It looks like the Westwind Prep basketball program has recovered from its recent meltdown and is beginning a Phoenix-like rise from the ashes.
The Phoenix charter school has hired a successful college coach to take over its high school basketball program and appears to have quashed rumors about departing players.
That’s not particularly good news for the other high school basketball teams in Arizona, many of which were trampled on last season as the small charter school in Phoenix put up an average of 90 points an outing, often scoring over 100.
And it’s probably not soothing news to the Arizona Interscholastic Association, the state’s governing body for high school athletics. That organization has been investigating the program to determine if the boarding school used ineligible players on the way to the 2A state championship last year. Westwind’s roster included kids from China, Latvia, and France.
Other teams have to come up with a game plan to neutralize the kind of talent that Westwind has been able to add to its roster. And the AIA has to find an answer for all the coaches who want the playing field leveled. Moving Westwind up to Division I next year, where they will compete with larger schools, is a good first step.
For awhile there, it looked like the situation might be working itself out. Westwind’s coach for the past four years suddenly, and without notifying the school, accepted an offer to build a similar prep basketball program in La Jolla, Calif. Gary Trousdale had led the team to back-to-back Top 10 national rankings.
Without a head coach, Westwind backed out of the Mesa Summer Prime Time Tournament just before it began last Friday.
Less than two weeks ago, Chris Thomas left the program after just enrolling in February. He was rated as the No. 3 point guard in the nation for the Class of 2013.
And another guard who played last season, Chris Mason, reportedly left the program, too. He was ranked by ESPN among the top five players in the same class as Thomas.
And then it appeared that Marquise Johnson, another guard from last season, was leaving to follow his coach to California. Pictures of Johnson, who was the Small Schools Player of the Year last season, were put up on the website at La Jolla Prep.
And that’s when things came to a head and Trousdale was called out.
So now the pictures of Johnson and other Westwind players have been removed from the website, and Trousdale has said in interviews that he has no players transferring in from Westwind – but does hope to attract Thomas to his program since he’s officially left the Phoenix school.
Moving on, Westwind has hired Ken Carrillo to take over the high school hoops program and bring some stability to the upheaval. A University of Arizona grad, he has made career stops at a handful of colleges, including Northern Arizona University. He also coached at Mountain View High School in Marana early in his career.
He is also the brother of Jerry Carrillo, who has been the head coach at Cochise College, a junior college in Douglas, for the past 16 years. Carrillo has built a program there that has gained national recognition and made him one of the most respected coaches in JUCO basketball. (See Phxfan article 6/17/11… “Cochise College regroups…”)
Marvin Lea, who was on Trousdale’s staff last season, will take over the high school team as head coach.
Westwind also has a post-grad basketball program for students who graduate high school and want to play another year to prepare for college ball; Carrillo will also oversee that program.
Johnson was a senior last season, so he is expected to move up to the post-grad program. That means the high school roster will be without a single starter from last year’s team of domination.
So a lack of returning starters, combined with a move to the top division, may bring all the stars into alignment once again and the Warriors will have to work a lot harder for the hardware.
And the AIA dodges the bullet for at least another year.