More than half of the players who suit up for Triton Basketball teams this season were not on the roster last year. Out of the 67 total players who survived cuts in all divisions, 34 are new to the program.
The teams also will be decidedly young, with over two-thirds of the players (45) being sophomores or younger, There will be only four seniors.
"We've anticipated for several years that the current freshman, sophomore and junior classes would be among the most talented we've seen at San Clemente," says Varsity Head Coach Marc Popovich. "A large number of these boys played competitive basketball from a young age. We're hoping to see the dividends." Regarding the number of new faces, Assistant Varsity Coach Duwayne Horn, who worked with most of the current Tritons when they were youth players says, "People do want to be part of success," pointing to the championships in three divisions (varsity, JV and sophomore) last season.
Coach Horn also mentioned the fact that this year the Tritons had to cut more players than he could remember happening in the past. "There are players who were cut this year who probably would have made a roster in prior years. And there are players who will play at lower divisions who probably would have been moved up in prior years. Hopefully for the program, it's a good competitive situation."
Obviously, a large number of the newcomers, 24 to be exact, are on the freshman squads (A and B teams). But each level has at least two.
Notable among the new faces is sophomore point guard Gage Shelmidine, who transferred from Saddleback Valley Christian and is expected to challenge for the starting point guard position on the varsity.
The varsity also will get 6-6, 215 center Eric Anderson, who returns to his hometown after spending the first two years of high school in Temecula. He attended middleschool at Shorecliffs with a number of his new teammates.
The junior varsity will get a familiar face with its five newcomers. Tucker Scott, a 6-4, 240 pound, forward/center, grew up locally and played club ball with many of the Tritons. He transferred in from St. Margaret's.
The J.V. also gets two 5-10 junior guards, Ryan Martinez and Rafael Caro. And it adds the stars of this summer's frosh team, 5-8, 150 guard Brandon Reaves and 6-4, 185 forward/center Marcus Wilson.
On the sophomore team, the rookies will be guard Ian Vikan and manager Luke Kaufman.