Cerritos College men’s basketball players and coaching staff eyes toward the future

Jah-Tosh Baruti

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Now that the 2017-18 men’s basketball season has brought to an end, sophomore players share what’s next for them on their basketball journey, freshman players got a taste of what it’s like to win in the playoffs—as they gear up for another season, the coaching staff also described what’s next for the team.

As the sophomores of the team end their careers as Falcons, they look forward to the journey that awaits them.

After the last game of the season, sophomore G. Riley Hamilton, who donned No. 4 in his last year as a Falcon, said that he did not have any offers, but as word spread like wildfire of his outstanding California Community Colleges Athletic Association State Tournament play he quickly attained offers to play ball at four division 2 programs.

“[It’s a] blessing,” said Hamilton.

University of West Georgia, Cal State East Bay, Cal State Dominguez Hills and Tartleton State are all interested in the 6-foot-6 backcourt player.

Hamilton struggled in his first two postseason appearances of 2018, going a combined 2-13 from the field and 1-7 on three-point FG, while having a scoreless game game in the second, after hitting the ice cold game winner, three-pointer, in the first, with 1.8 on the clock in triple OT.

Those struggles also came just shortly after scoring performances of 22 and 17 points in a couple late regular-season games (read: wins).

However, in his last two playoff games he scored in double figures, while shooting 63 percent FG and connecting on 4-5 triples.

In the team’s Final Four appearance Hamilton notched a team-high 16 points on 7-11 shooting and went a perfect 2-2 from three-point land.

A CCCAA South Coast Conference-South Division All-Conference Honorable Mention selection, Hamilton averaged eight points, three rebounds and a steal per game over 33 games as a starter—on solid percentages of 46 percent FG, 39 percent on 3-point shots and 83 percent from the free throw line.

As for the athletic Keshaun Mack, sophomore No. 14, with pogo sticks for legs, he said he’s still trying to figure out his next step.

Mack had a season which saw him average 13 points, four rebounds 2.4 assists and a steal a game—with percentages of 47 percent from the floor, 36.5 percent on threes and 61.5 percent on foul shots.

Rewarded for his regular-season play, Mack was a SCC First Team All-Conference selection.

The 6-foot-6 slashing guard has plans of playing point guard at the next level.

So where’s he headed? Mack said, “I don’t know yet, it’s still early.”

Mack currently has an offer from Kentucky State and he has garnered the attention of West Georgia, Western Washington, Tarleton State and San Francisco State.

The 6-foot-7 rebounding machine Jonathan Guzman (No. 21), the only outgoing sophomore eligible for a Division 1 school, says that’s exactly where he wants to go.

For the 2017-18 season, Guzman averaged nine points and six rebounds in 32 games (11 starts), while dishing out 1.8 assists and shooting 73 percent on freebies from the FT line.

He was also named SCC First Team All-Conference, after racking up several double-doubles, including a career-high 18 rebound night and scoring double figures in 16 games.

Although currently without an offer from a division one basketball program, Guzman said he remains patient.

Standout 6’8” swingman and MVP of the SCC-South Division, No. 1 Demetrius Thomas said he has some schools that are looking at him, including a couple Division two ball clubs.

Thomas hinted at where he may call home next, he said, “I was thinking about Western Washington though, because they really like me and I like them too and the coach came to watch me play against Yuba College.”

One of only five players named to the CCCAA All-State Championship Tournament Team, Thomas more than likely will be highly coveted by top four-year universities in the nation.

Leading the Falcons in PPG for the regular season at 17 a night, to go along with 8.6 rebounds on high shooting percentages of 57 percent from two, as he shot the three ball at a 40 percent clip.

Freshman center Austin Freeman (No. 32) looked toward the future at his upcoming sophomore season, he said, “[We’re going to] come back next year and try to get it again.

“We got a stacked team next year too, we got good talent coming back, so next year we’ll probably be back [and] go for it.”

The 6’11 big man appeared in 17 games in his first year and had averages of two points and one rebound (9.6 per 40 minutes) a game on a respectable 56 percent FG.

SCC Coach of the Year Russ May lead the team to a its first Final Four berth, since the Falcons won it all in 1999, as the 2017-18 squad ended with a 27-6 record overall (9-1 conference).

He described the 2017-18 team as “special.”

“I just love these guys. I want to see them be successful off the court as well as on it and we’re going to do our best to help them move forward,” May said full of emotion in the locker room after the season ending loss to eventual state champions City College of San Francisco (32-1).

May detailed the team’s next moves after the Final Four loss, “Well we’re going to go lick our wounds, it’s spring break and I hope our guys can just look back and be proud of what they accomplished and it’s off to try and get them recruited and find a new generation of Falcons to play with our freshmen here.”

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