Community college basketball in California has been the proving ground for a number of successful coaches and players. The CCCMBCA Hall of Fame was founded to honor the coache and players who made an impact at the California community college level.
The 2017 Class of Inductees:
Steve Coccimiglio, Diablo Valley College — Coach
This season, Coccimiglio became the third men's coach in state history to hit the 600-win plateau with a win over American River in the Shasta Tournament on November 19. Now, in his 27th year at DVC, Coccimiglio has won or shared 12 conference championships. His teams have made seven Elite Eights and one Final Four (1996-97). He has also had 19, 20-win seasons during his tenure at Diablo Valley. A former, CCCMBCA President, Coccimiglio has been active in the association for many years, several included coordinating and spearheading this CCCMBCA Hall of Fame yearly event.
Brooklyn-born Hirsch was a standout prep player at Van Nuys High School. In 1959, he was named Los Angeles City Co-Player of the Year. Hirsch attended Los Angeles Valley for two years from 1959 to 1961, where he was a two-time All-Metropolitan Conference player, setting a school record with his 23.6 scoring average. In 2010, he was Inducted in Los Angeles Valley College’s Hall of Fame. He co-captained (with Walt Hazzard) UCLA's first NCAA Championship team in 1964. That season, the UCLA senior led the Bruins in field goal percentage (.528), and was third in team scoring, rebounding, and free throw percentage. He averaged 13 points in the Bruins’ four NCAA playoff games, scoring 13 points against Duke in the title match-up. The 1964 Bruins were undefeated (30-0), and Hirsch was named first team All-Pac-8, as well as All-America honorable mention. A year earlier, his first at UCLA, Hirsch started 27 of 29 games for the Bruins, was selected All-AAWU second team, and won the University's Irv Pohlmeyer Memorial Award as the team's outstanding rookie. Hirsch turned to coaching after his competitive days at UCLA. He coached for with former Bruin teammate, Walt Hazzard—first at Compton College, then Chapman College, and finally at UCLA.
Justin Love, Canada College — Player
A San Francisco native, Love’s stellar career began at Sacred Heart Cathedral before arriving at Cañada College. With two seasons under Cañada Hall of Fame Coach Mike Legarza, he was named the 1998 Most Valuable Player of the Coast Conference and California Player of the Year, all while making a trip to the Final Four. Love went onto to St. Louis University where he is statistically among the top 10 in both season and career averages. He led the team to the 2000 Conference-USA Championship. He was selected to the Conference-USA All-Conference First-Team, Conference-USA All-Tournament Team, and named the Conference-USA’s Tournament Most Valuable Player. Following his collegiate career, Love was drafted in the 2000 NBA Draft, signing with the Phoenix Suns. Overall, his professional career spans 14 season, playing across the world. Today, Love, who holds his BA in Communications Disorders and a master’s degree in Education, resides in Illinois and works as a teacher at Belleville West High School.
Lester Strong, Moorpark College — Player
An all-state player in 2001 for Moorpark College, the 6-foot-7 center, overcame a lot of adversity to realize his basketball career. One of seven children, Strong grew up in the inner-city housing in Denver. In high school he led the state of Colorado in blocked shots for two seasons. In his senior season, he averaged 24 points and 18 rebounds. He played one season at Moorpark before returning to Denver to play at the University of Denver. In his first game at Moorpark, Strong had 16 points and 12 rebounds. In six of Moorpark's first 11 games, Strong had double figures in points and rebounds. In his final season at the Denver University, Strong averaged 12.8 points and 7.7 rebounds.
Tom Tolbert, Cerritos College — Player
Although he played just one season at the community college level, Tom Tolbert made an immediate impact at Cerritos College during the 1985-86 season. That year, Tolbert led the Falcons to a 29-3 record and averaged 16.2 points and 7.8 rebounds a game and a #1-seed for the Southern California Regional Playoffs. Tolbert was also named the state's Co-Player of the Year, as well as the South Coast Conference Player of the Year. He parlayed that season into a scholarship to play for Lute Olson and the University of Arizona. While with the Wildcats, Tolbert led the team in field goal percentage (51.1) his junior year, as they team went 18-12 and lost, 98-91 to UTEP in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament. As a senior, Tolbert started all 38 games and averaged 14.1 points a game, while shooting 54.7% from the field and leading them with an 81.2 free throw percentage. Arizona went 35-3 on the year and reached the Final Four, where they fell, 86-78 to the University of Oklahoma. Tolbert was named NCAA All-West Regional, as well as to the PAC-10 All-Tournament Team that season. Upon completion of his Wildcat career, he was invited to the 1988 US Olympic Trials. In 1988, Tolbert was a 2nd Round NBA (34th overall) pick by the Charlotte Hornets and went on to play for the Golden State Warriors (1989-92), Orlando Magic (1992-93), Los Angeles Clippers (1993-94), along with his two stints in Charlotte (1988 & 1994-95). Tolbert also spent one season playing for Canarias (1988-89) of the Spanish League. Upon his retirement from the NBA, Tolbert was hired by San Francisco-based sports radio station KNBR and served as the co-host of The Razor and Mr. T show in 1996. After the show was changed to The Mr. T Show in 2012, it became the Mr. T. and Ratto show in 2004. Currently the color commentator for the Warriors since 2012, Tolbert has also worked in front of the camera and was a color commentator for NBA games on NBC and was nominated for an Emmy in 2002. From 2002-07, Tolbert worked for ESPN and called the NBA Finals for ABC.
Royce Youree, West Hills College — Player
Every legend has to start somewhere. For Youree it all began at West Hills College in Coalinga, CA. As a freshman, Youree dominated, earning all-conference, all-state and eventually All-American honors. To this day, he still holds West Hills single-season scoring record with 58 points (vs. Cuesta). After a year at West Hills, he took his game to Arizona State University where he became a three-year starter, finishing his career as the school's career scoring leader (1,036 points) and the first player in school history to surpass 1,000 points. In 2009, he was inducted into the Pac-10 Hall of Honor. In 1995, he was welcomed into the ASU Sports Hall of Fame in 1995, the 11th Sun Devil to earn the honor. After college he played three years of minor league baseball, and then went into basketball coaching eventually becoming the head coach of Phoenix East High School in 1964, where he compiled a 5A record of 301-56 and won five state championships over 13 years. The Arizona Republic later named Youree its "Coach of the Century." In 1982, became the co-coach at Mesa Community College, and he went 126-37 in five years there, including taking his team to a No. 3 national ranking in 1987. From 1988-1995, Youree coached in the Basketball Congress International, and later spent two years as an assistant coach at the University of San Diego and seven years as a regional scout for the NBA's Atlanta Hawks. Youree earned a BA and a MA in Education from ASU.
Being inducted posthumously
Larry Friend, Los Angeles City — Player
Friend was a basketball All-America in 1954 at Los Angeles City College and All-America at the University of California-Berkeley in 1957. He led the Golden Bears to the NCAA finals in his senior year, losing to Bill Russell's University of San Francisco team. At Berkeley, Larry set a single season scoring record--1,061 points/14.9 average. The 10th player picked in the 1957 NBA draft, Friend was the first pick of the New York Knickerbockers. But he played only one year with the Knicks before a serious knee injury ended his NBA career. (He played one more season, 1961-62, in the American Basketball League for Bill Sharman's L.A. Jet's, and lead the League in three-point shots.) Friend became one of the owners of the Phoenix Suns NBA franchise in 1968, and was actively involved with the team through 1983. In 1982, he was named to the "Silver Anniversary Team" by the NCAA. Chicago born, Friend came to Los Angeles as a teenager, and starred for Fairfax High School.
Sherman was one of the premier basketball players in Southern California during the 1950s. The one-time Roosevelt High School star received All-Metropolitan League, All-Southern California Junior College recognition while playing at East Los Angeles College. In addition, he was the third leading scorer in Southern California, and holds the career scoring record at East Los Angeles. He was selected to the East Los Angeles College All-Time Great Team. During his playing days at Los Angeles State College, Sherman was twice all-conference, and selected to the CCAA All-Tournament Team. Nicknamed “Greased Lightning”, Sherman scored 1,700 points during his collegiate career. He was a superb playmaker-passer, great defensive player, and finished sixth in the NCAA with an 83.4% free-throw (made) average. In 1955, he was selected Outstanding Athlete of the Year at Cal State Los Angeles, and received All-America honors. In 1956, Sherman was chosen the outstanding player at the Southern California Six-foot and Under Championship event. A year later, he was the first West Coast athlete ever selected to play on a U.S. Maccabiah Basketball team, co-captaining the American hoopsters to a gold medal at the World Games in Israel. Sherman established a World Maccabiah Games record by connecting on 14 consecutive free throws. The Los Angeles City Recreation and Parks Department and Jr. Chamber of Commerce retired the City Basketball Championship Perpetual Trophy in the name of Eli Sherman, citing him as “the greatest youth basketball coach in Los Angeles history.” His teams won four City championships during the five years he coached. In 1976, the L.A. Academy of TV Arts and Sciences recognized him for his performance and significant contribution to the Emmy Award winning NBC documentary: “Is Winning the Name of the Game?” He was the Founder and Director of the Southern California Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, and the Founder-Director of the Golden State Boys Basketball Organization, which was the pioneer and role model for youth basketball since the 1960s.