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SoCal Prep & High School Preview

Jim Tomey's SD Uni: Walton, Walton, Walton,
Abramowitz & Co.--(October 29, 1997)

Jim Tomey is the head varsity basketball coach at San Diego University High. He's a native of Detroit, Michigan, and speaks with that classic mid-western Michigan/Chicago twang, so you know where he's from before he tells you. He graduated from the University of Michigan, and played his college ball at Eastern Michigan University. He's only 40. He's now in his 9th season as head coach at Uni. The thing that impresses most about him is his attitude: He cares about this group of guys, really cares about them. They're one of the most talented teams in SoCal, and most people are expecting big things.

Jim thinks he's done a pretty good job, and his record demonstrates he has. "In the last 6 years, we've built a pretty great program, and we think that even if no one new came along, that it would still be great for at least the next two years." When asked if he might one day like to coach at the college level, he responded by saying, " I might one day like to accept a different challenge. I've worked real hard to become a competent coach, and if another challenge should present itself, I might consider it." He was also quick to note, though, that he's not looking for a change any time soon. "I'm not trying to look too far ahead. This group of players we've got this year has set some pretty lofty goals for themselves, and I'm really dedicated to helping them achieve those goals."

Many believe that San Diego Uni is ready this year to take a CIF title, although Tomey wouldn't even come close to "predicting" this. They came close last year, and San Diego had some incredible talent last year, but they were overmatched and outplayed by the Collins twins and Harvard-Westlake. This year, however, with the twins gone to Stanford, Rico Cabrerra in prep school in the East, and a new crop of freshman and transfers, H-W doesn't look like the power that it has been over the last few years, and Uni may be in a real position to take advantage of the situation. Of course, there are a lot of other good teams out there who will be vying to knock off both of these squads, and we certainly don't want to make it sound like it's just a two team race. It's not; anyone might knock off H-W, including strong contender Chaminade, which is probably the favorite in their league this year, and Scripps might give Uni trouble again. For now though, in their CIF Division, Uni has got to be considered the front-runner.

The roster:

Luke Walton (Sr. F 6'8", 200 lb.)
Ron McMillan (Sr F 6'6", 170 lb.)
David Abramowitz (Sr PG 6'0", 170 lb.)
Carlos Cong (Sr G, 5'5", 140)
Kam Walton (Soph C 6"8', 185 lb.)
Chris Walton (Soph F 6'6", 175 lb.)
Carlos Quentin (Soph 6'-1' G)
Connor Hulburt (Soph 6'-3" SG/F)

Uni has had a few minor setbacks this pre-season. Mark Prior (Sr G 6'5", 210), who was a solid contributor on last year's squad, will probably forego basketball this year to focus on baseball; he's already committed to play baseball at Vanderbilt University. Prior will be missed because he was a very strong player who could put a body on an opponent; he was pretty big for a guard and had a nice touch, could play D, and was capable of hitting the J out to three point range. Likewise, Blake Jensen, a 6-10 Forward has transferred to Horizon High, a private division 5 school, reportedly so that he will see more playing time.

Uni will be trying for it's sixth straight CIF conference and sectional title. Tomey likes to play pressure defense, and will be looking to Carlos Cong again this year to contribute defensively. Seniors Luke Walton and David Abramowitz have recently committed, Walton to Arizona along with Ruben Douglas of Bell-Jeff (which with Bibby should make a fine front and backcourt combination), and Abramowitz to San Diego State (where he'll play with cross-town rival Vincent Okotie (6'-6" SF/PF) of Grossmont High, and Joe Mann (6'-9" C/F) of Poway High, which should make SDSU one of the top contenders next year in the WAC).

A lot of people have complained that Luke Walton was "soft", or that he wasn't developing fast enough. Don't forget he was a First Team All-CIF selection last year, and averaged almost 15 point per game, about 7 rebounds a game, and almost 3 blocks per game. San Diego is not in a particularly tough league (Acad. of Our Lady of Peace, La Jolla H.S., Mission Bay, Scripps Ranch, St. Augustine and University City) although there are a few good teams in this bunch, and in all fairness, Scripps came within one point of beating them 49-50 last year.

Walton has developed during the summer, playing in a few tournaments, including the Vegas Big Time tournament, where he impressed with his nice jumper and fine passing. He's really picking up some of his dad's old moves, both in the high and low post and rebounding, and it's no surprise that he chose to go to Arizona, even if UCLA might have been a more logical choice to those of us in SoCal. Sure Lavin needed a big guy, especially next year if Moiso doesn't show up, but he never really expressed the interest in Walton that he might have shown. Walton is not ranked that high nationally (for example Street & Smith's has him way down near the bottom of the ranked seniors), but 'rep means nothing, game means everything. And Walton has really impressed a lot of people this summer with his attitude and confidence. He should have no trouble dominating in league play this year, and with the fine passing from Abramowitz, and the support from the other Walton bunch, they should be pretty much unstoppable in their division. (That's my opinion, not Tomey's, who would only say that they're "going to try to win the division" this year).

David Abramowitz, is probably one of the top points on the entire west coast, and he should do very well this year now that he's committed to SDSU and can really be able to focus on the job at hand instead of the distractions of recruiting. He and his teammates showed up at the Long Beach Fall Classic and did very well (without Luke) against a team from Las Vegas. Abramowitz has more size and can use his body better than some of the smaller points rated ahead of him, this year; he's probably not as highly regarded as Ruben Douglas, but it would be interesting to see them matchup. He is a lightening fast passer who generally makes good decisions, but this year he'll need to work on his defense, which may have been the only weakness in an otherwise great package. Dave, you da' man.

The other Waltons should also impress this year, and expect to see them improve and build a nice base for their own junior and senior years. Chris Walton, who is a true power forward, is developing some good post moves as well; expect him to step into the center spot to play the 1 at either high or low post this year, especially with the loss of Blake Jensen. For this year though, he'll probably be concentrating at forward. Our view is that he will need to toughen up a bit this year. Chris is improving also, and he has the advantage of being a step faster than Luke, and the potential to develop into a real post man if he can develop his footwork. Kam Walton, Luke's cousin, is also pretty quick laterally and up and down the floor, but he's probably not as suited to the fast-break style of play that so many teams like to see their big guys run these days. He does have tremendous potential and all of the Walton clan are certain to be D-1 material.

Carlos Cong's real asset is his defense and his speed, although his shooting has vastly improved this summer. His biggest problem is that he's only about 5"-5" and he hasn't really grown much over the summer. But on D, he can match up nicely with some of the smaller points and SG's and with bigger men, can prove a terrific distraction. I always like to see a little guy down low, tapping the post man's leg so that he has to continually bend down to get the guy doing the tapping away from him. A great height-equalizer. Tomey is hoping that Cong will continue to play tenacious defense.

Ron McMillan should also be a big contributor to this squad. He's turned down a full ride from Sacramento State, and is still getting looks from D-I and D-II schools, and expects to wait until the spring to sign. Expect him to stay with Abramowitz if SDSU offers him a spot. McMillan tore the cartilage in his knee last year, but according to Tomey, he's jumping better than ever now, and will be at full strength this season.

New to the team this year will be Carlos Quentin (Soph 6'-1' G), whom Tomey described as a "very talented player" with a "nice fit" for this team. He's a "real caring guy" who plays hard. He'll probably be a role player this year, but Tomey expects him to be one of the key men in the next two years . Carlos is joined by Connor Hulburt, who at 6'-3" was described as a nice wing player with "excellent basketball skills", whom Tomey is expecting will step in nicely on this team.

I don't know if SDUni has the horses to go all the way. I do know though that Tomey is one heck of a nice guy, a good coach, and this group of players couldn't ask for a better mentor to help them achieve their lofty goals.

The Swish Award

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