Prep Preview and Report

Burbank High School
& Coach Quarterman--October 9, 1997

Coach Ron Quarterman is the kind of guy you'd want coaching your kid. He's seen some of the best come and go through the years, and he's coached many of the current or recent top prospects. His kids have played with and against the best players in the country in AAU national tournaments and other invitational and open events, and in CIF league and tournament play. His own son, a standout at Crespi High in the CIF Southern Section Mission League, who will now play (and certainly star) for Bobby Braswell at CSUN, was lucky enough to have him as the coach of his ARC (American Roundball Corporation) squads with the Collins twins and other top area players. He's coached some of this year's top recruits, including Ruben Douglas, who he coached at ARC and at Bell-Jeff just up the street where he spent a year.

Ron, who must be close to 6'-6" (or bigger), is himself a towering figure, with a quiet manner and a calm air that only experience can teach. And he's had lots of experience. Quarterman played his college ball on a full-ride scholarship at Montana. He never played a minute of high school ball, even though he was 6'2" when he graduated. In high school, he'd played football, until an injury sidelined him. Then he was in Virginia at Virginia Union and saw Dr. J play. Remember that this was when Erving jumped leagues to play for the Virginia Squires. Ron had never seen anything or anyone play like that. At Virginia Union, Ron decided to play basketball. He didn't have a lot of experience then, and there were lots of distractions, including the civil rights movement. At VA Union, he played against the ACC schools' freshmen teams, Maryland, Duke, UNC, NC State, and the rest, back when "freshman ball" meant something; when it meant that a Lew Alcindor couldn't play varsity his first year. Yeah, the ACC, the civil rights movement. Dr. J.. What an experience.

Quarterman told me that he also credits a family member who coached in Indiana with pushing him towards developing his game, which got good enough on the courts of Indiana and Chicago to earn him that full-ride to Montana. While he was at Montana, he was approached about turning pro, being asked to play in European League basketball for a team in Paris. But he still had a year and a half left to finish his degree. He got the degree.

Experience? You want experience? Ask Coach Quarterman. He'll tell you what gets a player ready for the next level.

Ask him what matters most and he'll likely tell you, "attitude, discipline, and hard work".

Hard to argue with.

I had a long conversation with Ron today, and we covered a wide range of topics, including his thoughts on just how good the past year's graduating class of top prospects had been, life and basketball in general, his efforts to get the most recent crop of ARC 14's in shape to play high school ball in the future, and about his upcoming Burbank High team, of which he had the following:

Juni Williams (6'0" G/PG Sr.)--Juni is a fourth year starter, described as "one heck of a talent". Juni can do it all: hit the J from 3 point range, handle the ball, quick on his feet, penetrate to the hole. Juni is also playing football for Burbank this year, and while he is being recruited fairly heavily will wait until the spring to make a decision. If he stays healthy, and keeps his game under control, he'll be the real deal. Most people didn't see a lot of him this summer because he was in summer school and holding down a job, and didn't get to make it to the camps. But be sure to see him during the season so you don't miss one of the area's best players.

Eric Rohwer (6'9" Sr C)--I've seen Eric Rohwer, and this kid is for real. Real big. Real strong. Getting quicker on his feet too and taking "agility instruction" from an attractive female dance instructor (something every big guy should do every now and then). Quarterman described Rohwer as "incredibly hard working", and told me that while many kids come to the fall conditioning with the idea that they'll only have to work the last few weeks out the the full 10 weeks, Eric (along with the rest of the team) has worked every day like it's his last. He led the league last year in blocks, but only averaged about 8 ppg, and in the minds of some recruiters that makes him only "good" and not great. I would certainly disagree, and so does Quarterman. Rohwer has gained invaluable experience from tournament play this summer at the Long Beach NIT and the Grand Finale, where he played with ARC. He's getting a lot of interest from the Pac10 schools, and you'll see him at the next level. And remember, he's still only 16 and hasn't stopped growing. He's got good defensive skills, a nice drop step. When he finishes growing into his body, he'll be one of the best big men around. Bet on it.

Johah Martin (6'4" Sr)--Jonah plays the 3 or 4 and has great range and good hands, and nice lateral quickness for a player of his size. He's also playing football right now, and if he stays healthy, he'll be a solid contributor this year.

Damien Curley (6'2" Soph)-- Damien is a new "hot prospect" for Burbank. Very athletic and pushing hard now during conditioning. Ron says that if the season started today, he'd start Damien, who did very well in freshman ball last year. Look for good things from this kid.

Hayg Balaisian (Sr. PG)--Hayg "gets it done", and will probably start at point and/or share duties with Williams this year. Balaisain has a good handle, is "real quick" and if he stays under control should be the floor leader this year, with Williams at the 2.

Michael Burton (6'-1" Jr.)-- Michael played very well this summer with the ARC II squad in tournament play. He's very quick, and can go inside or outside. Look for him at the 2 spot this year also. Quarterman expects to see big things from him and a lot of PT if he continues to work hard.

Erik Fontanez (6'-4", Jr.) Erik is a good shooter who can put up the J to about 17'. He was described as already having developed good defensive court sense and good court vision. We'll see if he can take his game up a level this season.

Jake Brower (?? Sr.)--Jake was described by Ron as a "shooter who carried the team in summer league." Jake broke his ankle last spring but appears to be back and in shape. Burbank will look to him to carry the team again in league play with his excellent shooting ability.

As for how the team will do, Ron expects that they will do better than their last year's league record of 5-5. About last year, Quarterman reminded me that it was his team which was defeated by Compton in last years sectionals, but that Compton was later required to forfeit the game when their leading shooter was discovered to be ineligible because of his age. Ron's attitude was characteristically laid back though, and he said "but, hey, that's done and over. Now it's time to get on with this year."

He described this year as one of the most "wide open" for CIF play in recent history, and told me that other coaches have also remarked to him that they can't remember a year where things have been this even among the better schools. This is a year where many coaches are telling him that "you'll have to come out of the gate quick, because whoever comes out quickest might not get caught."

But then I think Coach Quarterman really believes that it's not necessarily who'll be quickest out of the gate, but who'll work the hardest, be the most disciplined, who will play within their own system the best. Not who's the biggest hot dog, but who can contribute and play team basketball. That's what experience teaches, and it's what will get his younger ARC kids ready for high school ball, and it's what will take his high school players on to the next level. Experience, hard work and discipline. Hard to argue with that.

The Swish Award

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