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HS Preview: West Hills
Chaminade Prep--(Sept. 28, 1999)

"I'm very pleased with the team I've got this season. It may not be as deep as some of my prior teams, but we're going to be very good."-- Jeff Young, Head Coach, Chaminade HS

Chaminade HS is located in West Hills, CA, and competes in Division III-AA in Southern Section, and in league play competes in the Mission League, which is comprised of Harvard-Westlake, St. Francis, Loyola, Notre Dame, Crespi, and Alemany.  Chaminade is the current defending Southern Section Division III Champions, but they have not yet won that elusive State title, and they will face ever-increasing competition from schools in their Division, both at the SS level and at the State Regional level. "This year is going to be very interesting," Jeff Young told us the other day. "I think a lot of schools in D-III will be very tough.   We'll have our work cut out for us."

Beyond league competition, which also will not be easy as the Mission League has reached virtual parity with the exception of a couple of big men,  Chaminade will face stiff competition in Southern Section playoffs from schools like Bishop Montgomery, Morningside, San Dimas, and Pomona.  Even league opponents such as Harvard-Westlake continue to be a threat given the small size of the division (the entire Southern Section Division only had 8 teams in the bracket, as compared with 48+ in D-I and D-II).

Last season Chaminade breezed through the Southern Section playoffs (well, "breezed" is probably a bit strong, but they made it through) winning the Southern Section title for the second year in a row, beating Corona del Mar 45-40.  Chaminade then advanced to the State Regionals, beating San Diego St. Augustine in the first round, but in the next round, they ran into Fresno Washington Union and DeShawn Stevenson, and we all know what happened. "For the second year in a row, we got beat at the State Regionals," Young said.   "It's frustrating to get that close, but our guys played their hearts out."   Chaminade lost to Washington Union by a score of 95-69, and Fresno eventually went on to win the State Championship.  The year before Chaminade lost in the Southern Regional Final to the Waltons and USDHS, which also went on to win the State title.  At least if you're going to get beat, you might as well get beaten by the best. 

Jeff Young's vital statistics have been reported in our previous profiles of the teams, but they bear repeating:  He played high school basketball at Burbank Lutheran High, then attended Valparaiso for a couple of years where he walked on to the team; he transferred to Cal Lutheran, where he also coached following graduation.  He was asked to travel to Australia with Mike Dunlap (who is now at Metro State) to coach in the Australian professional league, but decided to stay home instead.  He was unemployed when he first heard about the job at Chaminade, and he grabbed it the minute it was offered.  Jeff  is a teacher as well as a coach (geometry). He remains close with his mentors from Cal Lutheran, coach Dunlap and former Simi Valley HS coach Dean Bradshaw.    For the past two years, there has been a lot of speculation and talk about whether Young would leave for a job in the college ranks.  He's been at Chaminade for 5 years, and this will be his 6th, and at least this year, he's not talking about leaving.  "I like it here, and I'm not really thinking about moving on to another job.  I'll stay as long as they'll have me here."

The past two years has seen an exodus of top senior players to graduation.  Last year the team lost to graduation Scott Long (6'-5" SG/SF) who is now at Navy,  Justin Beach (6'-6" SG/SF) who is at Moorpark JC, and Justin Stewart (6'-2" PF), all starters. This year the team will be without Cayce Cook (5'-10" PG) and  Darren Tarlow (6'-5" SF) who are both at Redlands University, Robby Tanouye (5'-10" PG) a backup to Cayce, Nick Lawson (5'-10" PG), Chris Canoles (6'-2" SG),
Clarence Mitchell (6'-5" SG/SF), who is attending Pomona-Pitzer,  and J.J. Todd (6'-10" C) who is attending UCSB and will most likely redshirt this season.

Here's what we've been told the roster will most likely look like this season:

Scott Beskid (5’-8" Sr. G)
Kevin Kang (6’-0" Jr. G)
Kyle Pietrzak (6'-3" Jr. F)
Shawn Pillar (6'-0" Sr. G)
Erik Johnson (6'-0" Jr. G)
Ryan Arceo (6'-0" Jr. G)
Tito Hill (6'-4" Jr. G)
Jordan O’Gilvie (6'-0" Jr. G)
Jeff Hufford (6'-2" Jr. G)
Scott Borchart (6'-9" Jr. PF)
Jeff Dey (6'-4" Sr. F)
Art D’Egidio (6'-0" Sr. G/F)
Jim Lefebvre (6'-4" Sr. G/F)
Jon Todd (6'-6" So. F)

The team returns several players, the most prominent of whom is Scott Borchart, who will anchor the middle and down on the blocks.   Much has been written about Scott this summer, and he's probably the most high-profile player to actually refuse to play in any of the summer tournaments or events on what is commonly referred to as the "AAU" club circuit.  He did not appear at any of the top tournaments such as the adidas Big Time, didn't go to any of the top exposure camps (neither Nike Camp nor ABCD), and he only played with his high school team in summer league games and at high school team camps like the large one held up in Santa Barbara in late June.  Some have called Borchart's strategy "suicidal" given the importance of being seen at such events by the college coaches in attendance.  But Borchart has decided to take a completely different tack.   "Scott just doesn't like playing for those teams.  They're just not his cup of tea,"  Young told us.  "He's been seen by several college coaches this fall, coaches who have come to our workouts, like Lute Olsen and others.   Maybe he'll play club next summer, but for now he really doesn't think it's that important to him."   Of course at 6'-9" he can afford to say it doesn't matter to him. Now if he was 6'-2" . . . . 

Whether that turns out to be the right thing is something that only Scott will later be able to say. There's no question that schools in the midwest and the east have probably not tracked him on their radar, not because he's not good or D-I caliber, but because he just doesn't go to the events they're attending.   When you're a college coach being paid in excess of $500,000 and your job is to recruit players who can help you get wins, you go with the guys you've seen, so whether this will hurt him is something only time will tell.  Of course there's video, scouting reports and newspaper accounts, and even seeing a player at the summer events often only affords college coaches four or five times to evaluate a player, hardly like watching a season, but there's no discounting the value that summer play has, and college coaches we've talked to want to see a player matched up against the kind of competition that he's likely to see when he gets to the next level, and like it or not, that's the kind of competition that usually occurs at these national "exposure" events during the summer, spring and fall, not in league play against teams that are sometimes badly mismatched (which is not to say that's the case at all in Mission League, just a general statement about club competition vs. league competition in general).

In any event, the big unknown for Scott this year will be just how much the summer with his high school team and away from club ball will have helped or hurt him, not only from a recruiting point of view, which just doesn't seem to be too important to him, but how well he will have improved over the summer. "He's been working every day on his game," Young told us. "He's been doing extensive weight training, and he's really going to be strong this year."  Borchart has always been a big factor on this team, but last season he took a lot of criticism from some observers for playing "soft" or trying to avoid contact,   and some said he tended to drift to the perimeter rather than using his body inside on the blocks and the boards.  Watching him last season as many times as we did, we would have been inclined not to say that he was "soft" but that he projected out more as a 6'-9" three man rather than a four or five; that assessment may still prove to be true, because he's very agile, quick, and likes to slash to the basket, playing face up rather than with his back to the boards posting up, and lacks only a true perimeter shot.  We'll have to wait and see whether he still plays the same way he did last year or whether he's reincorporated a nice drop-step move which he displayed his first year as a freshman but which he seemed to have abandoned last season.  

But whether he's a face up guy or a back to the basket man, there's no denying that he'll be the biggest and tallest player in the Mission League this season barring any incipient transfers to schools such as Harvard-Westlake which always seems to come up with a big man at the last minute (two years ago it was Dan Kinzer after the Collins twins graduated, but there doesn't seem to be anyone like that on the horizon in the Mission League this year.).  This year, other than perhaps Travis Johnson (6'-5" Sr. PF) at Notre Dame and some of the unknowns at St. Francis or Loyola, Scott will be "da man." 

He'll be joined in the frontcourt by several guys, including Jon Todd,  J.J.'s "little" brother, who Young refers to as a "potential star."   Unlike Scott though, Jon does play club ball, with the Los Angeles Rockfish.  He's got excellent size for a 15 year old, a great work ethic,  and lots of desire.   "Jon is getting better every day. He is good in the post with his feet and has good hands for a big man," Young told us. "He moves better than his brother did at this age, and we're expecting big things from him."  Joining them will be Kyle Pietrzak , a strong power forward type who is a good rebounder and an aggressive defender. Two other guys will figure prominently at the forward spots and out to the wings: Art D'Egidio and Jim Lefebvre, both returning varsity players.  Art is an excellent athlete, with great jumping  ability and good perimeter skills who will be a solid perimeter defender and rebounder this  season;  Jim is also a huge competitior, who has the ability to hand the ball, set screens and can shoot the outside shot or go inside and post up. "Jim does all the little things well,  like taking charges, recovering loose balls, setting screens and finding the open man for a good shot," Young said. "He's one of our senior leaders on this team." Jeff Dey will also join the frontcourt players as a returning varsity player. He's really more of a wing player, a strong perimeter shooter who has improved his game by strengthening his body, and Young said he'll look to Jeff for more of a leadership role on the team, to "be a leader by example," he said.

Chaminade has a number of really good backcourt players too, many of whom have not yet played at the varsity level, and like Scott are also virtual unknowns because they too have not, for the most part, played club ball either. Ryan Arceo is a returning varsity starter, who will most likely play the two spot, although he can handle the point from time to time.  He's got an effective outside shoter and he has developed a lot of confidence this past season in his rebounding and defensive skills. He's one of the smarter players on the team, a heady guy with a good feel for the game. "Ryan is always in the right spot and understands the game very well," said Young.  Arceo will get support from a number of guys at the two, including Scott Beskid, Shawn Pillar and Erik Johnson. Beskid is the "designated shooter", who will most likely come in off the bench to hit the three and bust up the zone; Pillar is one of the best pure atheletes on the team, a streaky shooter with good range and confidence to shoot; he's also got a very strong personality, a competitive, tough player. Erik Johnson is another returning varsity player who will challenge for a starting spot in the backcourt.  "He's stronger and quicker this year, so we'll see how everything sorts out," Young told us. " He's got good shooting ability, and good defensive ability, and Erik will take on a lot of  the 'leadership' role this season, vocally and by example," said Young. Finally, at the two spot, really more of a wing-combo guard spot, will be Jeff Hufford, who Young described as "one of my favorite players to coach,"  Young told us, "He has such a great   idea of what is going on during the game. He anticipates well and that makes   him a good defender, he gets position well which allows him to rebound well   and he can score in many different ways. I think he could be a great Mission League player this year and the year after."

At the point, Chaminade has no returning players (they also lost Ruben Sanchez, Jr (5'-10" Jr. PG), a strong, heady player who transferred to league rival Notre Dame this summer), and the Eagles will basically look to three players to run the offense, all of them juniors, and one who only recently transferred to the school from out of State:  Tito Hill, Jordan O'Gilvie, and Kevin Kang.  Tito was one of the few players this summer associated with the Chaminade program who participated at any of the exposure camps; we saw him at the Double Pump West Coast All-Star Camp, and we were impressed; he's got long arms, can handle the ball well, and he's fundamentally sound, but whether he'll really be asked to play point on this team or will fill in at the wing as a three is something that will be worked out in the pre-season and settled by the time league play starts.  His wing span can reach up to   8'-3" high, and he has a fundamentally sound outside shot, will take the ball to the hole strong and his talents might be better employed on the wing.  The other point guard candidates are  Jordan O'Gilvie, a solid point guard who can run the offense and defend the other teams point guard effectively and if we can make any predictions, having watched him growing up playing club and Park & Rec ball, we'd predict that he'll be the starter at the one when the regular season gets going.   Jordan has an excellent handle, great knowledge of and a feel for the game, is a great finisher, and can takes the ball to the hoop hard.  In short, everything you'd want from a good point guard. We would expect Kevin Kang., a very athletic point guard who is a great defender and able to run  the team with a lot of confidence to also take a run at a starting shot; we haven't seen Kevin play so it would be unfair for us to make any predictions with him, but we'd expect Jordan to give him a run for his money.

Young believes that this team may be one of the most fun teams he's had in a while.  Not necessarily the "best" but possibly the one he'll have the most fun with out of the 5 others he's coached.   "The thing that makes this team so much fun to coach is their competitiveness. They battle each other every day in practice and they love to play the game. Most of all they are all kids of strong character and  carry themselves with class. All the other success does not matter because of that,"  Young said. 

In the preseason, the team will first play a non-league game at Simi Valley on December 17.  They'll also play in three tournaments:  Dec. 13-18 they'll be at the Sonora Tournament at Sonora High School; Dec. 20-23 they'll be at the Rim Rattler Tourney in San Luis Obispo; and from Dec. 27-30 they'll host the Chaminade Christmas Classic, a tournament which has gotten better and stronger every year.

The season schedule is tough.  All the Varsity games are at 7:00 p.m. (the jv, if you're interested,  plays at 5:30 p.m.). Here's what the schedule looks like (games in bold type are away games): 

January

7 Crespi
10 Harvard/Westlake
12 Notre Dame
14 St. Francis
20 Loyola
22 Alemany
28 Crespi
31 Harvard/Westlake

February

2 Notre Dame
4 St. Francis
7 Loyola

9 Alemany

Chaminde is also scheduled to play in the Double Pump's MLK weekend "2000 adidas Double Pump Hoop Challenge, which is set for Saturday, January 15, 2000 at Cal State Dominguez Hills.  That one will feature Los Alamitos v. Ocean View, Redondo Union v. Inglewood, Mayfair v. Artesia, Mater Dei v. University (Irvine), Bishop Montgomery v. Fresno Washington Union, Serra v. Dominguez, Long Beach Poly v. Long Beach Jordan, Fairfax v. Westchester and Simi v. Chaminade.

We agree with Young, this will be a fun team to watch, one that will contend again for the right to make it to the State Finals, a team which could very well repeat as Southern Section Champs. It will be tough.  We'll be watching.


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