There were smiles all around Joe White Memorial Gymnasium as Allan Hancock College celebrated nearly 20 student-athletes who have already committed to continue their academic and athletic careers at four-year universities. Coaches, teammates, family, friends and college administrators attended the end-of-the-year signing ceremony on Tuesday afternoon that honored athletes from the football, baseball, softball, men's and women's soccer, and men's basketball programs.
"This is what community college athletics is all about, helping student-athletes pursue degrees and their athletic dreams at four-year universities" said Kim Ensing, Hancock's associate dean and athletic director. "To have so many success stories at one moment is a testament to the dedication, hard work, perseverance, and talent of these young men and women, their coaches, and our entire staff."
Additional athletes have received scholarship offers to play for four-year universities, but have yet to reach a decision. Numerous others will attend four-year universities next year solely for academics.
Five members of the men's basketball team have committed to four-year programs. The men's basketball team is coming off a second-straight 23-win season. The Bulldogs advanced to the second round of the 2019 CCCAA Regional Playoffs.
Forward Spirit Ricks committed to Norfolk State University, a Division I program. The remaining four signed with Division II programs: Gabrys Sadunykas committed to Humboldt State, Glenn Jordan is headed to University of Mary in North Dakota, Mitch L'Allier accepted an offer to Holy Names University, and forward Trenton Mitchell committed to Chico State University. The five men bring the total number of Bulldog men's basketball players, who have signed with four-year universities since Tyson Aye took over the men's basketball program in 2013, to 30.
Ricks, a two-time All-Western State Conference First Team selection, averaged nearly 11 points and seven rebounds, and shot .529 from the field during his Hancock career. The 6'7" forward joins Norfolk State, which competes in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference under the direction of Head Coach Robert Jones. Norfolk is coming off a 23-win season that included an MEAC regular season title and bid to the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) where the Spartans upset No. 1 Alabama in the first round.
Sadunykas averaged nearly six points, five rebounds and three assists per game as a sophomore for Hancock. The 6'5" guard, who led St. Joseph High School to a CIF championship his senior year, joins a Humboldt State program coming off a 17-win season. The Division II program has made three NCAA Tournament appearances and won three conference titles during Steve Kinder's 10 seasons as head coach.
Jordan averaged a team-high 12.0 points per game his sophomore season, shooting .354 from 3-point range and .471 overall from the field. He scored a team-best 21 points in Hancock's first round Regional Playoff win over San Diego Miramar. A two-time All-Conference guard, Jordan finished his Hancock career averaging 11.3 points per game. He joins the University of Mary, a Division II program that competes in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC). The Marauders are coming off a 12-win season under Joe Kittell, who just completed his fourth season as head coach.
Mitchell averaged 7.0 points and 5.9 rebounds per game as a sophomore. The 6'6" forward scored 18 points and pulled down 14 rebounds for a double-double against Oxnard. Mitchell grabbed a season-best 19 boards against San Jose, and set a career high with 20 rebounds as a freshman against Ohlone. He has earned a spot on the Dean's List every semester at Hancock. Mitchell joins Head Coach Greg Clink's program at Chico State. The Wildcats have made nine postseason appearances, including six NCAA Division II Tournament berths, and claimed two NCAA West Region titles and three California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) regular season championships in Clink's 11 seasons.
L'Allier, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, is headed to Holy Names University, a Division II program in Oakland that competes in the Pacific Western Conference. The Hawks went 12-16 last season and made the PacWest Basketball Tournament for the first time in program history. L'Allier saw action in 15 games for Hancock, averaging 2.1 rebounds and 1.9 points.
Yadira Castellanos will run cross country and study sociology at Marymount California University next year. The Lompoc High School graduate was a key member of Hancock's 2017 cross country team that competed at the Southern California Regional Championships, the program's first regional-qualifying team in ten seasons. Marymount, a NAIA program, competes in the California Pacific Conference and is led by second-year head coach Kirsty Shapiro, a former NCAA champion and qualifier for the U.S. Olympic Trials.
Women's soccer star Tatiana Silva committed to Missouri Valley College. Silva led the Bulldogs and ranked fourth in the Western State Conference with 13 goals in the fall. She scored two or more goals on four occasions, including a hat-trick against West Los Angeles. Silva accounted for the game-winning goal in every Hancock victory in 2018. The Nipomo High School graduate scored three times and had one assist her freshman season with Hancock in 2016. Silva joins Missouri Valley College, an NAIA program in Marshall, Missouri that competes in the Heart of America Athletic Conference. Head coach Drew Hawkins has led the Vikings to eight-straight seasons of at least 11 wins and produced six All-Americans since 2012.
Three men's soccer players, Antony Herrera, Jose Sanchez, and Alex Herrera, were recognized for committing to Waldorf University, an NAIA program in Forest City, Iowa that competes in the North Star Atlantic Conference. The Waldorf Warriors won eight games last season under then-second-year head coach Edgar Gonzaga. However, Waldorf is just two seasons removed from a historic 12-win season that included the program's first conference championship game appearance. Former Bulldog Joseph Goryance will be a senior defender at Waldorf in the fall.
Anthony Herrera, an All-Conference honorable mention goal keeper, led the Western State Conference last fall with 88 saves. In two seasons manning the goal for the Bulldogs, the Righetti High School product finished with 170 career saves and .625 save percentage.
Sanchez played in 14 games for Hancock as a sophomore, scoring twice in Hancock's 5-1 win at Bakersfield. The Orcutt Academy graduate also scored the game-winning goal in a win over West Hills as a freshman.
Alex Herrera had three goals and two assists in six games during an injury-plagued sophomore season. The Lompoc High School graduate scored five times and recorded two assists as a freshman, recording a hat trick in a 3-2 win over Victor Valley.
Nearly one dozen players from Hancock's conference and American Bowl championship team have received offers from four-year universities. Those who have already committed to universities were recognized during the ceremony.
Defensive back Domanic Chapa committed to Missouri Western University, a Division II program. Chapa, a member of the Southern California Football Coaches Association's Scholar-Athlete Team, was an all-conference pick his sophomore season after recording 56 total tackles, recovering three fumbles, and intercepting one pass. Missouri Western went 7-5 in 2018, and won the Agent Berry Live United Bowl.
Wide receivers Spencer Pool and J.J. Ramirez signed with the University of La Verne. Pool caught two passes for 23 yards in 2018. In the classroom, the Paso Robles High School graduate earned a 3.40 GPA to earn a spot on the SCFCA Scholar-Athlete Team. Ramirez, a Nipomo High School graduate, made four tackles and caught three passes for 64 yards in the fall. La Verne competes in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SCIAA) and at the Division III level. The Leopards went 3-6 in 2018 under Head Coach Christopher Krich, who led the Leopards to a conference title and NCAA Division III Playoffs in 2015.
A native of Delaware, Angelo Ortiz signed with Western State Colorado University, a Division II program. Ortiz transferred to Hancock this year from Nassau Community College. The all-league linebacker led the Bulldogs in 2018 with 85 total tackles and 15 tackles for loss, six of them were sacks. He forced two fumbles, blocked three kicks, and returned an interception 44 yards for a touchdown. The Mountaineers went 2-9 last season, including a 2-8 mark in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC). Overall, WSCU has won 19 conference titles and made seven appearances in the NCAA Playoffs.
All-conference quarterback Thomas Carr, an Atascdero High School graduate, signed with Indiana State. Carr completed 67 of his 112 passes for 1,101 yards and 10 touchdown, and ran for another score in the fall for the conference and American Bowl champion Bulldogs. Carr also earned a spot on the 2018 SCFA Scholar-Athlete Team. Indiana State is coming off a 7-4 finish, a third-place showing in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, and a No. 22 national ranking under Head Coach Curt Mallory. The Sycamores enjoyed an amazing turnaround from an 0-11 record in 2017 in Mallory's first year at the helm. Indiana State competes in the Football Championship Subdivision and last appeared in the FCS Playoffs in 2014. .
All-conference defensive back Edjuan Works has committed to Benedictine University, a Division III program that competes in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NACC). Benedictine went 3-7 overall and 3-4 in conference last season. Jim Schroeder was named the program's head coach in spring of 2019. Schroeder was defensive coordinator when the Eagles won back-to-back NACC championships and reached the NCAA Division III Playoffs in 2010, 2011, and 2014.
Earlier this year, running back and kick returner Alex Cecchi, an Arroyo Grande High School graduate, signed with Missouri Valley; defensive linemen Dominic King, a St. Joseph High School graduate, committed to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo; and Seth Ollice signed with Western State Colorado University.
Four baseball players already have committed to play at the next level. Ismael Hernandez will play next season for Campbellsville University in Kentucky. Catcher Reed Odland signed with University of Arkansas, Monticello; outfielder Cameron Hirahara signed with Vanguard University; and slugger Jake Shusterich signed with St. Cloud University.
Hernandez led the Bulldogs in 2019 with 39 hits. The Cabrillo High School graduate hit .295 with 24 RBI. He also went 3-4 with a 3.90 ERA and a conference-leading four saves. He finished his Hancock career with 41 total games pitched, which ranks No. 2 in program history. Hernandez signed with Campbellsville University, which won its second-straight Mid-South Conference Tournament championship this spring to punch a ticket to the NAIA Tournament's Opening Round for the fifth-straight year. Former Bulldog Chris Taitague, a Lompoc native, is a senior utility player this season for the Tigers.
Odland, an all-conference catcher, hit .268 with 22 RBI, five home runs, 24 runs scored, and 22 walks. He ranked sixth in conference with a .427 on-base percentage. The left-handed hitting catcher joins a Division II program that competes in the Great American Conference (GAC). The Boll Weevils have won back-to-back regular season conference titles, won 30 or more games the last four seasons, and earned NCAA Regional appearances in 2014, 2016-17, and 2019.
Hirahara, an Arroyo Grande High School graduate returns to Vanguard where he played nine games as a freshman in 2018. He hit .207 with 5 RBI and five runs scored over 21 games with Hancock in 2019. Vanguard competes in the Golden State Athletic Conference at the NAIA level. The Lions won 31 games in 2019, and appeared in the NAIA National Tournament from 2014-16.
Shusterich, who received All-Region honors as a freshman, hit .266 with nine doubles, 17 RBI and a .413 on-base percentage this spring. He also went 2-3 with a 4.46 ERA. The Arroyo Grande High School graduate finished his Hancock career with a .329 career batting average, 11 home runs, 56 RBI, 20 doubles, and 45 runs. St. Cloud State is in the middle of its fifth-straight NCAA Division II Tournament appearance. The Huskies, who are 40-12 this season, have received nine tournament bids since 2010 under Head Coach Pat Dolan. Six former Huskies have played in the Major Leagues, most recently pitcher Nick Anderson who debuted with the Miami Marlins in 2019.
The group of athletes who have received offers, but not committed yet include softball's Zaiden Baake, men's basketball players JT Riddick, the 2018-19 Western State Conference's Defensive Player of the Year, and guard Diego Lucas, as well as all-conference running backs Isaac Bausley and Ryheem Skinner, and defensive tackle Josh Lauvao.