By Ray Hamill — Arcata senior Niko Zambas will reunite with his former high school coach after announcing this week he will play basketball at College of the Redwoods.
The Tigers standout has been on the Corsairs’ radar for some time, having played for CR head coach Ryan Bisio when he was a sophomore, back when Bisio was head coach at Arcata.
“It’s all signed sealed and delivered,” a delighted Bisio said after the decision was announced on Friday. “And we’re pretty happy about it.”
The CR head coach has made a habit of delving into the local pool of talent since taking over the program 13 months ago, convincing numerous H-DNL standouts to stay local and play for the team.
Zambas, who was also an outstanding receiver for the Tigers in football, is the latest in a long line of Big 5 players to commit to the Redwoods revolution.
“I coached him at Arcata and at AAU for a year or more, and he was a productive point guard,” Bisio said. “He’s got some really good point guard instincts, and the way he was used the last couple of years has helped his versatility.”
As a freshman, Zambas will be expected to provide depth on a loaded Corsairs roster that will be sophomore heavy next winter.
He is, however, expected to come in and have an immediate impact.
“He’s a high IQ player, and he plays with a lot of unselfishness,” Bisio said. “He understands the music of the game. He really is a student and I think he’s ready for his college education.”
Bisio says Zambas has grown as a player since he coached him.
“When I saw Arcata play this year, I really enjoyed the way he played,” the CR head coach said. “I think he’s rounded himself out as a player.”
Zambas, a three-year varsity player at Arcata, played a pivotal role in the Tigers’ Big 5 and Dick Niclai challenge this past season, with Arcata finishing runners-up in each.
He joins Big 5 MVP Omar Banuelos out of Del Norte as new recruits for the defending Golden Valley Conference champions.
With the expected return of six of their top seven players, as well as five players who red-shirted this past season, the Corsairs should have plenty of competition for places when they return this fall.
And Bisio isn’t done yet.
“We’ve still got some (out-of-the-area) guys we’ve been working with,” he said. “As far as locals, we feel good about where we are right now.”
Eureka’s Zach Reed will also be on the roster next season after red-shirting this past winter.
Zambas is the ninth local player to join the Corsairs since Bisio took over.