-5” Jovian Cromier (Herritage HS).

Season opener: November 7th @ Cabrillo College Tournament

Modesto (6-20, 3-11): The 2014-2015 Modesto Pirates did not have a season to remember a year ago. Modesto finished with six wins and had trouble finding the basket a year ago. Modesto averaged 57 points per game and had one player average in double figures. The 2015-2016 Pirates should be able to put some points on the board and will be an improved team for the upcoming year. Sophomore Joe Hamilton returns from last season, the “6-7” Hamilton averaged 6.8 points and 3.0 rebounds per game as a freshman. The biggest impact the Pirates may have is the return of Zack Gonzales. The “6-2” guard redshirted last season after being named all conference in the Big 8 Conference as a freshman in 2013-2014. Gonzalez averaged 13.9 points and 4.2 rebounds as a freshman and shot 38% from behind the three point line. Modesto will also have “6-2” Brandon Pope who transferred in from Cal State Stanislaus. Modesto should be an improved team and have a chance to finish in the upper half of the conference as this seasons conference is very wide open.

Returnees: (So) “6-7” Joe Hamilton 6.8 points, 3.0 rebounds.

Newcomers: (RSSo) “6-2” Zack Gonzales (Redshirt), (GSFR) “6-7” Michael Hatfield (Manteca, CA), (So) “6-2” Brandon Pope (Transfer CS Stanislaus), (Fr) “6-0” Mason Washington (Modesto Christian HS, Modesto, CA), (Fr) “6-4” Kevin Howland-Wolaridge (Bullard HS, Fresno, CA), (Fr) “6-5” Brandon Moss (Bear Creek HS, Stockton, CA),

Season Opener: November 7th @ Cabrillo Tournament

American River (15-11, 7-7): Last season American River had a solid non conference record and played solid basketball. American River opened up to an 8-3 record and ended up making the post season after having a .500 record in conference. Although, the Beavers suffered a first round loss to Foothill, American River had a solid 2014-2015 campaign. The 2015-2016 American River Beavers will return three players from a year ago. Marcelas Perry leads the list of returnees coming back this season for head coach Mark Giorgi. Perry averaged 10.0 points and 2.5 assist as a standout freshman a year ago. Austin Lobo will return to the Beavers this season after having a solid freshman year. Lobo averaged 7.5 points and 4.0 rebounds a year ago and will bring an inside-outside game to the Beavers. “6-8” Maalik Hazziez will bring experience to the table. Sophomore transfer Jason Williamson (son of Corliss Williamson) will bring sophomore experience to the table as well. American River will be in the mix of things as well with the conference being so wide open. Time will tell how everyone will play together but American River will be competitive and has a chance to have a decent season as well.

Returnees: (So) “5-9” Marcleas Perry 10.0 points, 2.5 assist, (So) “6-4” Austin Lobo 7.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, (So) “6-8” Maalik Hazziez.

Newcomers: (So) “6-2” Jason Williamson (Transfer), (Fr) “6-5” Trenale Belton (Capital Christian HS).

Season opener: November 13th vs Solano @ Shasta Tournament

Sacramento (8-19, 2-12): Last season Sacramento City College had a down year as the Panthers finished at the bottom of the Big 8 Conference with a 2-12 record. The Panthers won 8 games on the season and struggled to find any consistency a year ago. Sacramento will look to improve this season as the Panthers have four key returnees back from a year ago. All Conference big man Brandon Rowden returns for his sophomore season. The “6-5” undersized big man averaged 14.5 points and 5.0 rebounds in his freshman season. Arnie Vargas, Victor Rustin and Devin Joseph will be back for their sophomore season to add some experience. Joseph averaged 5.3 points and 3.5 assist as a freshman and will have a year experience under his belt. Sacramento with their experience should have a better season and have a competitive 2015-2016 season. Sacramento has seven sophomores listed and experience is key and I expect Sacramento to compete in the Big 8 Conference. Time will tell but Sacramento has a chance to finish better in the conference standings.

Returnees: (So) “6-5” Brandon Rowden 14.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, (So) “5-7” Devin Joseph 5.3 points, 3.5 assist, (So) “6-4” Arnie Vargas 5.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, (So) “6-4” Victor Rustin 6.6 points, 4.0 rebounds.

Newcomers: (RSSO) “6-0” Marc Burns (Redshirt), (Fr) “6-0” David King (McClatchty HS), (So) Reyshaun Jedkins (Sheldon HS), (Fr) “6-3” Josh Lewis (Granite Hills HS, Porterville, CA), (Fr) “6-1”  Bret Lynch (Mesa Verde HS),

Season opener: November 5th @ Las Positas Tournament

Early STLB Projection

When you look into the Big 8 Conference you might as well role a dice. There is really no stand out team that looks head above anyone else in the conference. Last season, the Big 8 Conference was one of the toughest conferences to get a read on and this year wont be any different. Experience is key when it comes to basketball and with that being said, each team has their share of quality returns but I think Diablo Valley is the team to beat in the conference. The Vikings return three standouts from a season ago and coach Coggimiglo is one of the best around when it comes to having his teams prepared. You cant count out Sierra as well. Antonio Lewis returns and sharp shooting Anthony Lewis will give Sierra some quality sophomore experience. Sacramento and Modesto will be improved teams from a year ago and I think Delta will be down from a year ago. Cosumnes River will have a lot of youth but if they come together they could be an interesting team as well. Looking below is how we feel the conference will play out but trust me with this conference a lot of things can change up until conference starts in January and most likely one game will separate how you finish in this conference.