Rams look to continue dominance in Central Valley Conference

Last season, Fresno won the Central Valley Conference and they were one of two teams in the conference to make the post season. The Rams finished with 23 wins but had a disappointing post season losing at home as a four seed to American River. Merced made the post season last year after finishing 17-11 and earned the 14th seed in the post season. The Blue Devils lost in the second round to Yuba. Columbia and West Hills had solid seasons as well, as both teams finished over .500 but failed to make the post season due to the strength of conference in non conference action. Reedley, Porterville, and Sequoias all finished below .500 a year but all three teams look to have a chance to make improvements for the upcoming season. Cerro Coso had a rough season a year ago, and will look to improve and be competitive in a very improved conference.

2017-2018 Central Valley Conference Preseason Preview


 

Fresno (23-7 overall, 12-2 1st place in Central Valley Conference): Can anyone in the Central Valley Conference beat Fresno City? The Rams picked up 23 wins last season and went on to win another Central Valley Conference championship. Fresno continues to be in a class of their own in the conference and will look for another championship this upcoming season. Last season the Rams were upset in the second round of the post season losing to 13th seeded American River at home. The Rams will look to win another conference championship and look to go deeper in the post season.

Returnees: The Central Valley Conference champs return six players off last seasons championship team. Leading the list of returnees is “6-1” sharp shooting Tyus Millhollin. The sophomore averaged 15.7 points in his freshman campaign and shot 41% from downtown (72 made) last season. “6-4” Fred Lavender returns for his sophomore campaign after averaging 9.6 points and 4.4 rebounds last season. “6-5” Tommy Nuno (5.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 4.4 assists), “6-6” Eric Pierce (5.7 points), “6-5” Jess Spivey (7.3 points), “6-5” Zach Savage (6.3 points), and “6-1” Isaiah Flynn (2.9 points) all return to the Rams for the upcoming season as the Rams return a lot of players from last season.

Newcomers: The Rams will welcome in two college transfers to help defend their championship. “6-3” Georgie Dancer comes to Fresno after redshirting at Sacramento State last season. Fresno will also welcome in “6-7” Jared Small who redshirted last season at Metro State University. “6-4” Drew Cobb (Sheldon HS) is a freshman expected to contribute for the Rams in the 2017-2018 season.

Projection: Fresno has dominated the Central Valley Conference for a decade and a half now and the Rams seem to have the right balance for another conference title. Fresno appears to be the favorite again as the Rams return six players off the conference championship team and welcome in two quality transfers for reinforcements. The Rams have talent and appear to have solid team that could make a deep post season run this season. Fresno is the favorite to take home the Conference title and will be one of the top teams in Northern California.


 

Sequoias (12-16 overall, 6-8 tied for 5th place in Central Valley Conference): Last year, College of the Sequoias struggled to a 12-16 record and it was a learning experience for the young team from Visalia. The Giants will look to have a better season after finishing 5th place in the Central Valley Conference. The Giants will be an experienced team this season and they will look to challenge Fresno this season. Sequoias will be an improved team and should be a team to keep an eye out on in Northern California.

Returnees: The Giants will be a very experienced team as Sequoias will return five players from last seasons team that won 12 games. Leading the list of returning players is “6-2” Isaiah Johnson, the guard from Tehachipi averaged 15.0 points and 4.0 rebounds last year as a freshman. “6-3” Austin Armstead (13.6 points and 3.4 assists) and “6-2” Connor Tuttle (8.5 points) will add some depth to the backcourt for the Giants. “6-4” Kentrey Bynum returns for his sophomore season after averaging 10.7 points and 7.3 rebounds and “6-7” Trevon Bryant will also provide sophomore experience to the Giants this upcoming season.

Newcomers: The Giants will welcome in three redshirts that will have an impact this season. “6-4” Kody Wilson returns to the Giants after redshirting last season. Wilson averaged 7.2 points a game as a freshman in 2015-2016. “6-0” Solomon Taylor comes in from Cabrillo College after sitting out last season. Taylor averaged 14.1 points per contest as a freshman two seasons ago for Cabrillo. “6-6” Michael Johnson will suit up as well after redshirting a year ago and the Giants will welcome “6-4” Aleczander Check (Centennial HS) to the roster.

Projection: After having a losing record last season, I think it is fair to say the Giants have a chance to have a pretty good team this upcoming season. Sequoias returns a lot of experience and appear to have some depth in the backcourt. The Giants return two back court players (Armstead and Johnson) that averaged in double figures. The Giants lack front court depth, but Sequoias will be one of the better teams in NorCal this season. The question is do they have enough to knock off the top dog this season? We project the Giants having a solid season finishing right behind Fresno City this upcoming season.


 

Columbia (14-11 overall, 9-5 tied for 2nd place in Central Valley Conference): Columbia will look to make the post season after finishing with 14 wins last season. The Claim Jumpers finished second place a year ago but failed to make the post season. Columbia will be team that should fight for a post season bid but the only knock on the Claim Jumpers has been schedule strength within the conference. This season this should change as the Central Valley Conference appears to have some solid depth and if Columbia plays well, we could see them in the post season.

Returnees: The Claim Jumpers return one player from last season. “6-1” Jordan Windley returns to Columbia for his sophomore season after a solid first season. The guard averaged 9.8 points and 3.8 assists in his freshman campaign. Windley had a season high last season against Fresno City as he torched the Rams for 27 points and will be the lone returner for Columbia for the 2017-2018 season.

Newcomers: Columbia will welcome back “6-2” guard Marquell Hubbard. The guard from Florida averaged 17.1 points per game back in 2014-2015 season and will bring scoring punch to the Claim Jumpers. “6-3” Sophomore Al Burge comes in from Longwood University and will provide sophomore experience. “5-10” Maurice Woods is coming to Sonora after transferring from Fresno City and will bring depth to the back court. “6-6” Yosnier Cobas (Doral Academy), “6-6” Trey Porter (Foothill HS), and “6-4” Corey Davis (Southeast HS) will contribute and bring athleticism to the Claim Jumpers this upcoming season.

Projection: How high up will Columbia finish this upcoming season? The Claim Jumpers return only one player from last season and will lack sophomore experience, but this is a very athletic team. The addition of Marquell Hubbard and Al Burge will bring depth to the back court, but other freshman will need to step up in order to finish in the upper half of the Central Valley Conference. I feel Columbia will have a solid season and finish in the upper half of the conference and make a push for the post season in an improved Central Valley Conference.


 

Reedley (11-15 overall, 6-8 tied for 5th place in Central Valley Conference): Reedley will look to build upon thier hot finish to end the season a year ago. The Tigers return a solid core of players and will look to improve from their 11 win season from a year ago. Reedley finished in a tie for fifth place and will look to improve and make a post season push in an improved Central Valley Conference.

Returnees: The 2017-2018 Reedley Tigers will return four players from last seasons team that won 11 games. Leading the list of returnees for the Tigers is “6-6” Jeron Bowers which led the team in scoring and was an all conference selection a year ago. Bowers averaged 18.0 points and 3.9 rebounds in a solid freshman campaign. “5-10” Elijah Clark (4.2 points), “5-9” Elijah Jefferies, and “6-5” John Jamison will all provide sophomore experience as all three played limited minutes last season for the Tigers.

Newcomers: Leading the list of newcomers for the 2017-2018 Tigers will be “6-6” redshirt transfer Ruben Parks. The freshman will come from Sequoias and will suit up this season for the Tigers. “6-6” redshirt freshman Savion Johnson (Hanford West HS), “6-4” Hassan Bolden (Madera South HS), “6-2” Cohen Blythe (St. Josephs/Australia), and “5-10” Braxton Hicks (Edison HS) are expected to contribute as freshman this season for the Tigers.

Projection: Reedley will look to have a better season than a year ago which saw the Tigers finish off the season winning five of their last six in Central Valley Conference action. With the return of Bowers, the Tigers have a proven scorer and a talented player that has a year under his belt. The question is who else going to step up? If some of the freshmen grow quickly and step up to the plate, the Tigers could see a jump in the conference standings and finish in the upper half of the conference.


 

West Hills (15-11 overall, 7-7 tied for 4th place in Central Valley Conference): West Hills had a solid season a year ago, but failed to miss the post season. The Falcons had high hopes last season but never found any consistency throughout the 2016-2017 season. After starting conference action 4-2 the Falcons finished conference action 3-5 and any post season hopes went down the drain due to a fourth place finish. As we move into this season, the Falcons lost some quality sophomores but will look to finish in the upper half of the Central Valley Conference following a dismal finish to the season.

Returnees: The Falcons return five players off last seasons team that won 15 games. Leading the list of returnees is ”6-6” wing Darius Scott. As a freshman Scott averaged 16.0 points and 5.1 rebounds. Scott shot 42% from downtown and was 7th in the state making 85 three pointers. West Hills will return “6-3” Delvon Hightower, the sophomore averaged 7.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists for the Falcons. “5-11” Joseph Winder (6.2 points), “6-6” Landon Johnson (4.0 points) and “6-5” Xavier Sterling (2.6 points) all return to Coalinga and will give the Falcons some sophomore experience.

Newcomers: The Falcons have three incoming players that are expected to contribute for the 2017-2018 campaign. “6-2” sophomore Lloyd Hanna returns after redshirting last season. Hanna averaged 5.3 points in 2015-2016 and will provide the Falcons with another experienced player. “6-1” Richardo Time (Atlantic Christian) and “6-5” Eric Hollins (John Muir HS) will be freshman that may contribute this upcoming season for the Falcons.

Projection: West Hills returns five players from a team that won 15 games last season. The Falcons return one of the better scorers within the conference and two other players that contributed to their success from a year ago. West Hills is another team that will have experience within the conference but will it be enough to keep them in the upper half of the conference.


 

Porterville (10-17 overall, 7-7 tied for 4th place in Central Valley Conference): Last season was a very inconsistent season for Porterville College. The Pirates had a season of streaks. The Pirates suffered two different four game losing streaks and after being 7-4 and had a chance to finish strong, but the Pirates lost their final three games and ended their season with a 7-7 record in Central Valley Conference action and tied for fourth place. The Pirates return a lot of experience but will it be enough to push them into the post season and the upper half of conference in a much improved Central Valley Conference.

Returnees: Porterville will welcome back a lot of experience as the Pirates return six players from last years team. Sophomore experience is something that the Pirates can look forward to as “6-3” point guard Malik McCowan returns to the Pirates and should be an impact player for the Pirates. Last season, McCowan averaged 17.5 points, 4.4 assists, and 4.3 rebounds last season as a freshman and led the Pirates in scoring. McCowan scored over 20 points six times and had a season high 34 points twice last season. “6-1” Carlos Angel returns to the Pirates after averaging 10.2 points per contest as a freshman. Angel shot 44% from behind the arc and will be a player expected to contribute this upcoming season. “6-3” Tevin Howell will also be a returner expected to contribute this upcoming season for the Pirates. Howell averaged 8.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in his freshman campaign for Porterville. “6-3” Jackson Cascio (5.4 points), “6-3” Alonso Valle (3.5 points), “6-2” Elijah Mascorro (1.5 points), and “5-10” Steven Ulloa (4.0 points) will all provide sophomore experience to the Pirates for the upcoming 2017-2018 season.

Newcomers: The Pirates expect three newcomers to contribute coming into the upcoming season. “6-8” Brandon Thomas (Westhill HS) is coming back after a redshirt season and “6-8” Damoni Jones (National Collegiate) will add length to the Pirates squad this season. “6-3” Germaine Caldwell (Bakersfield HS) will be looked upon to contribute this season for Porterville.

Projection: Looking at the 2017-2018 Porterville roster, the Pirates will have two players that scored in double figures (McCowan and Angel) and Howell returns to the squad as well. The Pirates have plenty of sophomore experience as they will look to improve from their 10 win season a year ago. How far can the Pirates jump in the standings and will they have enough to push them into the post season? Porterville should be better than last season, but can they challenge Fresno and Sequoias toward the top of the conference?


Merced (17-11 overall, 9-5 tied for 2nd place in Central Valley Conference):

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Cerro Coso (1-22 overall, 0-14 last place in Central Valley Conference): The Coyotes had a rough first season as Cerro Coso won one game a year ago. Cerro Coso finished the season picking up their lone win against the California Lutheran Junior varsity team and the Coyotes did not beat another junior college last season. The Coyotes lost all fourteen games in Central Valley Conference action and had a tough first season. The Coyotes will look to pick up some wins this season after a non memorable 2016-2017.

Returnees: The Coyotes will return two players for the upcoming 2017-2018 season. “6-5” Kainoa Matthews returns to the Coyotes after averaging 8.1 points and 6.3 rebounds as a freshman. Matthews scored a season high of 25 points a year ago against Allan Hancock and also recorded double figures in rebounds three times last season as a freshman. “6-1” Abrian Dickson returns for his sophomore year for the Coyotes. Dickson averaged 5.7 points and 2.8 rebounds last season. The two returnees will be the experienced players on this team as the Coyotes will look to improve from their one win season a year ago.

Newcomers: Three newcomers are expected to step up for the Coyotes in the 2017-2018 season. “6-6” Cameron Redd (Knight HS) is expected to impact Cerro Coso for the upcoming season. Redd will be one of the better players for the Coyotes this season. “6-2” Ray Gonzales (Aquinas HS) and “6-2” Mark Moreno (Wasco HS) are both expected to help out on the perimeter for the Coyotes this upcoming season.

Projection: The Coyotes will lack experience again and will look to find ways to stay competitive this upcoming season. Cerro Coso won one game a year ago and fielded an all freshmen team but most of the freshman that played bigger roles did not return. The Coyotes do return two players but will those two have enough experience to help Cerro Coso improve. Our projection of Cerro Coso is towards the bottom of the conference as the Coyotes will struggle this upcoming 2017-2018 season.


Sophomore returning Players to Watch in Central Valley Conference:

“6-1” Jordan Windley (Columbia), “6-3” Malik McCowan (Porterville), “6-1” Carlos Angel (Porterville), Tyus Millhollin (Fresno), “6-4” Fred Lavender (Fresno)  “6-6” Darius Scott (West Hills), “6-2” Isaiah Johnson (Sequoias), “6-4” Kentrey Bynum (Sequoias), “6-3” Austin Armstead (Sequoias), “6-6” Jeron Bowers (Reedley),

2017-2018 Central Valley Conference Preseason Projection

Without having any information about one team it is not possible to make a fair projection for the upcoming season


 

The Central Valley Conference will be an improved conference from top to bottom. Will anyone be able to knock off Fresno is the usual question each season. Once again, things never change and it appears that Fresno is our favorite to win the conference. The Rams return plenty of players from last seasons championship team and will look to win another Central Valley Conference championship. One team that has a chance to challenge the Rams and could have a solid season is College of the Sequoias. The Giants have a lot of key pieces in place to make a run at the post season but will that be enough to challenge Fresno. Porterville,Columbia, Reedley and West Hills are also teams that should all be in the mix as all four of those teams return key pieces as well. Merced is a question mark as Signal The Light Basketball did not receive any information about the Blue Devils. Cerro Coso will look to stay competitive and picked up their first conference victory and in our eyes, the Coyotes will be toward the bottom of the conference.