By Ray Hamill — The same trademark determination Garrett Hall is known for on the basketball court has paid off for him away from it too.
The Arcata High senior announced recently that he will be taking his talents to Cal State San Marcos after graduation, to play for the Division-II Cougars.
It’s a move he says he has wanted for some time and one he didn’t shy away from when they came calling.
“I looked at a bunch of junior colleges in the San Diego and LA area, but San Marcos is the school I wanted to go to,” he said. “And I wasn’t going to pass up on the opportunity.”
Hall, a first-team all-Big 5 selection the last two seasons, admits it’s been a dream of his for a long time to play at the Division-II level, and San Marcos was the best option for several reasons.
“It was the main Division-II school I was looking at, and I’ve been talking to them for a while,” the Tigers senior said. “It’s the best location and the best situation for me.”
It was a move that almost didn’t happen, but for the intervention of two local basketball stars, Issac Gildea and Ryan Bisio, each of whom have been a huge influence for the Arcata standout.
Bisio, who has worked wonders since taking over the College of the Redwoods men’s team a year ago, was Hall’s head coach for the first two of his four years playing varsity at the high school, and remains a close confident.
“Bisio believed in me and he believed in my ability,” Hall said. “And that allowed me to grow and get even better as a player.
“He taught me what it means to be a family in basketball and he taught me how to work with my teammates.
“I learned a lot from Bisio, and I’m still in contact with him. He still helps me to this day.”
After what he says was a difficult junior year for a Tigers team “dealing with drama,” Hall admits he lost his motivation for the game, and that it was Gildea, a former McKinleyville, CR and HSU standout, who helped get him back on track.
“He really motivated me and pushed me to keep going and not give up,” Hall said of Gildea, who now coaches the Humboldt Wild, a local travel team program that Hall played with during his freshman and sophomore years. “I’ve got to give a big shout out to Isaac Gildea. He’s definitely a great mentor for me.”
The biggest influence in Hall’s career, however, came a little closer to home.
“My mom,” The Arcata senior said. “She’s made this all possible for me, driving me to camp since I really decided playing Division-II basketball was my dream. I can’t thank her enough.”
As for his playing days at Arcata, Hall says his senior season stands out, especially after the troubles of the year before.
He played a pivotal role late in the season as the Tigers pushed Del Norte all the way in the Big 5 and the Dick Niclai tournament, finishing runners-up in both.
“What will I remember? It had to be playing with my senior teammates,” he said. “The team this year was really fun to play with.”
Hall says he will also fondly remember his freshman campaign, when an Arcata team that also featured Thomas Nelson won the Dick Niclai.
“That’s one I’ll always remember,” he said.
He joins a relatively new San Marcos program that was founded in 2011 and finished 12-16 last year.
Hall will play the two guard or the three for the Cougars.
“I’m just hoping to get a lot stronger and a lot quicker and to improve my game and learn from the older players,” he said.