School Team Preview:
SoCalHoops High School News
Hopefully the previews will stay short and to the point, and we can leave out all of the biographical data about the coaches. . . At least that's what we're going to do if we can help it. And about the Long Beach Millikan Rams (notice that the nickname of the school appears derived from an acronym. . . .the name of the school is Robert A. Millikan?) the most we're going to say about coach Kelly San Jose is that this is his second year in charge. Period. That's it. Oh, and Jeff Bruklander is the assistant coach, and he's also in his second year.
Last season, the Rams finished 10-16 overall, 5-7 in leage, and clinched a playoff spot for the first time in seven years. They didn't fare too well in the playoffs, losing in the first round to Upland, 72-57, but at least they made it there. And Coach San Jose believes the team will be vastly improved and they are ready to make some noise in a Moore League which should have more parity than it has in recent memory. Here's the roster, and some notes compiled and sent to us by the coaching staff:
As noted, the Rams made it back to the playoffs last year after a long hiatus in the cellar of the tough Moore League. Some of the bright spots last year had more to do with things like the competitive spirit of many of the younger players rather than their success in terms of wins and losses against teams like Clovis West, Poly, Jordan, and Upland. And it's that experience from last year which has helped the team grow and mature on the court into a group that will contend this year for a league title and a greater measure of respect in the playoffs.
Keith Moore is, according to coach San Jose, "the most under rated PG in our area." He averaged 12 ppg and 8 reb and 3 steals as a junior. He is an All-League cross country and track performer "who is only rivaled in athleticism by Polys' Reggie Butler," according to the Rams' coach. Rodney Spencer is another big-bodied guard whose solid defense and court sense give the Rams one of the stronger backcourts in the league.
While the team is still considered a very young one again this year, with only two seniors, some of the juniors and sophs have been making names for themselves on the travel and exposure circuit. Returning starters Dominic Freeman and Marcus Dove are both potential college prospects, and if their development continues they could be potential D-I players some day. Freeman is an aggressive and athletic power forward who is steadily improving his outside game. Having to guard guys like Travon Bryant, Charlie Rodriguez, and Joe Travis has helped to season Freeman, while Dove has stepped up his offensive game after his freshman season and should be one of the top performers in the league this year. He has great court vision and is a tenacious competitor. He is also one of the best shot blocking gaurds around, who could play all five spots for the Rams. Biggest areas of improvement this year for the Rams will be depth and shooting. Iren Anderson is one of the better sophomore PGs in SoCal; he is a very solid playmaker who can shoot the three. Matt Raitz, Melvin Nicholson, and Vincent Cofield add size and scoring to the lineup. Shooting help will come with juniors Kenny Gravely and Michael Brown and sophomore Mark Lewis who is a genuine offensive threat. Seniors Sommers and Almazon add experience and competitiveness to the Ram lineup.
The Rams will participate in the Los Alamitos, Troy, and St. Anthony Tournaments, with non-league games against Bolsa Grande and Downey. Preseason contests should prove invaluable for this young team. With solid returners like Moore, Spencer, Freeman, and Dove the balance of the team and their improvement could dictate their success for the rest of the season if they can pick up some early wins. The Moore league race should be the toughest in years with a vastly improved Lakewood squad, and Cabrillo and Wilson are also both improved as well, while Compton remains pretty much a mystery, but somehow always manages to be competitive. Of course the league favorite are perennial powerhouses Poly and Jordan, but this year Millikan should at least hit the radar screen in the league race. The Rams had a solid summer, winning the San Diego State team camp tourney, playing tough against Compton Dominguez (without Keith Moore), and they also managed one of those "summer wins" against a very good Notre Dame team. With added depth and improved shooting, the Rams will only continue to get better.
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