It’s time for some round-ball action.
Don’t get me wrong, football is great – especially with the year we’ve had in Northern Santa Barbara County, but the end of November means we get to see slam dunks, swatted shots and long-range 3-pointers.
It’s basketball time – and there’s plenty of talent coming to a gym near you. Here’s my list of 12 players on both the girls and boys side to watch this winter:
Erin Jenkins, Cabrillo: The reigning All-Area Most Valuable Player has made it clear this season at Vandenberg Village: It’s CIF title and state appearance or bust for the unbeaten Los Padres League champions from last season. Jenkins leads the fast-paced up-tempo charge for the Conquistadores.
Brittney McCune, Cabrillo: McCune adds the inside element for CHS with her points in the paint. Like her aforementioned cousin, McCune also wants nothing more than a CIF title and state bid in her final prep campaign.
Danielle Morgan, Lompoc: The daughter of head coach Claudia Terrones is a do-everything type on the floor – from shooting the long ball, to grabbing the rebounds to slapping away scoring opportunities. Morgan is one of the more versatile players in the region.
Isabella Robles, Lompoc: With the departure of the Garrett twins Cyenna and Chavon, plus with her 6-foot-1 height, I’m anticipating that Robles will handle the inside duties for the Braves this winter.
Abbey Gutierrez, Nipomo: As a sophomore last season, Gutierrez averaged 8.5 points per game according to Max Preps. As one of the more experienced players back inside the NHS gym, that number could soar.
Lita Wright, Santa Ynez: The returning junior led the Pirates with 11.4 points per game last season and guided SYHS to a playoff appearance.
Mariah Lopez, Orcutt Academy: She averaged more than seven points per game as a freshman on varsity for the Spartans.
Zane Scheckherd, Righetti: She’s become a sharp shooter under head coach Desiree Hitch – and the returning senior has also drawn interest from some NCAA Division II programs for her basketball skills.
Ashley Reynoso, Righetti: The senior is known for collecting basketballs for the defending PAC-8 champs – as she led the team with 9.1 rebounds per game last year.
Alijah Paquet, Righetti: The returning junior was the Warriors’ third leading scorer last year at 9.9 points per game.
Jenna Patel, St. Joseph: The 2018 prospect improved her points per game (10.3) and rebounds (6.0) last season under head coach Ed Torres.
Samantha Brackett, St. Joseph: If Patel gets swallowed by the double team, Brackett is usually the one who picks up the scoring slack.
LeAndrew Knight, Cabrillo: Last year’s All-Area MVP is a threat to drop 20 points or more on any opponent. Concordia University of Portland visited him on Monday, says his head coach C.J. Simmons.
Ryan Morgan, Lompoc: He showed his aggressiveness with attacking the paint as a freshman on varsity. Look for him to get plenty of touches under the new regime that’s spearheaded by first-year head coach Paul Terrones.
Jordan Tyler, Lompoc: Once the Cabrillo transfer becomes clear to play in January, expect him to add size and inside scoring down low.
Joey Nevarez, Santa Maria: The 2018 returnee became a cornerstone among a resurgent Saints program, with his average of 17.1 points per game as proof.
Blake Truhitte, Santa Maria: We’ll see if the dynamic Saints quarterback gives basketball a go with the year he’s had on the gridiron. But if Truhitte plays, he’s another active scorer for head coach Dave Yamate.
Marc Pyle, Orcutt Academy: The 6-foot-5 Pyle brings the points and rebounds for the Spartans.
Elihu Cobb, St. Joseph: The 6-foot-6 Cobb is one of the more athletic players on the floor for the Knights, especially on the defensive end.
Jalen Davis, Righetti: Forget size, Davis can touch the rim with his athleticism – even at 5-foot-6.
Jaden Jones, Pioneer Valley: Got his feet wet as a freshman on varsity last season. Continued growth will make him hard to guard down the road.
Isak Deming, Valley Christian Academy: The returning senior point guard knows how to lead the offense and score.
Kiernan Quinonez, Valley Christian Academy: He gave the Lions another scoring option with his 11.5 PPG during VCA’s playoff run.
Note: As much as I would love to highlight everyone, I wanted to keep my list narrow. But you can email firstname.lastname@example.org if there’s an athlete you believe is worth highlighting in the future.