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SoCalHoops High School News

High School Team Preview:
Washington Union (Fresno)--(Nov. 16, 1999)

"I think we're one of the best teams in the country right now. For a Division III team, we're as good as anyone, anywhere. We want to play the toughest and strongest teams, and that's why we've got the schedule we have. We're out to show that we can play with anyone and that we've got the best players in America." --Larry Trigueiro, Head Coach, Washington Union HS

Larry Trigueiro has got to be the smartest human being in Fresno.  Or maybe he's just the luckiest.  Either way, how do you explain a guy who has been in the farming business full-time since he graduated from high school in 1986, literally falling into one of the top high school coaching jobs in America?  There's no other way to describe how this former Washington Union High School player, who did not play any college ball, and who has been farming in his parents' and in-laws' almond, grape, raisin, alfalfa and hay businesses literally was drafted to be the head coach for the defending California State Champions in Division III, a team which has at least three top 100 players on the roster, and one of the top 3 high school prospects in the nation this year in Kansas-signee DeShawn Stevenson (6'-5" Sr. SG/SF).   This is a team which could arguably could be good enough (more on that below) to beat virtually any team in the State, regardless of Division, and which might actually be one of the top teams in the entire United States.  Larry's right. They're really, really talented.  Seriously scary.

But about the way Larry became the coach, he described it to us earlier this summer and again over the phone today: "Really, it was probably just dumb luck," Larry told us.  "I'm a Fresno native, grew up in the area and have lived here all my life. I attended Washington Union High School, and played here on our first State Championship team, the one with Jervis Cole, the one coached by John Pestorich (who is now the principal at Washington Union).  After I graduated, I took some courses at a local community college, but I really never even attended college: I went straight into our family farming business on a full-time basis. Someday, I'll probably go back to the farming business full-time, but in the meantime, while I'm coaching I'm going to go back to school and hopefully get a degree while I continue coaching."     But back to how he got the job. . . When asked how he ended up succeeding Vonn Webb, the coach at Washington Union for the past 6 years who is now an assistant coach at the University of Wyoming, Larry recalled, "I was always a big fan of the team after I graduated, and I continued to follow the team. When Webb got the job, I was friendly with him, and one thing led to another, and about that time I started to act as a volunteer coach.  At first it was just scouting the opposition, and then gradually I worked into being a volunteer on the bench.  At the time Vonn announced he was leaving for Wyoming, I was coaching the team during the summer, and Mark Jones, another Washington Union alum was really the number one choice of the selection committee to succeed Vonn.  I would have been fine with the school picking Jones, because John is a great coach.  But he felt he had a moral obligation to stay at Natomas, and said so, and so we were back to square one again looking for a coach," Larry recalled.

"Given the fact that there were some really high profile players on this team, especially DeShawn Stevenson, who I personally think is one of the best players in the country, a lot of people wanted the head coaching job," Larry told us. "During the entire search period, the school received interest from more than 107 applicants, from college coaches all the way down to junior high school coaches," Larry said. "One day, I was coaching during the summer, and the head of the committee simply asked me, "You want the job?"  and of course I said I would like it, but I had to think about it first. I needed to talk with my family first.  But the job was really attractive:  It was a combination of things, including administrators, parents and the players who all felt comfortable with me coaching the team," Trigueiro said.  "But before I actually informed anyone that I'd take the job I had to consult with my family. After all, I had a full-time business with the family, and I wanted to be sure that they supported me on this, because of course, one day I intend to return to that business. But the school wanted me to come on campus for a full-time job; it was the only way they would offer me the job.  I talked about it with my wife and in-laws, and everyone supported it, including most of all my wife," Larry recalled. "So I took the job, and it's been great."

About this year's team, Larry told us, "I've followed Washington Union's teams for many years, and we've had some really great teams, but this one could be, if everything falls into place, our best team ever.  I think we have a chance to be ranked as one of the top teams in the country, not just in the State, and I think we will be ranked very high in some of the national publications, including USA Today.  Really a lot depends on whether all of our players are cleared by the CIF Section to play, including two transfers we have right now, but if they are cleared, as I think they will be, we could be really, really good,"  Larry said. "We're a very complete team, very athletic, with good size, and we can get up and down the court extremely quickly. We've got shotblockers, shooters, rebounders, really the complete package.  Of course, we've got a lot of work to do, and we can't afford to have another December like we did last year, when we lost to some local teams in tournaments, but I think we're ahead of where we were defensively at this time last year, and we're definitely better offensively. Still we've got a lot of work to do. But we've got the guys to get it done."

Here's the roster for 1999-2000:

DeShawn Stevenson 6'-5" Sr. SG/SF
Antario Macklin 6'-2" Jr. G
Maurice Shaw 6'-9" Fr. C
Angelo Garza 6'-3" Jr. G
Marvin Carraway 6'-0" So. G
Fabrice M'Balla-Morgan 6'-7" Jr. SG/SF
DeShawn Anderson 6'-3" Sr. G
Archie Copeland 5'-9" Jr. G
Charles Perales 6'-5" Sr. F
Herve Jalee 6'-8" Sr. C
Jordan Brice 6'-1" Sr. PG
Dale Graham 6'-3" So. SG/SF
Adam Fain 6'-4" Sr. F
Clint Horne 6'-1" Sr. F
Keith Sconiers 6'-7" Jr. C/F

Even a glance at the roster tells you that this is a team that a lot of college coaches would die for. This is a very tough, physically strong, quick team, with size, speed, with a lot of smart basketball talent.  And it all starts with DeShawn Stevenson (6'-5" Sr. SG/SF).  Last year we wrote about DeShawn, quoting former head coach Vonn Webb, that Stevenson was probably a player without a position, or more aptly, that he was a player without regard to position.  Some said he was a point (and DeShawn himself was rumored to have thought of himself as somewhat of a point guard when he played with EBO this past summer).  But according to Vonn, "he's got a good enough handle and good enough vision, and in a school team setting, the right degree of unselfishness. . . to play the point; he's got a good enough perimeter shot that he could be a two; he can slash to the hole, drive, rebound, dunk, and do all kinds of acrobatics to satisfy anyone who wants him to play the three or the four; about the only thing we haven't seen him do is play center, and we're willing to bet that with a little practice and patience, he could."  With several guys standing 6'-9" this year, there won't be much call for him to post up, but it's still nice to know he's got the skills if it becomes necessary.  "I'll probably have DeShawn play the swing position, because it gives him the most freedom on the court to score and creat," said Trigueiro.  "DeShawn is clearly one of the top 3 players in the country in the class of 2000, and Kansas was just the right place for him," said Larry.   DeShawn signed his letter of intent last week at a press conference called for that purpose, and he's glad to have gotten it out of the way.  "Now he can concentrate on qualifying on the SAT and winning another State Championship without having to deal with all the phone calls from reporters and people wanting to talk to him.  I think it was a great decision on his part, and he'll be playing in a great program."   So just how good is DeShawn?  A better question is how good will he ultimately be?  DeShawn is probably good enough right now to seriously think about making the jump to  the NBA in the event he is unable to qualify on the SAT. Clearly he really needs to be allowed to develop his game at the college level for at least a couple of years.  But there's no denying that he's an unbelievably talented player, and he could make next year in the NBA if he needed to, that's how talented he is. He can dunk like an acrobat, and has one of the highest verticals you'll see in a player at his size anywhere; he can handle the ball, drive, dish, and he's got deadly accuracy on his shot way out beyond the three point line, and that includes way out beyond even the NBA three point line.  In one game at the Long Beach Fall Hoops Classic, we saw DeShawn score 11 three pointers in a single game, and most of those shots were from about 5 or more feet behind the arc.  He's been called a human highlight film, and that's pretty much true.

Other than Stevenson, who is really in a class by himself, the Panthers are, by position, one of the deepest and most talented teams we've seen in a long time.  In the backcourt at the point primarily but also at the two, look for Jordan Brice and Archi Copeland.  We saw Jordan several times this summer at the camps and he had an excellent summer, impressing a lot of people with his good ball handling an smart play.  He's actually one of the smartest players on the team. "He's just got a way of getting everyone involved and besides that he can score too," said Larry. He's got a nice midrange shot and is an excellent ballhandler, who is getting some recruiting interest from LMU, Eastern Washington, Sacramento state and UC Davis, and a host of other mid to low D-I's and some D-II's. He'll be joined at the point by Archie DePree Copeland. (actually everyone calls him "Archie". . . his real name is Archibald DePree Copeland). Archie is a football player, and has great court vision, good hands, and makes excellent decisions on the floor.  He's a very tough defender who has greatly improved his offensive skills over the summer, and he's really unbelievably strong for someone his size, which is his only real limiting factor as a point guard at the next level. 

At the wings and out on the perimeter will be four or five others, including Antario, Angelo, Marvin, the "other" DeShawn (Anderson), and Dale Graham.  Angelo is a three sport athlete who really excels in the open floor.   He's an excellent three point shooter who runs the floor and can defend. Antario Macklin is up from the jv's this year, and he'll be counted on for his aggressive defensive abilities, his tremendous verticality, and great rebounding in addition to being a potentially explosive scorer. Last year on the jv's he averaged 20 ppg and was the co-MVP of the team.  But the two players most likely to earn starting spots in what is really going to be a three or four-all-guard backcourt and perimeter, will be Marvin Carraway and DeShawn Anderson.  Marvin could actually be the next Top 5-10 player to come out of Washington Union. He was the other MVP last season on the jv, averaging 22 ppg, and he's a tremendously talented athlete, a player with excellent vision and passing skills who can play either the one or the two. He's got good lateral quickness and a very fast first step defensively.  DeShawn Anderson is already ranked as at least within the Top 150 players in the country in the class of 2000.  He's really a two guard, and can be a streaky shooter, and last year he played mostly at the wing.  Vonn Webb told us about Anderson that he was going to try to teach him some defense, because it was an aspect of his game that needed work: "He's the one who needs the mentality, to be a defender. When he gets that, he'll be unstoppable," Vonn told us last year.   Well, Anderson is not yet unstoppable, but he can score in bunches, and he averaged 15 ppg last season, bu had a sort of up and down summer.  Right now he's being recruited by a lot of high major programs, including UMass, San Diego State, Oregon and Arizona State, and he'll wait until the spring to decide.  Also vying for some time this year on the perimeter and in the backcourt will be Dale Graham.  Dale is a very talented young player, still just a sophomore who Coach Trigueiro describes as "The most fundamentally sound player on the team."  Graham is, he says, very good not only around the basket, but also out to three point range, and he has the definite potential to be a division I player in two years.

Up front at the forward spots will be Adam Fain, Charles Perales, Clint Horne, and a newcomer, Fabrice M'Balla-Morgan. Fabrice is likely to be a starter and he's a very silky smooth ball handler who can shoot the three and is likely to be a Top 100 player in the class of 2001.  He's a foreign student who reportedly is attempting to gain eligibility with the Central Section CIF offices, and we fully expect that if he plays that Washington Union will be virtually unstoppable down low and out to the wing.  Fabrice can shoot the three, slash to the basket and also post up.    A lot of schools have seen him and are impressed, including Fresno State, Kentucky, UCLA and San Diego State. Joining Fabrice will be Fain, a tremendous leaper and excellent rebounder. Adam shoots the ball very well out to 15' and he's another of the multi-sport athletes on this team, also playing outside linebacker on the football team.   He's also a true scholar-athletes and is being recruited by Harvard and New Hampshire.  Clint Horne is a returning role playre fro mlast year who has really improved his game over the summer, changed his shot mechanics and has also grown much stronger physically; he's getting a few looks from some D-III's and NAIA schools and will provide some rebounding and shot potential from the bench.  Charles Perales, a transfer, will likely be the first option off the bench for coach Trigueiro, and he'll play a huge role as the sixth man this season.  He's very strong, has good perimeter skills, can handle the ball and with his size can defend either guards or another teams quicker forwards.

Most teams at the high school level really don't have a center, at least not a true center.  Some of the better teams have one guy who truly knows how to play the position. It's the rare high school team with two centers, and it's even more unlikely that you'll find more than a handful of teams up and down the West Coast with more than two.  Mater Dei comes to mind, and Washington Union has got to be included in that elite group, especially with Maurice Shaw, Herve Jalee, and Keith Sconiers.   Keith is a returning player, who was wearing a size 15 shoe last year and he's grown some since. Keith had a good sumer and he's an excellent rebounder, strong around the basket with great hops who can nail the dunk or step out and hit the 17' shot.  He won't be the primary option at the post, but he will see time both at the 5 and the 4 this year. Maurice Shaw is a huge freshman who runs the floor extremely well for his size. Like some of his counterparts in the very talented incoming freshman class (Harrison Schaen, Richard Cobbs, Travonte Nelson, Trayvon Williams, Ray Reed, Wesley Washington, etc), he's way ahead of a lot of players his own age.  He's got tremendous potential defensive, is an excellent shot blocker and is improving daily, according to Trigueiro.  The first option in the post will like be Herve Jalee, a player who could be a real Division I sleeper. He's a very strong post player with good footwork and nice moves around the basket who also shoots the ball well.  He's also getting looks from Fresno State, San Diego State and Wyoming State, who are all battling for his attention right now.

Washington Union is certainly as strong as any team in Division III anywhere in the state right now, and we'd say that they are more comparable to other teams you'd likely find in D-I (Mater Dei, Poly, Artesia) and D-II (Dominguez, etc);  certainly they'll be as formidable an opponent as schools like Chaminade, Bishop Montgomery, St. Augustine, or USDHS could ever hope to face in the playoffs.   And really, with all that talent, you've got to feel for teams like Dos Palos, Mendota, Coalinga, Kerman, and Chowchilla, which get to play them twice during the league season in the North League of the Sequoia Division of the Central Section.  The question in our minds is not whether they'll be the Central Section Champions yet again, but which team they'll defeat in the Section finals.  We may be a bit presumptuous, and certainly some other teams can have good days, and as Washington Union discovered last December, even they can lose a couple of games if they're not careful. But we don't think that's likely, not with this group, and not this year.

Washington Union will be playing one of the toughest schedules around.  Here's the schedule fo r1999-2000:

Date Opponent Site Time
Nov 20 Panther Madness Home 6:30 p.m.
Nov 27 Scirmmage: Central, Edison, Lemoore Home 1:00 p.m.
Dec 1-4 BCW Battle of Central Cal--Buchannan/Clovis West Clovis 8:30 p.m.
Dec. 9 KMOX Shootout: 
WUHS v. Roman Catholic (Eddie Griffith, et al)
St. Louis, Mo. 6:30 p.m.
Dec. 15-23 Iolani Classic Honolulu, HI TBA
Dec. 26-30 Slam Dunk To the Beach Lewes, Del. TBA
Jan 8 Natomas-Sacramento Home 7:00 p.m.
Jan 12 Dos Palos Home 7:00 p.m
Jan 14 @ Mendota Mendota 7:00 p.m
Jan 15 adidas Double Pump Hoop Challenge
v. Bishop Montgemery at CSUDH
CSUDH 4:30 p.m.
Jan 19 Coalinga Home 7:00 p.m
Jan 21 Kerman Kerman 7:00 p.m
Jan 22 Clovis West Clovis West 7:30 p.m.
Jan 28 Chowchilla Home 7:00 p.m
Jan 29 Artesia-Poly SoCal Classic
WUHS v. Artesia (tentative)
LA Southwest
College
TBA
Feb 2 Dos Palos Dos Palos 7:00 p.m
Feb 4 Mendota Home 7:00 p.m`
Feb 9 Coalinga Coalinga 7:00 p.m
Feb 11 Kerman Home 7:00 p.m
Feb 16 Chowchilla Chowchilla 7:00 p.m
Feb 25 Central Section Quarterfinals TBA 7:00 p.m
Mar 1 Central Section Semifinals TBA 7:00 p.m
Mar 3 Central Section Finals TBA 7:00 p.m
Mar 7 State Southern Regionals TBA 7:00 p.m
Mar 9 State Southern Regionals TBA TBA
Mar 11 Southern Regional Championship TBA TBA
Mar 18 State Finals Championship Game TBA TBA

As you can see, the Panthers will start the season in December with three of the toughest events around. The Buchannan tournament was the site of their first loss last year, something Trigueiro vows won't happen again this year, and the tournament will draw the best teams from all over the State, including Oakland Fremont, Clovis West, and a number of the top teams from Southern California. The KMOX Shootout is one of the premier events of its kind in the country, and they Panthers will get to play Eddie Griffin, Marcus Tony-El and the rest of the Roman Catholic guys who played for the Tim Thomas Playaz this summer, and this will be a great matchup, pitting a team with the post-summer top player, Griffin, against a team with the consensus pre-summer No. 1 player, Stevenson. Both of these teams are quick, fun to watch and we won't even begin to predict the outcome of this one.  

From St. Louis, the team travels to Hawaii, for the Iolani, and then jets off to the other end of the country for what many describe as the top tournament in the country among preps, even bigger and better than the Reebok Las Vegas Holiday Prep Classic:  The Slam Dunk to the Beach.  Finally,  sandwiched in between league games, they'll participate in what could be a preview of one of the rounds of the State Southern Regional Tournament in March when they'll meet Bishop Montgomery at the Double Pump Hoop Challenge on Saturday, Jan 15 over the MLK, Jr. Holiday weekend.    Later that month they are scheduled to return to LA for the SoCal Classic, aka the Long Beach Poly-Artesia Classic at LA Southwest College.  While they are scheduled to play Artesia, there may be some tweaking of the schedule, and it's possible that they might see another opponent. at that one. 

And then there are the league games.  All we have to say is we're glad were not thos other teams. . .  No doubt in our minds though about the outcome of their league, and their section.  This is a team which will defend it's State Title in Division III, and we frankly don't see many other teams in the division capable of really meeting the challenge. There are a few teams who might, and of course that's why the season is actually played instead of just mailing in the results.   Anything can happen, and it's going to be a fun season watching the Panthers try for their second title in two years.  We'll be watching.

 The Swish Award
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