By Dan Lovi and Diego Marquez
Signal Staff Writers
With the 2018-19 boys basketball season underway, we take a look at 10 players from the Santa Clarita Valley to keep an eye on throughout the year.
Hart – Julian Verrier (Sr.)
Julian Verrier heads up Hart’s front-court with his big, physical presence inside the paint. When Verrier gets positioned down low, he utilizes his big frame and quick feet to expose opposing defenders weaknesses. Adding to his array of skills, Verrier can also pop out and sink the occasional 3-pointer if given too much space.
Saugus – Nathan Perez (Fr.)
Freshman sensation Nathan Perez joins adds exquisite perimeter shooting for Saugus. Perez can hit shots coming off screens as well as knock down stand still shots and will be key for Saugus’ success moving forward.
“This guy can be really good. This guy is in the gym every morning before class,” said Saugus head coach Alfredo Manzano. “He’s constantly getting work after practice. He is an absolute gym rat and if he continues on that same path in putting in the work it’ll all pay off in the end.”
Saugus – Adrian McIntyre (Jr.)
Adrian McIntyre is an all-around player who can score with ease and has deceptive speed for a player his size. He’s already scored 39 points in a game this season and can light it up at any moment. McIntyre is the unquestioned leader for the Centurions and if Saugus is to contend for a league title this year, McIntyre will have to carry the load.
SCCS – Noah Veluzat (So.)
Entering his sophomore season, SCCS point guard Noah Veluzat already has a CIF-Southern Section regional and state championship under his belt serving as one the most dynamic scorers on the year. The 6-foot-2 guard has a knack for scoring by taking defenders off the dribble or spotting up and knocking down the long-range jumper.
Trinity – Zack Totten (Sr.)
For Trinity Classical Academy, Zack Totten is a key component to any success the team is looking to build. Totten can do it all, whether it’s shoot, rebound, defend or find his teammates for an open look. His numbers don’t always jump out from the box score, but he definitely does the dirty work for the Knights.
“He’s the leader of our team, he’s the rim-procter he does the little things, he dives after loose balls and we wouldn’t go anywhere without him,” said Trinity head coach Aaron Southwick.
Valencia – Richard Kawakami (Sr.)
Serving as Valencia’s point-forward, Richard Kawakami can do everything for the Vikings. He can post defenders up, can knock down 15-footers and is known to be able to sink the occasional 3-pointer. Establishing himself as one of the most physical players in the Foothill League, Kawakami’s physicality and imposing will is what makes him so dangerous for Valencia.
“What doesn’t he do? He could post you, he can beat you off the dribble. He’s making plays on both ends of the floor it’s hard to get him off, he’s doing so many good things for you can’t take him out,” said Valencia head coach Bill Bedgood.
West Ranch – Alex Grant (Sr.)
According to West Ranch head coach Ron Manalastas, senior Alex Grant is the leader of an up-and-coming Wildcats team. Grant isn’t the biggest player on the court, but has enough strength to battle down low in the paint. He’ll look to carry West Ranch to a league crown.
“He’s great, he’s good for the team, he is one of our biggest hustle guys, he’s one of our most diverse players and I love playing with him,” said Grant’s teammate Deaken Stangl.
Golden Valley – Kenan Quila and Joshua Martin (Srs.)
Kenan Quila has already shown that he can take the “big shot,” hitting a game winner in Golden Valley’s first game of the season. Teaming up with backcourt mate Joshua Martin, the senior duo will be heavily relied upon this season for the Grizzlies.
“We challenged them to be the best backcourt in the league, and I told them you got to get out there everyday and show it. Nobody is going to believe it but the guys in here,” said Golden Valley head coach Larry Keys. “We’re going to lean on them for leadership, to make plays, for focus and the guys believe in them so we’re going to hop on their shoulders most games.”
Canyon – Willie Yomba (Sr.)
A senior leader on Canyon’s team, Willie Yomba is the younger brother of Yvan Yomba who graduated from Canyon in 2017. Standing at six feet two inches, Yomba can battle in the paint as well as hit the outside shot. He’s got good handles for a player his size and can just as easily bring the ball down the court as post up against an opposing defender.