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PREP PREVIEW: Boys basketball – The San Diego Union-Tribune

For the St. Augustine High boys basketball team there is no better place to start the 2022-23 season than where the Saints finished 2021-22 — ranked No. 1 in the county.

“People know we’re good,” said Saints coach Mike Haupt. “We’re a big game for every team we play.”

St. Augustine was 23-8 last season, ran the table to win the tough Western League and beat Mission Bay, La Costa Canyon and San Ysidro to capture the San Diego Section Open Division championship.

Then, after falling way behind early, the Saints lost 81-76 at a loaded Chatsworth Sierra Canyon in the Southern California Open Division playoffs.

The loss is the bad news.

The good news is that St. Augustine returns all five starters — Jurian Dixon, the San Diego Section Player of the Year, All-CIF performers Jaden Matingou, LoLo Rudolph and Ian de la Rosa and all-league forward Derrius Carter-Hollinger.

Plus, the top two players off the bench return — sharp-shooting Vincent Ricchiuiti and MJ Jackman.

Make no mistake, even with a loaded roster, it won’t be easy for the Saints to repeat as champions.

San Ysidro, ranked No. 2 in the county to start the season and No. 91 in the nation by MaxPreps, has reloaded.

Mikey Williams, who left during the COVID pandemic, returns as a senior after being named National Freshman of the Year three years ago, 6-foot-8 JJ Taylor, a transfer from defunct Donda Academy, Angelo Gil, a transfer from Mission Bay, where he was second-team All-CIF, 6-8 Andrei Tovar, 6-4 point guard Gerardo Guerrero and freshman Ty Ingram, the son of Tyrone Shelley, one of San Diego’s legendary players.

Williams and Taylor have committed to Memphis. Williams, a 5-star player, is ranked No. 22 in the nation. Taylor, a 4-star, is ranked No. 63.

Tovar is a member of the Mexican National U-18 team. Guerrero is a member of the Mexican National U-17 team.

“No one said it would be easy,” Haupt said.

“My team is a blast to coach. They’re so smart basketball-wise.

“They all understand the game, they process things fast. That allows us to practice fast and play fast.”

Here is how Haupt describes his top players:

• Dixon — The hub of our team, an unselfish player. He was great last year, and he’ll be great this year.

• Rudolph — He has improved a ton, and he was already good. He’s a built-in leader.

• De la Rosa — Our glue guy. He’s a really good player who makes everyone around him better. He’s the X-factor, a game changer.

• Montigou — Another team-oriented player. He does a lot to help the team, but at the end of the game has a darn good stat line.

• Carter-Hollinger — A bigger body, inside presence. He does a lot of the hard work down low that goes unnoticed. But we notice.

• Ricchiuiti — He could start for almost every other team in the county. He can really shoot it, and in our offense, he’ll be open and get his shots.

Like San Ysidro, St. Augustine will play a national schedule.

San Ysidro will play state-ranked West Ranch, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, and Las Vegas Bishop Gorman on Jan. 28 in a doubleheader with the La Jolla Country Day girls, who play Racho Cucamonga Etiwanda. San Ysidro is also in the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic.

St. Augustine is playing in the Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas, will host a section of the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic and will play Notre Dame in the Nike Extravaganza as well as East Catholic of Connecticut in the Hoophall Classic in Massachusetts.

“I don’t think there is any pressure,” Dixon said. “We love playing, love playing together.

“I don’t look to score. I look to make plays. If I score, well OK.

“We share the ball. What my teammates do elevates my game.”

Rudolph is the point guard, the guy who runs the show, the player Haupt relies on to get things right.

“I look at those trips as a team-bonding thing,” Rudolph said. “I think they’ll bring out the best in us. Those big games will allow us to get the little things down so we’re sharp for the big games in our league and playoffs.

“We already hang out together, so traveling together won’t be a big deal. I think part of what makes us good is that we’re friends off the court, too. We eat together, text each other, hang out together.

“It’s not just practice and we all go home.

“All five starters are leaders.

“Jurian and Ian have elevated their game. I’m a pass-first player who has become a better shooter.

“No one on this team has an ‘I’m-gonna-get-mine attitude.’”

De la Rosa has been an underrated, and underappreciated player (not to his teammates) for his entire career.

He does a lot of little things that go unnoticed that lead to wins.

“I try to focus on the overall game,” de la Rosa said. “I try and lock in, help us win games.

“I see what needs to be done, and I go help.”

The bonding, the friendships, the unselfish play are things that excite Haupt.

He yells a lot at practice, but is also quick with a compliment when things are done right, which is often.

“We have a lot of options on this team, a lot of really good players.” Haupt said. “We’ve asked everybody to sacrifice something because that’s what it takes to hang a championship banner.”

Key date

CIF Finals: Feb. 23-25

Defending champions

Open Division: St. Augustine

Division I: Carlsbad

Division II: Mt. Carmel

Division III: San Dieguito Academy

Division IV: Monte Vista

Division V: St. Joseph Academy.

2021-22 Player of the Year: Jurian Dixon, St. Augustine.

Players to watch

(In alphabetical order)

CJ Aldridge, Rancho Buena Vista, Fr., Has a chance to be special

Carmen Arcenial, Olympian, Sr., 4-year starter

Justin Ayubi, Coronado, Sr., Returning starter

Luke Ball, Bishop’s, Sr., Drawing small-college interest

J.J. Bartelloni:Torry Pines, Sr., Drawing small-college interest

Drew Bickley, Santa Fe Christian, Sr., All-leaguer who can shoot it

Micah Brickner, Scripps Ranch, Sr., At 6-5, has next-level talent

Christian Brown, La Costa Canyon, Sr., 1st-team All-CIF

Kai Brown, Scripps Ranch, Jr, Transfer from Torrey Pines

Alex Cabulo, Torrey Pines, Sr., Drawing small-college interest

Derrius Carter-Hollinger, St. Augustine, Arizona Christian commit

Joe Cruz, Madison, Sr., PG, who averaged 10 points, 5 assists, 4 steals

Jackson Daniels, Helix, Jr, Returning all-leaguer

Euan Davis, El Camino, Jr., Returning all-leaguer

Aiden DeLange, Pacific Ridge, Sr., Great passer. 4-year starter

Ian de la Rosa, St. Augustine, Sr., Returning All-CIF player

Ozzeno Diallo, Hoover, Sr., 1st-team all-leaguer

Jurian Dixon, St. Augustine, Sr., San Diego Section Player of the Year

Tony Duckett, Carlsbad, Jr., Getting Division I-college looks

Mazen El Bissat, San Marcos, Sr., Scorer who gets to the rim

Ryan Enos, Cathedral Catholic, Sr., Solid 6-8 big man

Ben Felice, Christian, Sr., 3-point specialist. Getting college looks

Shea Fitzgerald, Cathedral Catholic, Sr., Returing all-leaguer

Noe Flores, Kearny, Sr., Scorer with good shooting stroke

Luke Gibson, West Hills, Sr., 4-year starter. Top-flight defender

Angelo Gil, San Ysidro, Sr., 2nd-team All-CIF. Transfer from Mission Bay

Zane Goldman, San Marcos, Sr., Signed with Pacific, Oregon

Gerardo Guerrera, Sr., San Ysidro, Getting college offers

Gavin Guinn, Vista, So., Colleges already looking

Tyler Hagan, Bishop’s, Returning starter at PG

Jake Hall, Carlsbad, So, 1st-team All-CIF as a freshman

Tayshaun Harris, Oceanside, So., Talented young player

Kaden Heinricy, Steele Canyon, Sr., Transfer from Santana

Ty Hendler, La Costa Canyon, Sr., Coloroado College commit

Jake Henderson, Mission Vista, Sr., Skilled scorer. Good defender

Lorenzo Hernandez, Patrick Henry, Sr., 6-2 with a good frame

Vince Hillman, West Hills, Sr., 6-5 forward who can shoot it

Caleb Hofmeister, Mission Hills, Sr., Small guard, but can he shoot it

Charlie Hutchinson, Mission Bay, Jr., At 6-7 is an emerging big man

Cyprian Hyde, Vista, Sr., 6-10 big man has signed with Portland

Ty Ingram, San Ysidro, Fr., Son of Tyrone Shelly

Ahmad Jackson, Canyon Hills, Sr., Returning all-leaguer

Jake Jackson, Madison, Sr., At 6-5, a 2-time 1st-team all-leaguer

Shakur Jackson, Hoover, Sr., Returning all-leauger

Talan Jasiulis, Sweetwater, Fr., Can score, rebound and pass

Alex Jenkins, Steele Canyon, Sr., 1st-team all-league. Getting college offers

Jack Jillson, Misson Hills, Jr., Returning all-leaguer

Brock Kifleyesus, Helix, Sr., Returning all-leaguer

Ethan Kim, Canyon Crest Academy, Sr., Returning starter

Danny Lopez, Escondido Charter, Sr., PG who runs the offense

Trent Lotito, Rancho Buena Vista, Jr., Three-year starter. Shooter

Justin Lubisich, Poway, Sr., Ready to take the next step

Brycen MacKenzie, Santa Fe Christian, 1st-team all-leaguer

MJ Madore, Orange Glen, Sr., Getting small-college offers

Jeremiah Malins, Olympian, Sr., 4-year starter

Noah Marte, San Diego, Sr., Getting small-college offers

Jaden Matingou, St. Augustine, Sr., All-CIF. Point Loma Nazarene commit

Xair Mendez, Montgomery, Sr., Returning all-leaguer

Thomas Metcalf, Mission Bay, Sr., Active guard, who can go inside

Zaki Monqad, Valhalla, Sr., Returning starter

Cole Murray, Carlsbad, Sr., Returning all-leaguer

Kai Nakamura, Patrick Henry, Sr., Hasa good overall game

Kyle Neff, Mission Hills, Sr., Returning starter

Chase Newman, Ramona, Sr., 1st-team all-leaguer

Baron Noble, San Diego, Sr., Veteran leader

Dalton Norvell, Ramona, Sr., Returning all-leaguer

Tan Nguyen, Oceanside, So.Small guard who can fly

Xavier Ogle, Rancho Bernardo, Sr., Returning all-leaguer

Vincent Patterson, Calvin Christian, Sr., 6-6 big man can be a load

Patrick Perez, Christian, Sr., Scorer who is getting small-college looks

Shane Perry, La Costa Canyon, Jr., Injured last year. Ready for break out

Isaiah Pomare, El Camino, Jr., 6-6 big man is nephew of Gyno Pomare

Nolan Reuter, Coronado, Sr., Returning starter

Axel Rivera, Orange Glen, Sr., Returning starter from 19-win team

Jayelon Rogers, Mission Vista, Sr., Big lefty guard, who can score

Lolo Rudolph, St. Augustine, Jr., Returning All-CIF player

Dalton Runyan, Rancho Bernardo, Sr., Top-notch shooter

Zeid Salem, West Hills, Sr., 6-5 and can shoot it

Joseph Saluares, Sweetwater, So.’Will be impact player

Alek Sanchez, Montgomery, So., Big part of 6-spohomore group

JJ Sanchez, Montgomery, So, 1st-team all-league as freshman

Evan Sauer, Pacific Ridge, Sr., Lefty shooter who can score

John Scates, Escondido Charter, Sr., Top-flight football-basketball guy

Jaiden Schube, Scripps Ranch, Sr., Nice piece of last year’s state champions

Joel Schwanter, Maranatha Christian, Sr., At 6-5 is tenacious rebounder

Isaiah Sutton, Kearny, Sr., Athletic triple-jump champion

JJ Taylor, San Ysidro, Sr., 4-star transfer. Committed to Memphis

Shay Todd, Rancho Buena Vista, Jr., Returning all-leaguer. Enforcer

Jayden Wade, San Diego, So., Has chance to blossom into a star

Ahkwon White, Helix, Sr., Returning all-leaguer

Alex Williams, Steele Canyon, Fr.:Point guard had a big summer

Mikey Williams, San Ysidro, Sr.5-star who returns home. Memphis commit

Cameron Wood, Rancho Bernardo, Sr., Drawing small-college interest

Lawond Zangana, Granite Hills, Sr., 6-8 and skilled