Nov 06, 2015
Buckle up, Diablo Valley College women's basketball fans
Vikings coach Ramaundo Vaughn, the Big 8 Conference Coach of the Year in 2014-15, uses a short but telling sentence to describe what to expect this season: "It will be fun and fast."
Up-tempo DVC will open the season on Friday at the Mission College tournament.
Indeed, Vaughn's program will continue to be a mover and a shaker after achieving a 26-6 record last season, led by first-team Northern California All-State selection Sabrea Coleman and second-team all-NorCal pick Kayla Taylor. The Vikings fell just short of making it to the State Final Four, losing to eventual state champion Chabot 69-66 in the fourth round of the Northern California Regional.
This season, DVC has an array of talented newcomers and a great team spirit. They are ranked No. 1 in the CCCWBCA North Region Preseason Poll with 85 points, one point ahead of Big 8 Conference rival San Joaquin Delta.
The Vikings lost eight full scholarship players from last season -- and the only returners are super-clutch shooter Raeona Ford and very hard-working Miranda Nelson.
Clearly, word has gotten around about Vaughn's program. He recruited 13 players, expecting to land four or five, but would up with 10. The current team has at least five Division I prospects.
"It gave us a great position to be in," he said of the player windfall.
Antuanisha Wright, a dynamic 5-foot-7 guard from Emery High, is the team leader so far. She was a 2015 Division V All-State selection by Cal-High Sports.
"Just a heck of a player. She's going to be a Division I kid. She's come in and she's been the heart and soul of this team thus far," Vaughn said of Wright.
Another impressive freshman is 6-foot-1 Jojuan Carrington of Dublin.
Vaughn compares Carrington's style to that of San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan because she's highly skilled but not flashy. She worked hard over the summer and became a lot more aggressive, "and in a great way," Vaughn said.
"They did a great job at Dublin, but she needed to cross her t's and dot her I's, and she's taken the necessary steps to do that," Vaughn said of Carrington. "She's a qualifier, and we are certain she's only going to be with us this year, so we'll going to try to get the most out of her. She has received offers, sight unseen, and I think that says something about the quality of kid that we've put out since we've been here with Diane Moore."
Etiene Ekanem (Hercules), a left-handed wing, is "extremely gifted" offensively, but has some work to do on the defensive side, Vaughn said.
"Just a heck of a kid that can put the ball in the basket," Vaughn said of Ekanem.
Brandy Williams, an undersized 5-10 post player out of Deer Valley, has been a "complete monster," Vaughn said. "She has just been incredible. She's an animal. She just works so hard, and for her size she's so strong and athletic. It wouldn’t surprise me if a lower level Division I school said, 'You know what, we'll take her. She's a mauler."
Another Deer Valley product, Amani McCrary is the starting point guard who is really solid and heady.
Intriguing Povai Fesili of Patterson is not the most athletic or fastest player, Vaughn said, but she "plays like Magic Johnson. She has great court vision. A great teammate. Very willing. She's a pass-first point guard. She's 5-9½ playing the point, so she's a big, strong kid. She's a gifted scorer, but she prefers the pass."
Vaughn describes Ford, who will come off the bench, as the best clutch shooter in DVC history. She hit the big shot last season to beat Delta at the buzzer, and scored against Sierra to force overtime, and then hit a couple more baskets to put the Vikings ahead.
Skyline product Safiyya Yasin is an athletic and stylish point guard with a big upside. She is adjusting to the discipline required in junior college play.
Another Division I prospect, Breeanna Grigsby of Stockton is the team's most athletic player and one of its best perimeter defenders at 5-9, Vaughn assures.
"Just super strong, super athletic," Vaughn said of Grigsby. "She reminds me of Sabrea Coleman in how she drives to the basket and how powerful and strong she is in getting to the basket."
Vaughn said Nelson worked "super hard" over the summer, and they hope that extra effort will pay off for her.
Under Vaughn's watch, the program has risen steadily, going from seven wins his first season to 11, 18, 20, and 26. He thinks this bunch is by far the most talented he's had.
"It's been a great ride, a great build. I've got a great coaching staff," Vaughn said.
Vaughn tells his players that they are now "the hunted" because of their high ranking, their accomplishments in high school, and because of what came before them at DVC.
"To get that ranking, it feels good," Vaughn said. "It doesn't mean anything, but it does mean that whoever does the voting, they see what we have and what we've done over the past five years, and they respect it.
"That's a great thing to be respected, but we've still got to go out and play the games."
-- Matt Schwab