City College of San Francisco, the defending state champions, will begin the season as the California Community Colleges Men's Basketball Coaches Association’s preseason No. 1 ranked team.
The Rams had nine sophomores transition out, including Northern California Player of the Year Terrell Brown and Eddie Stansberry, an all-state selection. Head coach Justin Labagh has reloaded for the 2018-19 season, and the Rams are expected to battle again for a return trip to the state tournament. The Rams, who take a 29-game win streak into the 2018-19 season, finished 33-1 last season, losing to Sequoias on November 17. Under Labagh, the Rams are 424-58 in 15 seasons, with state championships in 2011, 2016 and 2018.
The Rams open defense of its state title on November 2 against Alameda in its City College of San Francisco Tip-off. San Francisco will roll out another squad deep in talent, but measuring up to last year’s team may prove difficult with so many young players.
There also appears to be a number of teams capable of unseating San Francisco this season.
East Los Angeles (24-6 last year) has emerged and will begin the season No. 2 in the state and No. 1 in Southern California. The Huskies, the defending South Coast-North Division champions, begin the season ranked No. 2 in the state. East LA appears deep and extremely talented group, led by returner Solomon Hunt, a second-team all-conference selection.
Fresno City comes in at No. 3 to begin the season. Reportedly, this year’s Rams team may not reflect the teams of Ed Madec’s previous. Fresno City is reportedly bigger than previous years and more reflective of his Siskiyous’ teams. Last year, the Rams lost to San Diego City in the state tournament semifinals, finishing 28-5.
Fullerton, the Orange Empire Conference runner-up last year, has added Irvine Valley transfer Lance Coleman, who last played in 2016-17. That season he averaged 18.2 points a game in 29 contests. The Hornets also return Ronne Readus, a second-team all-conference pick, also returns after averaging 9.5 point per game and 7 rebounds.
Citrus, who some coaches are saying will have the best perimeter-shooting team in the state, lands at No. 5 in the preseason poll. The Owls, 27-5 last season and champs of the Western State-East Division, figure to rely on its strong guard play to erase last year’s disappointment of losing to Orange Coast to make the state tournament.
Santa Rosa, Saddleback, Gavilan, Mt. San Jacinto and Sequoias round out the Top 10. The 2018-19 season kicks off on November 1 and concludes in Ventura in March with the Final Eight Tournament.
CCCMBCA Preseason Poll
1. City College of San Francisco — 10-deep, but may struggle to reach last year’s success
2. East Los Angeles — Extremely deep and talented team that will contend
3. Fresno City — Bigger than previous years, more reflective of Madec’s Siskiyous years
4. Fullerton — Experienced and well coached team, transfer Lance Coleman making a big impact
5. Citrus — Excellent guard play, possibly the best perimeter-shooting team in the state
6. Santa Rosa — Better than last year (25-5 and lost in the state quarterfinals), do the math
7. Saddleback — Good size and length will cause problems, solid defensively as usual. Big strong physical team poised to revenge a rare down season despite not being playoff eligible. JJ Overton is an all-state candidate
8. Gavilan — Look for a repeat of last year’s success (24-5 and a deep playoff run)
9. Mt. San Jacinto — Possesses one of the best players in the state in 7-foot Luka Filipovic and is surrounded by quick athletic guards
10. Sequoias — Will measure up to its Giants stature, but will a lack of true point guard hurt their chances
11. Chabot — Keenan McMiller moves from Merritt to Chabot and brings a lot of athletes with him
12. Santa Monica — Whole new roster with a lot of talent. Should make the biggest turnaround from last season to this season. Look for lots of freshman making an impacts
13. San Diego City — Lots of new bodies, but still talented and deep that possesses that winning culture from previous seasons. Joe Riley will need to lead the Knights early as the freshmen find their game
14. Las Positas — Expect strong guard play with a balanced offensive attack and solid defense. Figures to compete with anybody in the North thanks to freshman Michael Hayes, transfer Nana Appiah and returning all-conference point guard John Ketchel.
15. Southwestern — Jose Serrano has a great supporting cast and Southwestern possesses size and depth to possibly make a deep postseason run
16. Cerritos — Returns three players from last season with redshirt Dezmon Murphy providing added experience to a team with several impact freshman like Chancellor Hunter. Team should trend upward as the season progresses
17. San Bernardino — Guard oriented this year, but 7-foot Roman Silva and 6-9 Davonte Carrier could be difference makers allowing the Wolverines to make a run for the state title
18. Foothill — Physical tough team that will shoot the ball well
19. Diablo Valley — Young with a lot of potential . . . early improvement will the key for the Vikings
20. Antelope Valley — Another very solid team with impact freshmen Tyriq Perry. Possess the length to be an excellent defensive team