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YUBA COLLEGE BASKETBALL: A fresh start, new beginning
Just another day at the office for Doug Cornelius and Ken Griffin, at least, that's the trend.
The Yuba College basketball team is sending eight players, and maybe 10, from last season's state championship runner-up team off to four-year schools on scholarships this summer.
"It's pretty cool," head coach Cornelius said. "What's weird is I have three sets of two guys going to the same school. That's unheard of."
Spencer Butterfield and Sean Harris will play at Utah State, Cody Cale and De'Andre Robinson are headed to Humboldt State, and Victor Romero and Kevin Crabb will play for Baptist University in Southern California.
The recent signees will join Caleb Johnson, who will play at the University of Missouri at Kansas City (Division I), and Anto Olah (Simon Frazier), as the outgoing class of players.
Yuba City product Tyler Fry and Nick Alongi are still deciding on a school.
"It's been a busy summer, but I'm really happy for these guys," Cornelius said. "They're a hard-working bunch of kids."
Tack on recruiting, assisting the newbies with registration and logistics, playing daddy to his own two children, and yeah, coach "Corn" has had his hands full.
Now he'll begin a new process — getting a completely new set of players on the same page.
Twelve players exit, only one returns. Achoki Moikobu is the only player returning from last season's team. The backup point guard put in solid minutes off the bench and improved throughout the year.
Cornelius believes Moikobu will be right there competing for starting point guard, but he'll have to hold off an impressive incoming class of guards.
"We are very guard-heavy this year," Cornelius said.
While the program has undoubtedly captivated the Yuba-Sutter area with impressive success, Cornelius added that anticipating a season like last year's would be foolish.
"The expectations can't be what they were last year," Cornelius said. "What we did last year ... I mean, that isn't going to happen," he said. "We are almost all freshmen. Last year, we were all second and third-year sophomores.
"We are going to be way more athletic, but more immature. It's going to take them half the season just to get acclimated," he said.
Some of the new faces will include a couple of leading scorers from Jesuit High during the past two years, Akachi Okugo and Gary Melvin II. Cornelius is excited to have the "good character kids" on the team. Melvin has exceptional athleticism, and should have an advantage at shooting guard at 6 foot 5.
Former Kennedy High star Derrick West, this year's Optimist All-Star South Team MVP, and Center High's Chris Smith, this year's Optimist All-Star North Team MVP, will also compete for time at guard.
Cornelius said Smith could be one of the top three guards to ever come to the program and that West was the steal of the year.
Vic West, who gray-shirted with the team last year, was the Metro League MVP at Burbank in 2011 will also be in the mix.
"We're going to take our lumps early, but once we get to conference we should be OK," Cornelius said.
The frontcourt is still a mystery.
"We don't have a lot of height," Cornelius said. "We have some guys who will compete for spots, but we're pretty raw there."