By Ray Hamill — The College of the Redwoods men’s basketball team will return to practice next week, with 18 players signing up for the basketball conditioning class.
Head coach Ryan Bisio and his staff will work with nine players a session twice a week on Wednesday and Friday, with COVID-19 restrictions in place.
According to Bisio, the players are excited to be getting back and eager to follow up on last season’s historic campaign.
“There’s a lot to be excited about,” Bisio said. “These guys still want more and their story’s not done yet, and I think they’ve been patient and waiting to get back.”
As of right now, the season is expected to tip off in the new year, with more details expected later this month or in early October.
When they begin, however, the Corsairs will do so without former McKinleyville standout Isaac Puzz, who Bisio says is expected to transfer from CR to Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo.
“I think it’s more of a life move for Isaac than a basketball move,” Bisio said. “He gets a chance to live out of the area and he gets a chance to live with some friends of his down there, and he gets a new basketball experience.”
In one season with the team, Puzz played a substantial role off the bench in what was essentially a six-man rotation, and he was particularly effective from the perimeter.
“Obviously we’re going to miss his shooting,” Bisio said. “And we’re going to miss his hard-working approach to practice every day.”
The CR coach says he wishes Puzz nothing but the best and is appreciative of everything he gave to the team.
“It’s JUCO basketball, it’s really fluid,” Bisio said. “And hopefully he’ll have a good year whenever he gets to play.”
Ready to step up
With Puzz ready to move on, a number of other local players appear ready to step up and help fill the gap.
In addition to Del Norte’s Big 5 MVP Omar Banuelos, Arcata’s Niko Zambas also joins the program this year, while big things are expected out of former Eureka Logger Zach Reed, who had a very productive year red-shirting last winter.
Another player who has signed up for the fall class is former Ferndale standout Gio Magdaleno, who played last winter at Napa College.
Big things are also expected out of Kenny Hodges and Octavian Williams, each of whom also red-shirted with the team last winter.
The former Fortuna foursome of Drew Gillette, Zac Claus, Donald Willis and Bradley Willis are all back to lead the way.
“I’m really happy to get them all in the gym,” Bisio said.