As a local high school basketball coach, I read with interest the recent article that focused on the number of local high school players who opt to attend college out of the area to continue their basketball careers (“SLO County’s game drain,” April 25).
To people outside of the basketball community, it may seem strange that so many local players would choose to take their considerable talents to places other than Cuesta College. This phenomenon, however, is not unique to Cuesta College. All one has to do is look at the rosters at other junior college programs.
For example, an examination of the rosters of the teams in the Western State Conference shows that Cuesta College is not the only junior college that experiences an exodus of local talent.
A close look at Pierce, Moorpark and Oxnard junior colleges will find not one local player on their rosters. Hancock has four, Santa Barbara has four (including two from Carpinteria high schools) and Ventura has three. In fact, Ventura has five players from Oxnard area high schools, who should be attending the Oxnard junior college.
Why do players opt to go away to play college basketball? Eighteen-year-old kids want to experience life outside of their immediate community. It’s as simple as that. We local high school coaches can help by directing our student-athletes to see the great opportunities that await them if they choose to play at our own local junior college.
With the exception of those athletes whose skills and academic performance equip them to play immediately at the four-year level, our local kids should take a serious look at the advantages that can be taken by playing at Cuesta College.
Rusty Blair and women’s coach Ed Musolff are quality coaches who can help those players who want to play at the four-year level achieve that goal. I am hoping that local players who read the article can appreciate the quality level of basketball that awaits them if they choose to play at Cuesta College.
Cary Nerelli is the girls basketball coach at Morro Bay High School. His high school has sent 19 players to Cuesta College since 1987.