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High School Team Preview:
San Diego Horizon--(Oct. 29, 1998)

"I feel blessed just to be able to come to work here each day."  Zack Jones, head coach, Horizon School

Like Montclair Prep in the Southern Section Semifinals of Division V-AA, and Oxnard Santa Clara in the Southern Section finals, San Diego Horizon fell to Pacific Hills in triple-overtime in the Southern Regional Finals of the State Championship Tournament. "That's why we play the game. On paper our team may have looked better, but on that day, in that gym and in that game, they outplayed us and deserved to win. I have nothing but respect for Pacific Hills and what they accomplished," Zack Jones told us today. "But hey, thanks for reminding me about that game," he added with just a bit of sarcasm. Oops.

Zack Jones is, in addition to being the 5th year varsity coach, also one of the academic deans at Horizon. Jones was born and raised on the east coast, in Washington D.C., where he attended Eastern High and was named a high-school All-American, and was one of the top prepstars in the country at the time. But he wasn't academically ready for the big-time, and spent his first two years at a San Diego City College, and then transferred to San Diego State where he played for two more years. He then played for two years in the NBA, first for New Jersey and then for Cleveland, and eventually he ended up playing in Europe. Upon finishing his playing career, he returned as an assistant at San Diego City College for seven years, and then four years ago, he moved over to Horizon as the head coach. He's married with four children, three boys and a girl. His oldest son, Waheed, is currently playing at San Diego City College; his middle son, Zack, Jr., is on the Horizon team, and Dominic, the youngest one who is still in junior high is going to be the best of the three, according to Jones.

Last season Horizon Christian played in Division V, the smallest enrollment category in the CIF, but this season, Jones is contemplating a move up to Division IV.  "We're even better than last year, and almost everyone is back.  I think we can do very well against even better competition."Horizon plays it's league games in the Southern Conference of San Diego CIF, in the Coastal League, against schools like Army-Navy Academy, The Bishop's School, Calvin Christian, Francis Parker, La Jolla Country Day, San Dieguito Academy and Santa Fe Christian. Even though these are mostly small schools (the league is actually split between Division IV and V), they perennially produce some of the best players in the county.  And this year will be no different, as Bishop's, Country Day, and Horizon will fight it out on the floor again, and if Horizon moves up for the playoffs, you could possibly see two San Diego teams in the state tournament vying to represent the Southern Region at the Pond for the State Championship.

Here's the team:

Ronald Coleman (6'-8" Jr. C/F)
Jarrah Bolden (6'-2" So. SG)
Victor Schloss (6'-2" Jr. PG)
Zack Jones (6'-1" Sr. PG/SG)
Esaak Venegas (6'-1" Sr. PG)
Trevor Jensen (6'-7" Sr. C/F)
Ryan Fellows (6'-5" Sr. PF/SF)
Wayne Bernard (6'-5" Sr. PG/SG/SF)
Detrick Watts (6'-3" Sr. PG/SG)
Jorge Rodriquez (6'-2" Sr. G/F)
Seth Grandison (6'-2" Sr. G/F)

The team lost several players, notably 6'-11" Blake Jensen who graduated, and Chris Monroe (6'-9" Sr. F/C) who transferred to Granite Hills, but they picked up a few new guys along the way, like Coleman,  and while they don't have a huge guy like Jensen, 6'-8" will do very nicely, thank you. And if you compare this roster from the one that was in the Southern Regional Playoff program from last year's state tournament, you'll see that virtually everyone grew about two or three inches over the spring and summer, so this is a bigger, faster, and from coach Jones' point of view, hopefully a better team.

Coleman will anchor the post this year, and he's a transfer from San Diego Lincoln, and we bet the folks over there are real happy about that one. . .not. Ronald is a great defensive player, an excellent jumper who can effectively block shots and rebounds very well. He's quick and agile for a big man, and he'll add another dimension to an already talented team.  Trevor Jensen will probably start at the center position by virtue of seniority, but depending upon the types of teams and offenses they see, we're willing to bet that both Jensen and Coleman will be in together a lot.  Jensen is, at 220 lbs., very strong and has some great low post moves and a nice perimeter shot, so you'll also see him step out and play the four. He's very versatile, dunks well and can finish off the drive to the basket with either hand.   He's not getting a lot of attention, but by the end of the season, this senior will be a major D-I pickup for someone.

Swinging to the other end of the floor, this is a team which is loaded at the guard spots. At either the point or shooting guard spots, we'd expect to see Zack,  Wayne (who can and will also play the two or three), or Detrick and  frankly, we'd expect to see them  start, probably with Detrick at the point, Zack at the two and Wayne at the three.  Coach Jones describes them as the "best guard combination in the state. Period."  Zack (yes he's the coach's son) led the county in three-point shooting last season, and he scored more than 110 from behind the arc.  He was also the San Diego Section Division V Player of the Year.   Zack is a quick defender, with a smooth, high quick release on his shot, and he can either spot up or create off the dribble.  He's currently looking at CSUN, Pepperdine, Houston, Air Force and Navy, but doesn't expect to sign with anyone until the spring.

Wayne, who will principally swing between the two and three, is probably the best defensive player in San Diego County, and he's quick, athletic and can score from just about anywhere on the floor. Currently Wayne is looking at Davidson and Liberty University, and he'll take a visit there this coming weekend, and he's also getting some attention from San Diego State.

Detrick, who is the son of "Slick" Watts, another former NBA player for those of you who don't remember, is one of the fiercest competitors we've seen. He can also score and penetrate, and loves to slash to the basket and can finish well.  He's getting some looks from ASU, Pepperdine, Houston, Georgia, Hawaii and San Diego State, but like Zack, will wait until the spring to sign.

There are several utility players at the guard spots on this team, who might be definite starters on some other squads. Jorge is one of those guys who in addition to the guard spot, can play the small forward, wing, or power forward, and he will probably be one of the team captains and leaders this year. Jones believes he's actually the toughest player on the floor and he will get his share of minutes. He is looking principally at attending college in Mexico, and may get basketball scholarships from the University of Monterey or the University of Guadalajara. Esaak also saw limited action last year but will get his share of time this season. He's a quick, strong crafty player who can handle the point and distributes the ball well. He's a smart player on the floor, "crafty" was the word Jones used, and he will definitely be an impact player this year.  Likewise, two others, Jarrah Bolden and Victor Schloss will also use the season to gain varsity experience. Jarrah is a new student, having come in from the 9th grade at St. Stephens (in San Diego, 9th grade is still junior high, just like it used to be when we went to school here in LA), so he enters as a "sophomore" even though it's his first year of high school (and that's the reason you won't find any "freshmen" on this squad). Jarrah is a good defender and just "jumps out of the gym" according to Jones. Schloss has a great handle and will be groomed to become a starter next season if everything works out right. Schloss is a transfer student from Honduras, who actually attended Horizon two years ago, but then was home schooled in Central America last year.

Also at the wing-forward spot, look for Ryan Fellows, another senior who will add some maturity and leadership. He's a swing player who can do a bit of everything well.  He will see a lot of minutes and will use his slashing skills or driving ability to get to the hole, and at 215 lbs and 6'-5" he's got enough mass to move people out of the way. Another swing player will be Seth Grandison, who has a good outside shot , loves to slash to the basket and is a great ball handler.

The problem for this team will not be athleticism, basketball skills, or ability, because this is a deep, and talented team. The real problem will be for coach Jones to get everyone enough playing time to keep them all happy.  And he's aware that it's a problem, but he's not too concerned. "It's a pretty nice problem to have.  I think I can struggle through with it," he joked.

Horizon will open up this December at Westchester on December 3, against Verbum Dei at LA Southwest College.  Other games that day will include Crossroads v. Westchester in the 6:30 p.m. game, and LA Washington v. Long Beach Jordan.

Horizon will then travel back home for a week, only to return to Orange County for the Ocean View Tournament of Champions   from December 7-12.  While the brackets aren't set yet, this tournament has expanded to 20 teams this year, and some of the top teams in SoCal will be in attendance. In addition to Horizon, teams participating are Fontana, Ayala, El Modena, Santa Barbara, Crenshaw, Pasadena, Long Beach Poly, Mater Dei, Corona Centennial, Long Beach Jordan, Edison Huntington Beach, Redondo, Morningside, Serra, LA Fremont, A.B. Miller, St. John Bosco, Compton, and the Bishop's.

Then from December 16-19 & 21st they'll be at the 18-team San Diego Christmas Classic which will feature Long Beach Poly and Modesto Christian from outside San Diego, and local powerhouses such as Bishop's, St. Augustine, Poway, and others. This will be a great tournament, and may actually feature a rematch of the Modesto Christian and Horizon; Modesto beat Horizon in 1997 for the state Division V title, and Horizon would love to get back. The brackets aren't set for that one yet, but the tournament will be held at Grossmont and Santana high schools. Wade Vickery, the most successful girls basketball coach in San Diego section history, is in charge of the tournament, and the Championship game will be held at Grossmont High at 8 p.m.on the 21st of December.

Following that one, they'll travel to Ketchikan,  Alaska for the Clarke Cochrane Classic from December 26 to the 31st. That one will feature teams from all over, including Canada, North Carolina, D.C. (St. Alban's).

Horizon will be an exciting team to watch this year and if you get the chance to see them you won't want to pass it up. 

The Swish Award
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