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SoCalHoops High School News

High School Team Preview:
Campbell Hall--(Nov. 11, 1999)

"We've got a great group of young kids who are all part of the same system. We're all about building here, and we've built this team slowly from within, and if our kids play together this season, it will pay off." --Brian Haloossim, Head Coach, Campbell Hall 

We last previewed Campbell Hall two years ago, during the 1997 season, which as things turned out, wasn't a tremendously successful season for the Vikings.  So we passed on doing a profile of the team last season, which was probably a bit ill-advised since the Vikings had one of their best seasons ever, making it to the CIF Southern Section Division V-AA quarterfinals, losing only to Pasadena Poly by four, a team which wound up in the Championship game with the eventual State Champions, Santa Clara, and Campbell Hall finished with an overall record of 20-10.

Campbell Hall is a private, 4 year coed school, located in North Hollywood with an enrollment of 365 students, which participates in the Delphic League against Brentwood, Crossroads, Montclair Prep, Pacific Hills, and Whitney. The league is extremely competitive and has produced it's share of Division I college players over the years, including the most famous recent alum, Baron Davis, who is now playing in the NBA.  Now Baron Davis is certainly not typical of the kind of athlete you'll find at the smaller schools that populate Divisions IV and V within the Southern Section of CIF, but still there are some excellent athletes, and Campbell Hall will do its share of competing with them this season.

Brian Haloossim is the head coach, and he's been there since the fall of 1997 when he was hired to take over the program.  At that point things were in a state of what some might describe as "decline;"  at best the program was static, not really improving much, and not really expected to make much of an impact.  But in two short years, Haloossim has built a program which is worthy of recognition, and it's gathered a share of respect among other Division V-AA schools and coaches.  Haloossim is aware of the rumors that have circulated about how the program has been built, but he scoffs at them: "This is a school where we've built from within.  The school accepted only one transfer last year (Josh Levy from Chaminade) who also played basketball, and while he was an excellent shooter, we didn't wind up in the CIF Quarterfinals because of him alone, " Haloossim said.  "All the kids I've worked with over the last two years were attending the school when I got here.   Our goal was to slowly and steadily build from within, and I think we've accomplished that. We've still got a long way to go, but we work with what we have."

Haloossim is a SoCal native and a product of local schools: He attended University High School, then transferred to Beverly Hills, where he graduated in 1991.  He attended UCSB and then transferred to UCLA where he graduated with a degree in Sociology in 1995.  Both during and after his time at UCLA, he was an assistant for James Pellino at Pacific Palisades, a job which lasted four years.   During this same period, Brian was also coaching with the LA Rockfish, one of the top AAU travel team organizations in Los Angeles, and in that time he worked closely with Dave Benezra and Mark Mayemura, coaching within the Rockfish Spring League and on the road with teams at tournaments which included some excellent then-future college players, guys like like Rico Harris, Gordon Scott, Derrick Hodges, Charlie Pettit, Willie Allen, and Chris Ott.  Through his experience with Rockfish, he became friendly with a number of Division I coaches and assistant coaches, including Bobby Braswell, who at the time was an assistant at the University of Oregon under then head coach Jerry Green for four seasons from 1992-1996.  

"In 1996, Braswell was pretty active at Rockfish recruiting a couple of the kids I had been coaching, and over the years he and I got to be friendly," Brian recalled, "I was pretty surprised when he got the CSUN job because all along I thought he was going to get the job at Long Beach State (for which Wayne Morgan was instead hired).  But when he was hired at Northridge, he asked me if I'd be interested in coaching as an assistant, and I went for it," Haloossim said.   "I really enjoyed the year that I spent with Coach Braswell in his program. I think I learned more from him in that one year about how to run a program, how to build program, all the elements, including the integrity and character which can either make or break a program, than I've learned from anyone or anywhere else. The most important thing thing I got from him was that the learning and teaching aspects to coaching never really stop."

Haloossim also found out about the Campbell Hall opening from Braswell.  The way he describes it, Braswell was reading a local paper one day, when he saw an announcement for the opening. "He thought I'd be good for the job, and was really supportive when I interviewed with Campbell Hall."  Brian has been there since 1997, and this will be his third full season. "Campbell Hall is really a very classy organization, an extremely well run school with great academics. It's a school with a lot of character, a very athletics-friendly and supportive administration and faculty, and we also have very good facilities which makes it easier for us than for some of the other schools we play against in our division, who either don't have their own gyms, or who don't have administrators who are as supportive."   Brian is still single, but says he's "close" to getting married.  

Brian has not done all the coaching by himself during the last two seasons.  He's gotten some great assistance from Cleveland Jackson (who played at Georgia), C.J. Thompkins (who played at Columbia) and this year they've added a third assistant coach, Jason Conn who was an assistant at Canyon HS last season. "We're all young and we can relate to the kids pretty well," Haloossim said. "Besides being young, we've all got college coaching or playing experience, so there's really a lot of teaching which goes on, and given our relative youth, if we need an extra player for practice or to teach a special offensive play or some new defense, or a move, it also helps that we can do it and not just talk about it."

This past summer has been good for Campbell Hall, and the team went 30-4 in two summer leagues, participated in several tournaments and even managed to win one of the series of  Palm Springs Boys' Tournaments (there are four different weekend boys' tournaments, and four girls' tournaments hosted by Palm Springs HS throughout the summer). They've even attracted some attention from the local media.   Here's what Vincent Bonsignore of the LA Daily News had to say about Campbell Hall in the paper's November 1, 1999 sports section:

 

Campbell Hall, emerging basketball power?  Get used to it.  Third-year coach Brian Haloossim, Bobby Braswell's former assistant at Cal State Northridge, has quietly assembled an impressive array of talent at the small private school.

The Vikings reached the Division V-VAA quarterfinals last season, but the maturity of seniors Jesse Foster and Hassan Bassiri, along with the addition of impact freshmen Robert Locke and Derrick Williams, should push Campbell Hall into the postseason.

The heightened expectations have been received warmly by the Vikings. "It's been a little time coming, but we welcome (the challenge) because the kids really deserve it," Haloossim said.  Campbell Hall enjoyed a spectacular summer, finishing 30-4--including unbeaten stints in the Reseda and Cleveland summer leagues--while winning a tournament in Palm Springs and taking third at another in Las Vegas.  Foster,  a 6'-8" foot forward, and Bassiri,  a 6'-2" guard are the obvious leaders, having been in the program since Haloossim came aboard.  But clearly the play of Locke, a 6'-0" point guard, and Williams, a 6'-2" shooting guard, will take the Vikings to another level.

Whether Bonsignore's predictions turn out to be accurate is something that only time will tell, but there's no doubt that the team had a good summer. "I'd say we'd be even better right now had we not lost a player who was going to transfer to the school (Jerrell Hall, a 6'-4" Jr. PF from Birmingham), but his family moved to Houston before the start of the school year.  Jerrell played with us all summer, and it would have been nice to have him, but even without him we'll be good," Haloossim told us. "The four games we lost were all games that could have gone the other way.  We lost one to San Clemente in the Watts Summer Games [a single-elimination tournament], and then we played in the War on the Floor, and we were missing a bunch of guys. We lost there to Harvard-Westlake by one point, then to Pasadena Muir by 2 points, and then we lost to Granada Hills; but because there had been an error in the scheduling, Sylmar Coach Bort Escoto rescheduled it so we had a rematch with Granada and we won that one," Haloossim said. "I think as long as our players stick with our system, we'll be fine."

Here's the Campbell Hall team roster for 1999-2000:

Hassan Bassiri 6'-1" Sr. PG/SG
Robert Locke 6'-0" Fr. PG
Aaron Kerr 6'-0" Sr. SG
Greg Drobnick 5'-10" Sr. SG
Michael Womack 6'-2" Sr. G/F
Devaughn Nixon 6'-0" Jr. SG
Cameron Klippsten 6'-2" Sr. F
Derrick Williams 6'-3" Fr. SF
Jesse Foster 6'-8" Sr. F
Todd Bishara 5'-10" Sr. G

In the backcourt, this is going to be a mix of senior leadership and freshman talent.  Hassan Bassiri, who started at the point last season, will probably start at the two this year, while Robert Locke, the freshman will get the nod to start at point.  "Bassiri is an excellent scorer who can shoot the ball and create a shot off the dribble.  Last year we didn't have a real backup at the point, so Hassan had to really do a lot, and this year, by starting Robert at the one, it should take some of the pressure off him to bring the ball up and put Hassan in a position to do more scoring," Haloossim said. "Hassan is very offensively minded, and he'll work a lot better I think at the two than at the one, but we may also have him run the point at times too. He's a very good athlete, really smart, and he knows what we're trying to accomplish."  Haloossim also told us that Bassiri is being recruited by several eastern schools, including NYU, Lehigh and a couple of Ivy League schools. 

Locke and Derrick Williams will be two likely starters.   Locke is a slasher, a very aggressive defender with great court vision who can "definitely lead the team," says Haloossim. "He doesn't make many mistakes with the ball, and has very few turnovers. He can handle a lot of pressure, and is really tough.  We won all those games this summer with Robert at the point and Hassan at the two, so it looks like that's what we'll stay with," said Haloossim.    Williams, the other freshmen, is a prolific scorer, very athletic, "who can play with anyone, anywhere, anytime," says Haloossim.  Williams and Locke played together on an ARC team for many years, the same ARC team which went to the AAU nationals two years in a row, and which lost each time to an SCA team which featured former-ARC player Harrison Schaen (Mater Dei),  Trayvon Williams, Travonte Nelson (Fontana), and others.  "But they finally wound up beating the SCA team in a game down at Inglewood not too long ago. It was huge for those guys," Haloossim said.   "I think these two freshmen can be some of the best players ever here at Campbell Hall. They just need time to mature, but athletically, they are tremendously talented."

The backcourt for Campbell Hall this year will likely always have three guards and two forwards, and Aaron Kerr, another senior shooter will likely get significant time this year. "He's a phenomenal three-point shooter, one of the best defenders on the team, and is just a really solid role player for the team. He's a football player as well, and we're looking forward to him being a starter on this team," said Haloossim.  "During the summer he averaged about 12-13 ppg, and that's exactly what we want him to keep doing." Another potential starter will be Greg Drobnick, a good shooter who was a starter last year, who can drive and slash to the hole as well as step outside and take the long shot.

Two other players will also likely come off the bench in the backcourt:  Devaughn Nixon, and Todd Bishara. Devaughn, the son of former Laker Norm Nixon, is "the most improved player on team," according to Haloossim. "He came up from the JV's last year, and has just shown a tremendous amount of improvement. He'll definitely play, and is a solid defender, with a good handle who can also shoot the ball well."  Bishara is also a JV player who will provide support in the backfield as a situational player, mostly for defense.

In the frontcourt, Campbell Hall has Jesse Foster, who along with Bassiri also played in the Rockfish Spring League. He's a wiry, athletic player who has, according to Haloossim, also improved his game from where it was last year. "He's actually put on about 10 lbs of muscle, and he's really improved his footwork and moves around the basket.  He can now turn and drop step and make the shot, and he can dunk and is aggressive on the boards."   Foster is getting some looks from Creighton, Brown, UC Davis and a number of D-II and D-III schools.  According to Haloossim, neither Bassiri nor Foster plan to decide until the spring.  "This season could be really big for them, so we'll have to see what happens with their recruiting."  Foster will also get some help from Michael Womack, who will also play mostly at the three, and Cameron Klippsten, who is also really more of a three than a four, but both will be asked to provide some inside presence.   Womack is a solid rebounder who can play some post, while Klippsten is a very aggressive slasher, who can also play the post and shoot out to about 15' with good accuracy.

"If we have any weaknesses this year, it's that our bench is perhaps not as deep as I'd like," Haloossim said. "Jessie is 6'-8" but after him, we're not really tall inside and so we'll need to be scrappy on the boards. And if we get an injury or two, it could be a real problem."  But on the plus side, Haloossim is pleased with the outlook: "We're a very well disciplined team, and our guys understand our system and how to run it.  We're a very close team, with six seniors who will provide good leadership and skills. I think we'll have a really good year if our kids continue to build on their success and grow."

Asked about the Delphic League outlook, Haloossim was cautiously optimistic: "Crossroads is always tough, and Isaiah Fox will be hard for anyone to contain; Montclair Prep will be a tough opponent for us as well, because we beat them twice last season and with some of their new players and their old coaches back, they'll really be up for the game with us. And with Pacific Hills you just never know, they were very strong the past two years, but losing Ryan Abrahams to graduation has to hurt them."  And Campbell Hall's view of who's tough in Division VA this year?   "Well, Montclair is in our Division, Calvary Chapel Downey was tough with Tim Drisdom, and last year he went off on us for about 24 points, and that's not something we were expecting.  there are some other tough teams, but we'll just have to wait and see what the playoffs look like." 

This season, Campbell Hall has a very competitive schedule, and they'll be going to three competitive tournaments, the Beverly Hills tournament in early December, which is played at the "Swim Gym" (if you've seen the classic Frank Capra movie starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, "It's a Wonderful Life," then you'll recall the scene at the gym dance, where the floor opens up and everyone falls into the pool. . . that's the place.).  After Beverly Hills, they'll have two games against Burbank and Calabasas, and then they'll travel to the Reebok Holiday Prep Classic in Las Vegas. "Candidly, unless the tournament was split into 'Divisions' as it is this year, we wouldn't think about going.  We have Montclair Prep, Chatsworth, and several other local schools in our division, and we won't be playing teams like Oak Hill or Dominguez, so it should be very competitive for us this year.   You know, with a divisional-type of tournament, it's kind of like a playoff atmosphere and that's always a good thing. Besides, we'll get to see some of the top teams in the country without having to get our heads beaten in by them. There's really nothing fun about that; this way we'll have a good time and maybe get some wins too," Haloossim said.

Here's the full schedule for 1999-2000 for Campbell Hall:

Date Opponent Site
Nov. 30 Harvard-Westlake HW
Dec. 2 Canyon (CC) Campbell Hall
Dec. 6-10 Beverly Hills Tournament BHS
Dec. 14 Burbank Campbell Hall
Dec 16 Calabasas Calabasas
Dec 18-22 Reebok Holiday Prep Classic Las Vegas, NV
Dec. 27-30 Chaminade Tournament Chaminade HS
Jan 7 Pacific Hills Away
Jan 11 Crossroads Away
Jan 14 Brentwood Home
Jan 21 Montclair Prep Away
Jan 25 Whitney Home
Jan 28 Pacific Hills Home
Feb 1 Crossroads Home
Feb 3 Whitney Away
Feb 8 Brentwood Away
Feb 10 Montclair Prep Home

Whether Campbell Hall can take advantage of blending it's senior leadership with it's youth in the backcourt and remain injury free is something that only the season will tell. If they can, they're likely to wind up again in the playoffs and they could again go deep.  We'll be watching.

 The Swish Award
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