It’s not often that a JUCO basketball player has the opportunity to display his wares in front of several, if not hundreds, of four-year college coaches, from NAIA schools all the way up to Division I. That is the case though, this Thursday through Saturday.
The De Anza Dons Men’s Basketball team and other local and Northern California JUCO basketball teams compete in front of coaches, from all over the country. The players are looking to show that they have what it takes to play at the next level, a four-year college or university. At times the team play may be a bit rough around the edges, but college scouts are looking for individual skills and abilities that transcend the level of play on the court.
Dons’ sophomore guard Denzel Copeland, has an opportunity to make an impact at the showcases. He is a proven leader and winner, having been named All-Conference his freshmen year at De Anza. Copeland, a local product from Santa Teresa High School, has significantly improved his jump shot, over the course of the spring and summer, which will be a key ingredient to his allure come showcase time. His new found jumper coupled with his uncanny ability to drive the lane, is a lethal combination that puts pressure on the defense. As the Dons’ hardest worker, Copeland will be looking to lead his team throughout the weekend while turning some four-year coaches’ heads with his high energy style of play.
Serbian player Stef Demirovic will also be angling for a move to the next level. At 6’3”, the sophomore Demirovic is slightly undersized for his position at the wing and in the post, but his skill level is off the charts. Having developed a solid mid-range to extended perimeter game, Demirovic brings a complement to his inside game. His strength, quickness and ability to finish with either hand, gives him an edge against slower defenders around the basket.
Sophomore Jimmy Escudero, a lefty shooter from Modesto Christian, has a smooth release and deep range on the perimeter. At 6’3”, Escudero will be looking to display his long range shooting along with his strength in driving to the basket. The four-year college scouts will be looking for Escudero to knock down open three pointers.
Every team needs a “glue guy,” a player who keeps the team together and helps to get it through tough situations. Sophomore guard, George Henderson may be that guy for the Dons this year. At 6’1”, Henderson can play both guard positions and is a viable back-up option for Copeland at the point. Henderson has an outstanding mid-range shooting game and can be teamed with Copeland and Escudero, to form an extremely tough 3-guard attack. Henderson is a solid guard with an excellent work ethic.
As the Dons’ coaching staff has put together a solid recruiting class, the talents of several freshmen will also be on display, including 6’5” Abu Tratter, 6’6” Buddy Ames, 6’4” Shaquille Gilbert, 6’5” DeVontae Bryant and 6’7” Thomas Estifanos.
The De Anza Dons start their weekend on Thursday, July 12, at the NorCal Juco Summer Jamboree, at Skyline College in San Bruno, California, game times 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. De Anza then moves to the Foothill JUCO Summer Slam, at Foothill College, in Los Altos Hills, Friday, July 13, games at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. They cap their weekend on Saturday, July 14 with games 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Spectators are more than welcome; there may be a nominal entry fee at both venues.