Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Garrett heads back to Utah

Former Spartan Louis Garrett has landed at Dixie State University (St. George, UT which is his hometown) for his senior year. It's a school in the DII Pacific West Conference. He came to Washington Square from Salt Lake Community College.

There are problems and then there are good problems

With the additions of Jalen James and Rashad Muhammad, Coach Dave Wojcik has a problem. In a sense, it's a good one to have but how can he convince other talented backcourt recruits to come aboard?

James and Muhammad are going to play the majority of minutes so it has to be a difficult sell getting other guards to pledge since playing time is the coin of the realm.

Muhammad can and will play the wing some, especially once he adds strength and some weight, so there is a degree of opportunity for another talent to get on the floor.

It appears what is needed now are guys who can contribute but will accept roles as rotation players rather than mainstays.

Returnee D.J. Brown can help but will need to perform more as a distributor than shooter as his 2012-13 30% accuracy rate attests.

Here's hoping junior-to-be Jaleel Williams asserts himself on the wing as the athleticism is there but the skill set needs polishing.


The frontcourt situation is also fascinating because the starting spots are wide open.

A critical question: can SJSU land guys upfront with the potential of James and Muhammad? It's a difficult time to land bigs, even serviceable ones, since they are coveted and snatched up earlier than backcourters.

Spartan returnee Mike VanKirk should not be expected to be a starter at center nor play more than 10 minutes a game next season.

Chris Cunningham will probably become the starting five power forward -- at least that's the way it looks now but his 40% shooting in conference play is leads to questions.

Now the following may or may not be applicable: Boise State's top three scorers this past season were guards. The starter at the center position averaged 8.4 points per game and stands 6-foot-9 (meaning he's probably 6-foot-7 and a half). But keep in mind that's a program headed by Leon Rice and Coach Wojcik will have his own preferences. However, the Broncos finished 21-11 overall, 9-7 in the Mountain West Conference with such a lineup.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

So who is Ore Arogundade and why has SJSU offered?

Ore Arogundade is a 6-foot-3 2014 backcourter who plays at St. Viator High School in Arlington Heights, IL  and for the Illinois Wolves club team (the same one as Jalen James).

Scott Burgess covered Arogundade in action this weekend:
"This was the signature performance on the circuit Arogundade had always been capable of. He consistently stuffs the stat sheet for his high school team at St. Viator doing anything he has to do to win. Arogundade did just that as he had to step up with star Keita Bates-Diop in foul trouble. The junior started off aggressive from the jump attacking the hoop and getting to the line. His shot caught fire from beyond the arc and he could not miss.  One of his best plays was when he grabbed a rebound, weaved in and out of traffic, then finished an and-1. He hit the glass well and created turnovers on the defensive end. Complete game for the young guard in front of a large contingent of coaches. Arogundade finished with 26 points, 5 rebounds, 5 steals, 4 assists, and 2 blocks"
Here's a January, 2012 evaluation:
"...Upon first glance it is plain to see that Arogundade is extremely well-built.  Arogundade is strong, has a high motor and a tremendous feel for the game.  Not only is he highly athletic (he was also a wide receiver on the football team as a freshman), but he can handle, rebound, finishes well and is an effective passer on the break. 

Right now the only question mark with respect to Arogundade's offensive game is the consistency of his perimeter shooting.  Nevertheless, when we watched him at Wheeling he demonstrated that he has 3-point range..."
Utah State also recently offered. Drake previously extended an invite so new Spartan Assistant Coach Chris Brazelton is the connection here.

Arogundade scored 45 points in a March 2013. game.

Below is a 10-minute video of his junior year highlights:

Braxton Huggins

Very little has surfaced about San Jose State University 2013-14 basketball recruiting because the obvious focus of the Spartan coaching staff has been on filling the roster for next season.

With that proviso, the name Braxton Huggins has surfaced. A 6-foot-3 backcourter in the Bakersfield prep ranks, he averaged 23.3 points (48% overall shooting) and 9.1 rebounds this past season. he was selected by the Bakersfield Californian newspaper as a 2012-13 All Area team honoree, with this note:
His introduction was a 34-point outburst in a close loss to Bakersfield, but Huggins was explosive all year long, averaging a county-high 23.3 points per game, plus 9.1 rebounds. He hit the 25-point mark 11 times and was the South Yosemite League MVP.
Besides SJSU, Cal State Bakersfield, Cal State Northridge and Fresno State have also offered. It's impossible to tell if the Spartan offer is from Coach Wojcik or his predecessor but we will dig in to determine that status. The lean right now is the latter.

Anyone new in town this weekend?

Two big events are taking place this weekend: a round robin tournament of primarily northern California club teams is happening at City College of San Francisco and a similar one is being played down in southern California

Members of the SJSU coaching are certainly present at each one.

But does anyone know of any visits to campus by prospects this weekend? Forward Joe Boyd 'protects' his Twitter account so nothing can be gleaned from his posts.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Spartans are watching this kid

Here's someone San Jose State University will be looking at this weekend. Tough as nails (Coach Wolcik will love that) but how much PT can he earn with Jalen James aboard?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Joe Boyd

There sure is a lot of chatter connecting Arizona prep forward Joe Boyd and San Jose State University on the Inside Sparta basketball message board so it seems time to detail some background on the young man.

He gave a very early verbal commitment to New Mexico State but eventually rescinded it and later signed with Drake of the Missouri Valley Conference. However, the Drake coaching staff was let go (including now SJSU Assistant Coach Chris Brazelton) and Boyd was released from his letter-of-intent.

Here's a July 2011 note from Jason Groves on Boyd casting his lot with the Aggies.

Here's a 2011 note from Arizona Hoop Review on Boyd backing off from New Mexico State.

Here's an undated noted about Boyd giving Drake a verbal (with confirmation that Coach Brazelton was involved in his Drake commit).

Here's Drake athletics announcing his signature on the LOI.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Spartan fans gotta love this

The hearts of Spartans fans will go a-flutterin' looking at this:

Dorothy sez, SJSU isn't in the WAC anymore

San Jose State University basketball is now in the big leagues.

As Ken Cross reports:
The 2012-13 basketball season might be the year that the launch of Mountain West Conference basketball will be traced back to. The league put a record five teams in the NCAA Tournament and had Wyoming as fourth to the last team to lose as the Cowboys started 14-0.

The waters of the NCAA Tournament proved treacherous though as Colorado State and San Diego State were the only teams to pick up wins and then did not advance to the Sweet 16. Although the league had this amount of misfortune, it still did not deserve the pounding it took in the national media for it’s NCAA performance. The league as a whole had the No. 1 RPI in college basketball and the Rams, Aztecs, UNLV, New Mexico, and Boise State all had stays in the Top 25...
Go here for the remainder.

It may take some adjusting for Spartan fans but the Mountain West Conference opponents, from top to bottom, will have the capability of doing some serious in-conference butt-kicking. On one hand, it will be enjoyable viewing higher quality ball but the corollary is SJSU hoops is in major, major need of a serious talent upgrade in order to just be competitive.

So two down and many more to go. Here's hoping the frontcourters to be donning Spartan uniforms have the same sort of potential as the backcourt firm of James and Muhammad.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Selling a vision -- then making it become real

After a few years in charge, it's just impossible to sell a ground floor vision to a prospective hire unless dramatic progress has already been demonstrated. Even a morphing of Dale Carnegie and Zig Ziglar on their best days couldn't close such a deal.

After eight seasons, don't even bother.

So did you notice what Jalen James has been mantra-ing of late?
“...It’s a chance for me to do big things – start fresh with a new coach in a big conference and lead as a freshman,” James told Future150.com. “I think I can help build something special. It was just the perfect fit...”

“...The coaches have said they want to build around me. They want me to help build the name for San Jose State and help shock the world. We are going to get some big-time players in the future...”
Talk, of course, is cheap.

Actions are the true measuring stick.

The acquisitions of James and Muhammad registered on the collegiate basketball version of the Richter scale. Any future additions of even close to such a level of potential will surely have Spartan fans wandering around in a dazed state muttering "this can't be real, can it?"

More on Jalen James' signing

Garrett Tucker also interviewed Jalen James after his San Jose State University commitment.

A Jalen James interview

Scott Burgess @ Chicago Hoops interviews Jalen James about his commitment to San Jose State University.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Reasons now to believe

This is not any sort of an attempt to rain on the Spartan basketball parade held over the weekend -- in fact, there is no forecast of precipitation in sight.

The point of this post is that fans must be realistic.

Jalen James and Rashad Muhammad are not goling to have San Jose State University in first place in the Mountain West Conference next season.

Just ain't going happen.

Yes, their commitments are to be heralded and celebrated because such just doesn't happen at SJSU. We actually needed to double and triple check to make sure it wasn't some kind of internet hoax and a matter getting punked.

But the kids will be green, adjusting to day-to-day college life, the speed and physicality of college basketball and with a brand new playing system to learn.

Mistakes will be made.

Patience will be required.

The allowance for time will be necessary.

However, the remarkable difference is that there already are a pair of reasons for tolerance and equanimity -- let's bundle this up and call it hope.

Before it was standalone prayer for Spartan hoops fans.

Now, Coach Wojcik has already elevated reality two mighty steps up.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

'If Washington Square will not come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to Washington Square"

We're more than a little shaky in our religious interpretations so...

After returning to Las Vegas, Rashad Muhammad tweeted: "Feels good to be home but already missing that Cali weather!"

Whether (weather?) or not that played a role or how much of one, here's a hearty welcome to Mr. Muhammad as multiple sites are reporting that he has cast his collegiate lot via a verbal commitment to Coach Dave Wojcik and San Jose State University:

Ray Brewer

Alex Kline

Five Star Recruits


To be factual, SJSU has NEVER landed a pair of high school prospects offering such potential in the same class.

Muhammad and Jalen James bought into the vision of becoming the group of guys who will take Spartan basketball to a never-before-experienced level but, more critically, believe Coach Wojcik and his staff are the best ones who can get them prepared for play-for-pay hoops down the road. They would not be signing without the latter conviction.

Yes, it is important to remember the mantra regarding the best thing about freshman is that they become sophomores and that there will be a learning and adjustment curves for both Muhammad and James but the respective levels of what they can become is better than anyone -- other than Coach Wojcik -- could have imagined in any Spartan recruiting class.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Signee #1 for Coach Wojcik

From the Twitter world:

* Garrett Tucker: "2013 La Lumiere (IN) PG Jalen James has committed to San Jose State, according to his coach . MAJOR pickup!"

* Alex Kline: "San Jose State adds a huge commitment from 2013 La Lumiere (IL) PG Jalen James, a former Illinois commit"

* Finley Fuller: "San Jose State lands a commitment from La Lumiere 2013 PG Jalen James. Great pickup for Coach Dave Wojcik"

* Jimmy Durkin:"Looks like new coach Dave Wojcik is already making an impact by grabbing 3-star PG Jalen James, according to multiple reports"

Welcome aboard Mr. James.

Yes, playing time has to be earned but he will be the starting point.

Now about that Rashad guy...

Could it be? Can it happen?

One doesn't want to get ahead of reality (at least not too often) but a freshman guard tandem at SJSU of Jalen James and Rashad Muhammad would be quite the backcourt foundation-- something never before seen at Washington Square.

It's no accident that Coach Wojcik brought them to Silicon Valley together, the very least being it certainly makes concrete the synergy of them pairing up on the court. The passer (James) notches assist after assist by getting the ball to the shooter (Muhammad) when he's at his sweet spots on the floor.

Both more than likely have other visits pending but probably not together.

Hopefully their mutual experience here will be what seals the deal when their respective decisions are made.

James here this weekend

Jalen James has tweeted "On a Official with my boy enjoying San Jose St"

James is a 6-foot-2 prep point, long rumored to be tripping to SJSU this weekend.

Here's Brandon Ramsey (not sure of the date) analyzing James' game:
"Jalen, a former Illinois recruit, reopened his commitment over the summer and has had many schools inquiring. He is very explosive with the ball in his hands, great in transition. Jalen has excellent court vision and is a good passer. Playing for La Lumiere he is constantly playing against the best competition nationwide. He can be a great recruit for a mid or high-major program that still needs a point guard in 2013."
Below is video of James back when he was playing at a Chicago high school:

Rashad (not Shabazz) Muhammad aka ShawtySm00ve1

Not only is Jalen James on an official visit, so is Rashad Muhammad -- "On a Official with my boy enjoying San Jose St” yessir we out here!

Now Shabazz Muhammad certainly received an enormous amount of press and attention during his prep days and his sole 2012-13 season at UCLA, before he announced he's heading to the NBA.

Some know but many don't that he has a younger brother named Rashad, who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 170, with a sharp shot and excellent basketball IQ. He's a senior at a Las Vegas high school and looking for his college home.

A late March 2013 article contained the information that Rashad had offers Drake, Utah State and Wyoming and would be visiting the latter the following week. Drake changed coaches after the season so that offer may or may not still be valid. Utah State recently signed a pair of backcourters so it's likely the Aggies determined they were not in the running for Muhammad.

He has nice size for the shooting guard position and a quick release but will need to add some muscle to his frame.

Below is some 2013 video:

Friday, April 19, 2013

And then there were four

The official San Jose State University men's basketball roster currently looks like this:

* D.J. Brown

* Chris Cunningham

* Nick Grieves

* Mike VanKirk

* Jaleel Williams

So, freshman David Andoh and sophomore Stephon Smith will be moving on elsewhere plus Spartan Roundball has also learned that walk-on Nick Grieves will remain at SJSU but no longer participate in basketball.

Barring inheriting a roster that's resonates with talent, walking into one with a plethora of scholarships available is as close to the next best thing possible because a new coach can fill openings with prospects he deems as his type of players.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Dalante Dunklin -- a possibility

Now do keep in mind that interest can eventually result in an offer but as the Gershwins explained "it ain't necessarily so."

Todd Wickham/SoCal Recruit Spot tweeted this on April 13: "Touched base with San Diego hooper Dalante' Dunklin (ex of UCSB). He's been in contact with , , , , and "

Dunklin was a freshman at UC Santa Barbara until he left the basketball team two games into the season. As usual, plenty of speculation was posted around the 'why' of his departure but nobody other than the parties involved really know.

The young man is from San Diego so that may be a factor in his next college decision if he wants his family to see him play.

Here's UCSB Coach Bob Williams talking about Dunklin in November 2011:
 “He’s a stud,” Williams said.  “Like T.J. (Taylor), as soon as I went into his home on a recruiting visit, I was sold on him.  Dalante is a great young man.  He’s close to his family and is a joy to coach.  He is a very heady player and can play the point or the off.  He has done nothing but win during his career.  He is also a great defender who doesn’t back down on that end.  He’s the type of player a successful program needs.”
Here's Dunklin's Gaucho bio:
"Dalante Dunklin attended Francis W. Parker High School in San Diego, Calif….Selected Coastal Conference MVP and First Team All-Coastal Conference after helping Francis W. Parker to a share of the conference title…An All-CIF San Diego Section choice, Dunklin joined teammate Sam Beeler as participants in the county’s annual North-South All-Star Game…Also named conference MVP after his junior and sophomore seasons...Averaged 24 points, 7.1 rebounds, 7 assists and 2.9 steals per game as a senior…Chosen his school’s MVP in his final three seasons…Scored a career-high 34 points in a game against Costa Canyon HS during his senior season…As a junior had a career-high 16 rebounds vs. Army and Navy Academy...His best effort of 10 assists came against Canyon Crest HS during his sophomore season...Had seven steals vs. Canyon Crest HS during his senior campaign...Set school records for points, rebounds, steals and assists...Averaged 19 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals per game as a junior...Also averaged double-figures in scoring in his sophomore (14.7 ppg) and freshman (10.9 ppg) seasons...First Team All-Coastal League and Coastal League Defensive Player of the Year all four years of high school...Dunklin was chosen All-State and All-City following his junior and senior seasons...Helped Francis W. Parker HS to four CIF Tournaments, three league titles, one CIF Championship (2010) and one California State Tournament south semifinal."
Below is a 45-second interview with Dunklin prior to college:

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

What happened and what has to happen

The adage that hindsight is 20/20, like most asphorisms, isn't always true. However, it's still important to try and determine at least of some of the aspects that went wrong under the previous San Jose State University coaching regime.

No, not to try and pillage past individuals, this undertaking is meant to be a constructive exercise, an attempt at learning if you will, so that a witnessing to undesirable history does not repeat itself.

That's because we all need to learn what works, refute what doesn't, support the implementation of best practices and raise Cain when witnessing a falling back into previous backpedaling.

What spurred this post are two articles written by Jason Belzer of Forbes. He wrote one, Why Butler Basketball Holds The Key To Organizational Success, back on February 7. His most recent sports related piece, Boise State Football And The Blueprint For Organizational Greatness, appeared on the fourth of this month.

An excerpt from the former:
"...Watch any Butler game and something becomes immediately clear – many of the players on the court are of the type that don’t score often, grab many rebounds or do anything else particularly well and whose statistics are, at best, average. Certainly they have had talented players on their roster, but none have been highly rated coming out of high school. Yet the Bulldogs time and again are able to match their athletically superior opponents shot for shot. It is the ultimate manifestation of system in which the whole far outweighs the sum of its parts..."
From the latter comes Head Coach Chris Petersen speaking:
“If you fall in love with talent, you’re making a big mistake. You have to fall in love with the person first and foremost because you can only change someone so much. We have to be mindful of falling into the trappings of looking for great [football] talent and instead go recruit an OKG [Our Kinda Guy] and make him a football player.”
Do read both articles now and then return as any attempt at summarizing them will fall incomplete.

Beyond saboteurs and that certainly doesn't apply here, nobody starts out with an intention to fail. It's all smiles and well wishes and a "let's get something going" mood. With the hiring of Coach Nessman, a sense of momentum was in the air.

The SJSU basketball program desperately needed a new and better culture and an honest and earnest attempt was made to achieve just that. Little by little, the team's APR, which at the beginning was moving southbound at the speed of Usain Bolt, did an about face. Basketball student-athletes started fulfilling both the roles of the former and the latter and ultimately that became the biggest achievement of the Nessman coaching staff.

A fresh start allowed the opportunity to call upon prospects and sell the opportunity of getting in on the ground floor. "Become part of the group that transformed Spartan basketball" was the selling point.

The best example: Ripon High talent Justin Graham bought in and climbed on to what was hopefully to become a bandwagon destined north.

But Graham excepted, what proved to be too many gambles, both in the areas of talent and willingness to become a we-not-I guy, were also taken.

And that proved deadly as the budding culture stagnated and eventually reverted.

Plus, there's no need to name names or recite chapter-and-verse but far too many Spartan recruits departed with or very close to the skills sets they entered Washington Square with and no program can succeed with that as its testimony.

Additionally, key talents never achieved -- if attempts were made in the first place -- the role of making their teammates more effective.

It was too much "me, me, me" as individual visions, some might say fantasies, of a play-for-pay future corrupted the collective present.

When the wins didn't arrive in the numbers necessary to add impetus alongside the momentum of newness, the program became stuck, containing nothing attractive and distinctive to offer to prospects. Enough of the right guys weren't interested in casting their respective lots in Silicon Valley so risky long shots became the signee norm and the situation became a familiar return to bringing in so-called mercenaries whose allegiance was primarily guided by their passion for Narcissus.

So now a new opportunity awaits SJSU basketball, one with Dave Wojcik as the leader.

Can he, where so many others haven failed, create a veritable band of brothers who can and will proudly display first and foremost their allegiance to one another?

A hopefully telling point is that Chris Petersen was an individual Coach Wojcik talked with prior to his acceptance of the position.

Time will tell as moving forward as one will be necessary because Spartan hoops cannot be successful without that critical element.

It's never going to be a matter of landing four and five star blue chippers here. Instead, it will be courting and landing those talented enough or with the promise of such who will buy into acting together, as a team, with a unified goal.

Creating such an atmosphere and then riding this 1+1=3 synergy to success is the sole route open and available for the San Jose State University program to travel.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

SJSU and Gabe Vincent

St. Mary's High (Stockton) Gabe Vincent has an offer from SJSU as well as Portland, Sacramento State and Utah State.

The 6-foot-2, 170-pound Vincent is a 2014 prospect and described at ESPN as:
"Vincent is a solid looking scoring guard for the next level. He is a natural scorer with a smooth jump shot (gets great lift on his shot) and his release is smooth. He can slash his way to the rim as well..."
From the St. Mary's High site:

"Gabe Vincent, the high-scoring and humble St. Mary’s junior who led the Rams to the Tri-City Athletic League title and earned the league’s MVP award was named to The Record’s All Area First Team. Gave averaged 20.9 points and 7.6 rebounds while scoring 20 points or more St. Mary’s in the final 11 games."
He plays for the Oakland Soldiers club team in the spring and summer.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Garrett departing the Spartans

Add Louis Garrett to the names of the SJSU's players who won't be returning. He averaged 6.9 points and 2.3 rebounds a game last season, shooting 35%, 29% and 71% respectively.

A good example

Substitute Dave Wojcik's name for Chris Collins in this article and you'll have a good sense of what the former's Washington Square life is like right now (although Wojcik isn't returning home).

Friday, April 12, 2013

Signing period opens soon

The National Letter of Intent period -- meaning the first day prospective recruits can officially sign with a college -- starts April 17 and goes until May 15.

Typically, a new coach has to write off his initial signing period because of the late start in rounding up prospects but let's see if Coach Wojcik and his assistants can turn that phenomenon on its head.

Coach Wojcik's trio of assistants

So we now know the Spartan coaching staff and all three have obvious connections to northern California.

* Coming over from USF, Jack Kennedy will have familiarity with all of the Golden State as well as other ones around the country since Dons Coach Rex Walters recruits nationally (signees from Oklahoma, Florida, Texas, Arizona and Oregon).

* Chris Brazelton grew up in southern California and has ties up here from when he was recruiting for UC Riverside -- the Highlander roster is loaded with players from throughout the state. His one season at Drake may have allowed time for the development of some Midwest contacts but that remains to be determined.

* 'Recruiting coordinator' was Omar Lowery's subtitle at Cal Poly and, while out of Wisconsin, his former head coach offered this in his Mustangs bio: "Omar is one of the most well-respected and connected recruiters in Texas, Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin..." The CP roster contains both northern California and southern California members.

The one element that MAY be missing is a strong X's-and-O's assistant (it's a difficult component to distill from what's detailed in bios). But Coach Wojcik has definitely focused on surrounding himself with recruiters so it will be interesting to see how many of the 13 scholarships can be used for out-of-state prospects.

Media on Omar Lowery

Joshua Scroggins profiles new San Jose State University Assistant Coach Omar Lowery.

Cal Poly athletics dittos.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The third SJSU assistant coach is...

Omar Lowery.

His Cal Poly athletics bio:

Omar Lowery, Cal Poly’s recruiting coordinator, is in his fourth season as an assistant with the Mustang men’s basketball program. Lowery also plays an integral role in strengthening Cal Poly’s post play and rebounding efforts, in addition to scouting of opponents and game-day preparation.

“Omar is one of the most well-respected and connected recruiters in Texas, Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin,” Mustang head coach Joe Callero said. “His ability to identify quality student-athletes has opened new doors for the Cal Poly basketball program.”

A Wisconsin native, Lowery arrived on the central coast following three seasons at Texas State (2006-09) where he helped recruit seven total players ranked among the top-40 Texas high school prospects. As a result of his recruiting efforts, Texas State increased its win total each season with Lowery on the bench.

In addition to assisting Texas State achieve success on the court, Lowery was instrumental in the program’s success in the classroom, helping to mentor 2009 Capital One/Southland Conference all-academic selections John Rybak (Milwaukee) and Ryan White (Houston).

Prior to his tenure with Texas State, Lowery was a graduate assistant coach at Division II Eastern New Mexico University (2004-06). During his tenure at Eastern New Mexico, Lowery recruited and coached 2005 Lone Star Conference Freshman of the Year Josh Jackson (6-1, guard, Madison West HS, Madison, Wisc.) and 2006 All-Lone Star second team selection Justin Redman-Trotter (6-3, guard, Marquette-Milwaukee HS). As well as serving as a physical education faculty member at the university, Lowery’s duties with the Greyhound program included on-court coaching, recruiting and the scouting of opponents.

Lowery has also served as a varsity assistant coach at Hale HS (2001-02) in West Allis, Wisc., and at Milwaukee’s Marquette HS (2002-03).

As a collegiate player, Lowery competed for two seasons at South Plains College (Levelland, Texas) before transferring to Concordia University (Mequon, Wisc.) where he earned All-Lakeshore Conference first team praise. Concordia made its first postseason appearance with Lowery in the lineup, qualifying for the 2000 NCAA Division III Tournament.

Lowery, who taught kindergarten through eighth grade in the Milwaukee Public School System (2001-04), graduated from Concordia in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education. He completed his master’s degree in sports administration from Eastern New Mexico in 2006.

Lowery has a nine-year-old son, Miles.

Confirmation here.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Welcome to Chris Brazelton

Joining Coach Dave Wojcik's San Jose State University staff is Chris Brazelton, who was with Drake this past season. His bio from there:
"...He comes to Drake after spending the past five seasons as an assistant coach at the University of California Riverside.

Brazelton joined the UC Riverside staff under head coach Jim Wooldridge in 2007 after one year as a graduate assistant at the University of New Orleans under Buzz Williams.

"The thing that stands out to me about Chris is that he is a terrific person, first and foremost," said head coach Mark Phelps upon Brazelton's hire. "He is an extremely hard worker with great focus. He is a man of high character and he cares very much about serving student-athletes, with an emphasis on excellence. While Chris is known as an outstanding recruiter, he also excels on the court as a teacher and motivator. I am extremely excited that Chris is joining our staff as an assistant coach."

As recruiting coordinator at UC Riverside, Brazelton played a huge role in the recruitment of three players who would go on to earn all-league honors and assisted in coaching the team to the two best seasons in UC Riverside's Division I history. The 2008 class was ranked top 50 in the country by HoopScoopOnline.com, producing two-time first-team All-Big West performer Kyle Austin. Javon Borum earned second-team all-conference in 2010-11, and in 2011-12 Phil Martin led the Big West in scoring and earned a spot on the first team. With Austin's and Martin's all-conference performances, this marked the first time in UC Riverside's history to have placed a player on the All-Big West first team...

...A native of Highland, Calif., Brazelton is a graduate of Redlands East Valley High School. He earned his undergraduate degree in speech communication from Fresno State in May of 2006, working as head manager under Head Coach Steve Cleveland.

Brazelton began his collegiate career at UC Santa Cruz, averaging 6.5 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. He then transferred to Fresno State, where he made the team as a walk-on and redshirted in 2003-04. In 2004-05 he was named a Fresno State Scholar-Athlete.

An All-Citrus Belt performer in both basketball and track in high school, Brazelton also was a member of the National Honor Society and the California Scholastic Federation. He was rated as one of the top shooting guards in California by socalhoops.com. Brazelton played for the Inland Empire Basketball Program AAU team under the guidance of coaches Keith Howard and Julius Patterson, and appeared in the 2001 IEBP All-Star game in Riverside County.

Brazelton earned his master's degree in strategic communications in September of 2009 from National University, graduating with honors (3.53).
Look here for confirmation.

 Guess we can't hold his time as a Bulldog against him, can we?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Meet Jalen James

There are multiple reports circulating around the 'net of a prep point guard out of Indiana (and Illinois) visiting San Jose State University in another week or so.

La Lumiere's Jalen James is supposed to hit Silicon Valley for a visit on April 19-21 and other mid-majors also have him tripping this month.

What's interesting is the 6-foot-3 backcourter gave a verbal in 2011 to Illinois but that was before a coaching change took place and the decision was made to annul the engagement.

A number of high major schools were interested in him at one point but that was before there was a question of his qualifying. Now the interest being generated has dropped a notch.

Joe Henricksen's January 2012 article details Jones' departure from his Illinois high school to the one in the Hoosier state, seemingly for academic purposes.

Here's a January 2012 feature.

Here's an undated Future150 analysis of Jones.

Brandon Ramsey offers this evaluation: "I have been a big fan of James since I saw him first a couple of years ago. He has pretty good size for a ball handler and does a good job penetrating the defense. Jalen came up big down the stretch, sinking all 10 of his free throw attempts in the 4th quarter. He can stuff the stat sheet too, rebounds pretty well, is a very good passer, and uses his long arms to be disruptive defensively. Good mid-major point guard prospect."

In summary, Jones is a lanky, pass-first point who will get the ball to teammates in position for a good look. His shooting stroke at one point needed work but 10-10 from the foul line indicates he's solid from 15-feet. Further out is anyone's guess at this point.

One staff position filled

Don't know yet which position it is (seemingly it would have to be as an assistant coach and not the director of basketball operations) but new San Jose State University Coach Dave Wojcik has hired Jack Kennedy (gotta love that name).

According to his USF bio, Kennedy is an Arizona native who played hoops at Grinnell College, the scoreboard-breaking program in Iowa. No, he isn't the Jack who scored 138 points in a game (that was Jack Taylor).

He came west and worked as a graduate assistant to Coach Rex Walters for two years on the Hilltop while earning his master's in sports management.

Kennedy then became the director of basketball operations for the next pair of seasons before being elevated to an assistant coach position this past season.

In his senior year at Grinnell, he attempted 56 shots and 53 were of the three-point variety. Don't get into a shooting match with him as he made 45% of his trey attempts that season. Word has it that he's pretty handy on the golf links too.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Why the Dave Wojcik hire is so critical

In a San Jose State University men's basketball version of Ripley's Believe-It-Or-Not, one has to go back to Stu Inman and Walt McPherson to find basketball coaches with overall winning records.

Inman went 77-68 in six seasons from 1961-1966 as a head man for the Spartans and, just prior, Walt McPherson finished 264-208 in 17 seasons.

That's close to 50 years ago!

Is there any other D-I program in this country that has to reach back so far to find coaches with winning SJSU histories?

Amazingly pathetic.

No, men's basketball isn't going away, certainly not with a move into the much-lauded Mountain West Conference.

But really, how much longer should it survive unless prosperity is experienced?

It's a fair and valid good-money-after-bad question.

That's why the hire of Dave Wojcik is pivotal. 

It is going to continue to be tough sledding, at least initially. There's no reason to sugarcoat.

But this is a time to do it right in order to get it right.

Coach Wolcik is going to need every degree and dollar of support Spartan basketball fans and the SJSU administration can provide. Make this time the one where the resources are finally there for success. Do what you can. Demand what you can.

Let's break this past as prologue cycle.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

So which direction does Coach Wojcik go?

Not that it has to be one way or the other but does Coach Wojcik travel the prep route with his initial recruiting class, hit the junior college circuit or mix-and-match based on immediate versus long term need with his five available scholarships?

New coaches generally prefer the former road because the necessity is often present to lay a foundation from which springboard (absolutely true for San Jose State University basketball) plus the fact that time is available to absorb early losses.

But a critical factor in this particular equation is the remaining amount of unsigned high school talent that can not only be envisioned performing competitively in the Mountain West Conference but amenable to coming to SJSU.

Depending on the number of out-of-state scholarships at his disposal, this task could initially prove quite challenging, less so if he can also look beyond the borders of the Golden State.

JC recruits are usually signed to fill immediate holes and Spartan basketball sports a number of those.

Wojcik has to land a center who can be a positive for at least 25 minutes a game next season and that's a Herculean task unless he reaches out to the JC ranks.

He also needs to add a creator on offense, someone who can break down his opponent for a good look when an offensive set hasn't produced such.

Additionally, if Wojcik can locate and sweet talk the right talent, look for him to bring in a prep point, someone he can mold into his coach-on-the-floor and have available for four seasons.

Here's guessing that critical and immediate needs will be filled by JC talents and that the remaining 'ships go to high schoolers but Wojcik may even decide to not utilize all five rides if the 'right' players aren't available.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A suggestion for Coach Wojcik

Here's a suggestion to Coach Wojcik: since someone will be needed on the coaching staff who can not only get around San Jose but also knows the Bay Area and northern California territories as well as the high school, community college and club team coaches, how about retaining Tim Marrion as an assistant coach?

He's respected by the players, a good guy and nobody will outwork him. Please consider.

Jon Wilner's take on SJSU roundball

Jon Wilner offers his opinions on Spartan hoops after being in attendance at today's Coach Wojcik introductory press conference.

A few pushbacks:

Now maybe this is an anomaly but the facility St. Mary's uses for it's home games makes the Event Center look like the Taj Mahal. Plus, where's that gorgeous Gael practice court? That excuse is a red herring.

The basketball budget is now being upgraded as it definitely was in need of a boost.

Plus, new offices are on the way as Wilner duly noted.

AD Gene Bleymaier has promised these improvements -- why not interview him and post a Q-and-A on these subjects. Get something pinned down rather than whine ad nauseum. Be a journalist.

Yes, the roster is simply lacking in talent but why is this so? Any Wilner criticism of Coach Nessman will be his first. The same with Tom Bowen.

What Wilner has failed to acknowledge is the long litany of failed coaches hired by failed athletic directors who were more interested in providing jobs and salaries to buddies than achieving success. That's a sham and a shame and a diversion of taxpayer dollars.

Down in Ruston, second-year Coach Mike White and his Louisiana Tech team just finished a 27-7 season, 16-2 in conference play, with a roster full of underclassmen and junior college transfers. The Bulldogs were 18-16 the season before and made it to the title game of the Western Athletic Conference tournament. White didn't inherit a bountiful roster nor does he have a gem of a practice facility or a game facility that others envy.

It can be done.

No more excuses.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The announcement/press conference for Coach Wojcik

Dave Wojcik Meets The Spartan Nation
Courtesy: San Jose State Athletics

An emotionally-charged Dave Wojcik shared his philosophy as the new San Jose State University men’s basketball coach. With his wife, Heather, and 13-year-old son Jake, the 44-year-old Wojcik described his coaching journey that started in 1992 as an assistant coach at James Madison University working for Lefty Driesell to accepting a five-year contract to lead the Spartans.

“This is why I am here. It just dawned on me when I walked in seeing all you people. I felt this was a special place. I felt that in my heart with every job I’ve ever taken. It felt right. With all you here, it reaffirms it for me,” said Wojcik in his opening remarks.                                              

“I will do everything in my power to put this program on the map. I am so, so very excited. You have no idea. Gene (Bleymaier, San Jose State’s athletics director) is right. I have a lot of emotion. I have a lot of energy.

“It’s funny when we were going around the room in the interview. Everything came back – we need energy; we need excitement. I’m sitting there, chomping at the bit. ‘This is me here.”

Ray Silva, a former president of the Spartan Foundation who played basketball at San Jose State in early 1950’s said, “I’m really excited by his emotion; his passion for the game.  With his background, he is prepared for this job.  You can tell from listening to him, this is what he lives for.  Gene Bleymaier (San Jose State University Athletics Director) and Dr. (Mo) Qayoumi (San Jose State University President) made a great hire.”

Tim La Kose, San Jose State women’s head basketball coach, sees similarities in he and Coach Wojcik’s styles.

“We both want to do things the right way; to bring a lot of energy and surround ourselves with great people, people who work hard.  If you can do that it’s a recipe for success.  Everything I have seen and heard today has been very impressive.  He has a lot or passion and a lot of excitement for the job.  I excited to work with him.  It’s a good day to be a Spartan.”

School teacher Gayle Kludt, another past president of the Spartan Foundation, was happy to hear Coach Wojcik’s feelings about the complete student-athlete.

“I’m extremely pleased that his number-one priority is to recruit student-athletes who will perform in the classroom, as well as, on the court and that they will graduate.  I also liked that he said he was going install an aggressive style of play both ends of the court.  He is a very high energy individual and I am impressed with him.”

“The thing that struck me first was his passion,” guard D.J. Brown said. Brown has 43 starts in his first two seasons with the Spartans.  “He was emotional up there.  It was genuine and I like that from a coach.  As a player you want a relationship with someone like that.  I think we are going to have a great relationship and it’ll be a successful one, too.  My game fits his aggressive style.  The crowd enjoys seeing that style of play and I enjoy being an entertainer, so I think I will adapt to it easily.

Former San Jose State University Associated Students President Tony Robinson, a member of the search committee and past president of the Rebounders booster club, highlighted two things that impressed him most about Coach Wojcik.

“Coach is outstanding in a couple of departments.  First is the energy level he’s going to bring to the position.  That for me stood out among all the candidates.  Secondly, his experience at Boise State is simpatico with San Jose State.  He understands what the challenges are and is committed to being the best and bringing San Jose State basketball to a new level.”

Marty Selznick and Tom Colla, both long time supporters of San Jose State Athletics, are both excited to see what the future holds for Coach Wojcik and the Spartans basketball program.

“I’ve been watching Spartans basketball since 1962,” Colla said.  “Over the last few years there just hasn’t been a lot of enthusiasm or energy in our program.  From what I heard today, I think (Coach Wojcik) can bring that back.”

“In the press conference his passion certainly showed,” Selznick said.  “He talked about his past, what inspired him and how he is going to translate that to the court and in the classroom.  I couldn’t be more excited for him, his family and San Jose State.  We are all looking forward to next season.”

In six months, the start of official practice begins for Dave Wojcik’s first season as San Jose State University’s men’s basketball head coach.

More on Coach Wojcik

Here is a just-short-of-two-minutes video featuring Dave Wojcik.

Gotta start by laying a foundation

Let's not kid ourselves -- the program is back to needing a foundation first. Here's the details:

Below is the currently listed SJSU 2013-14 roster: 

* David Andoh, F, 6-foot-7, 200, sophomore
* D.J. Brown, G, 6-foot-2, 185, junior
* Chris Cunningham, F, 6-foot-9, 240, senior
Louis Garrett, F, 6-foot-6, 215, senior

* Nick Grieves, G, 6-foot-3, 160, junior (walk-on)      
* Stephon Smith, F, 6-foot-8, 260, junior      
* Mike VanKirk, C, 7-foot-1, 240, sophomore
* Jaleel Williams, F, 6-foot-6, 215, junior

The numbers make it appear that up to six scholarships will be available to Coach Dave Wojcik but nothing is official in that category.

Each position is in dire need of a talent upgrade as possibly just one player -- Chris Cunningham -- has the level of ability needed to have the chance of winning that position in a Mountain West Conference matchup and that may not be on a nightly basis.

The backcourt is virtually barren.

A starting center is absent.

Rhetorically, how is SJSU going to win at any of the five positions during a game and thus have a chance to nab a victory?

But first, let's continue and make some comparisons.


Now, here is former SJSU Coach George Nessman's very first SJSU roster, by position:

* Menelik Barbary, 6-foot-9, 230, junior
* Matt Misko, 6-foot-11, 225, senior

* Demetrius Brown, 6-foot-6, 230, senior   
* Kevin Fleming, 6-foot-6, 215, junior
* Lance Holloway, 6-foot-7, 195, sophomore
* DeVonte Thomas, 6-foot-4, 195, freshman
* Kenny Smith, 6-foot-4, 215, senior
* Jared Cozad, 6-foot-3, 195, junior (walk-on)    
* Alex Elam 6-foot-4, 215, senior
* Nelson Garbutt, 6-foot-2, 175, junior (walk-on)
* Tyree Gardner, 6-foot-0, 175, senior
* Nick Novacevich, 6-foot-5, 195, freshman (walk-on)
* Julian Richardson, 6-foot-1, 160, guard   
* Justonn Smith, 6-foot-2, 189, freshman    
* Carlton Spencer. 6-foot-2, 180, junior

But the above is his full roster at season's beginning, not what he initially inherited. Take away the signees of his initial recruiting season and what he found upon accepting the job in 2005-06 was:

* Menelik Barbary, 6-foot-9, 230, junior
* Matt Misko, 6-foot-11, 225, senior

* Demetrius Brown, 6-foot-6, 230, senior   
* Lance Holloway, 6-foot-7, 195, sophomore
* Kenny Smith, 6-foot-4, 215, senior
* Alex Elam 6-foot-4, 215, senior
* Nelson Garbutt, 6-foot-2, 175, junior (walk-on)
* Tyree Gardner, 6-foot-0, 175, senior
* Julian Richardson, 6-foot-1, 160, junior   


So which group would you want to command as a coach, what Wojcik or what essman was bequeathed?

Strictly on this basis of talent, Wojcik's inheritance is lesser.

What Coach Nessman found -- a pair of serviceable centers, an inconsistent forward (Brown) but one who could win his position on a given night and a solid, if unspectacular backcourter (Elam) -- could be considered an initial 'get-by' talent pool.

Coach Wojcik is facing the task of constructing a foundation first.

First recruiting offer from Coach Wojcik

Westwind Preps tweeted: "San Jose State offers Westwind Prep's National 2014 wing Zylan Cheatham last week. In the 20's now for Zylan and offers. Incredible growth!"

Cheatham is a 6-foot-7 forward in the 2014 class whose offers include many Pac-12 schools.

Garrett Tucker offers a February 8, 2013 feature on Cheatham.

Below is video of Cheatham in action on November 3:

WP is a school in Phoenix which operates underclass and post-grad basketball teams and plays against a topnotch schedule of other similar teams and junior colleges..

Here is Zylan's Twitter account.

What this indicates is Coach Dave Wojcik is refusing to surrender to the thinking that this kid or that kid is too 'big' for San Jose State University basketball.