Micah Chen, who will be joining veteran play-by-play broadcaster Mike Bastinelli on a number of our 2017-18 High School Boys Varsity Basketball broadcasts this winter on 1460 ESPN Yakima, logs this preseason capsule:
Pirates Look to Continue State Basketball Playoff Tradition

AC Davis High School basketball has a reputation of being, not just one of the best programs coming out of Yakima but, one of the best programs in the entire state. With that reputation comes lofty expectations.

“The nice thing about setting goals at Davis is we have a lot of goals that are not mentioned but we understand them, and one of those would be to make the state playoffs,” said Davis head coach Eli Juarez.

The unquestioned leader of this year’s AC Davis team is four-year starter Collin Kelley, a man that has seen some things. “I’ve been to state two of the last three years. I know that playoff basketball can be nerve-wracking for younger guys, so I’m just trying to bring them together right now. I want to go back and win state this year.”  Kelley has been training relentlessly this off-season, while also showcasing his talent across the country. “I've traveled up and down the east coast, also went down to California, and I’ve been talking to some colleges,” Kelley said, describing his off-season. Kelley will have a strong supporting cast of three stand-out returning players; fellow senior Alexzander Delgado, junior Brock Williams, and junior Ivory Kimble.

Delgado is a scrappy 5-9 160lb PG going into his second year as a starter and third year on the varsity roster. Delgado played in all 24 games last year and averaged 14.2 PPG. “My job is to distribute the ball to my teammates, get them open, and make them better. One of my strength’s is my scoring ability too, and I’d like to be in that 15-20 PPG game range this season,” said Delgado.

Joining Delgado in the backcourt will be returning starter at SG Brock Williams. Brock played 24 games as a sophomore last year and averaged 5.3 PPG. Williams is most-focused this year “to shoot the ball and get as many points as possible,” said Williams on his role in this Davis’ offense. Williams is also a stand-out on the baseball diamond, playing for the elite Yakima Beetles Legion team.

At the center position will be 6-2 junior Ivory Kimble. Kimble acknowledges he’s a little undersized for the center position, but says he makes up for it with an aggressive mentality. “I bring a lot of hustle and intensity and I feel that translates to getting everyone fired up. Sometimes (being only 6-2) can have a few setbacks, but just being the tougher guy will make it work”.

Beyond those three players, there’s a lot of inexperience and general unknown on this roster. But there’s a lot of potential as well, and it starts with 6'1" junior forward Chando Chavez. Chavez is the only other returning player, and will be expected to anchor Davis’ second unit. “We have some good starters right now and coming off the bench is going to be really good for me. I’m a good shooter, I’ve got a good release, and I have a lot of motivation.”

A sophomore to keep an eye on this season is 6-1 guard Earl Lee. Lee’s role will be to come off the bench and put up a lot of points. Lee’s name will be called frequently when Davis’ needs a spark on offense.

Two seniors making their Varsity debuts are 5-11 guard Noe Mendoza and 6-1 center Alex Duran. Noe Mendoza has been described by his teammates as being one of most the “slithery” players on the court who knows where to find the open spots on the floor and hit mid-range shots. Alex Duran might be similar to Ivory Kimble in their both undersized for the center position, but Duran’s strength is positioning himself for rebounds and getting points in the low post.

Two wild cards to look out for is freshman guard Jose Reyes, who Kelley believes will be an “all-star in the future.”  And then there’s 5-9 sophomore PG Lincoln Hollandboone who will come in to spell Delgado.

One of Collin Kelleys main focal points for this season has been injury prevention. “We can’t get hurt this year. We don’t have as much as depth as we have in years past so keeping myself at 100% has been important. I’ve been working on injury prevention, the coaching staff has told me to not take unnecessary risks during practice.” These precautions have been put in because losing Kelley would most likely end Davis’ dreams of winning state.

One of the keys to the beginning of this season will be to acclimate the young talent to the speed of the varsity game. Davis needs to get out of the gate fast to prove their not just a four or five man team.

A game the entire state has circled is Davis vs Gonzaga Prep on December 23th. Davis traveled to Spokane last year to play Gonzaga Prep and got beat 61-37, a game that Kelley has a fond memory of. “We were just off the entire game, definetely a bad memory of that one. But this year we get to host Gonzaga Prep, and we’d like to do the same thing to them on our home floor.” This game against Gonzaga Prep will be a great measuring stick to see how Davis stacks up with the rest of the state. “Nowadays with that RPI schedule, everybody has to schedule teams that are really tough in the state, so we try to create a schedule that’s going to be tough and very challenging for us. Therefore we play the Gonzaga Prep’s with the 6-9 centers, or we’ll travel to across the state to play some of those teams,” said head coach Eli Juarez.

Other notable games to look out for is AC Davis vs West Valley on January 5th, AC Davis vs Eisenhower on January 6th, and AC Davis vs Wenatchee on January 26th.

The key for this 2017-2018 AC Davis team will be to stay healthy. If they can do that, they can go as deep as anyone in the state playoffs.

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