Let’s face it, the 2022-23 season has not been a particularly good one for Bay Area college basketball.
Saint Mary’s is the lone Bay Area team to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. Cal won just three games all year, and Stanford finished below .500 despite repeated success in recruiting. USF lacked the inside presence to make a second straight March Madness trip, and Santa Clara, despite having another potential NBA Draft first-rounder in Brandin Podziemski, failed to win a single game in the West Coast Conference Tournament, falling to USF in double overtime after sweeping the Dons in the regular season.
San Jose State is the one Bay Area team that made any serious strides forward this year, led by Mountain West Player of the Year Omari Moore and Coach of the Year Tim Miles, but the Spartans still have a ways to go to compete with the likes of San Diego State and reach the big dance for the first time since 1996.
The lack of teams from the Bay Area doesn’t mean there’s a lack of players from the Bay Area, though. There are five locals on the Gaels’ roster and 15 other players in this year’s tournament who have local ties, plus a handful of coaches.
Arbogast played at De La Salle under Justin Argenal, brother of Razorbacks assistant coach Gus Argenal. When Arbogast’s Spartans faced Monte Vista, he battled Matt Musselman, son of current Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman. Arbogast came to Arkansas as a walk-on but was rewarded with a scholarship in January.
A three-year starter at St. Francis known as a lethal 3-point shooter, Barringer is a walk-on for the Broncos, who will face Northwestern in Sacramento. He’s redshirting this year, suggesting a scholarship and significant playing time may be in his future.
Barrett walked on for the Gaels after winning a North Coast Section title at Piedmont. He became a scholarship player after becoming a mainstay in Randy Bennett’s rotation last year, and has appeared in 26 games in the 2022-23 season and averages the second-most minutes of any player off the bench for Saint Mary’s.
Bennett was a classmate of star guard Aidan Mahaney at Campolindo. He’s the younger of head coach Randy Bennett’s two sons. His older brother, Chase, plays at Division III Linfield.
Boum, who played his high school ball at Oakland Tech and averaged 10.9 points per game as a freshman at USF, starts in the backcourt as a grad transfer for the Musketeers. He spent his prior three seasons at UTEP, but this year will be his first and only NCAA Tournament appearance.
The Marin Catholic alum has become a cult hero in his one season at UConn, earning the nickname “Joey California” and a reputation as a sharpshooter off the bench. Calcaterra spent four seasons at San Diego and was poised to transfer to Vanderbilt before a last-minute call from Huskies head coach Dan Hurley.
It’ll be a relatively short trip from San Jose to Denver for Despie’s family to watch the Horned Frogs face either Arizona State or Nevada. Despie walked on for the Horned Frogs after scoring 17.8 points per game as a senior at Bellarmine.
The 6-foot-8 freshman from De La Salle, who often sports a headband and old-school mustache, walked on for the Wolf Pack this year.
A freshman walk-on for the Gaels, Gad will be joined by Granada High School teammate Andrew McKeever at Saint Mary’s next year.
Aside from having Oakland listed as his hometown and San Francisco as his birthplace, there’s little on Grandison’s official bio that implies he has any connection to the Bay Area whatsoever. He attended Berkeley High before spending a post-grad year at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, but he only played one season for the Yellowjackets. Grandison played two seasons at Holy Cross and two at Illinois.
The Salesian alum is in a bench role for the Aztecs as a redshirt freshman. A 6-foot-10 forward, Johnson has appeared in seven games.
After spending his first three years of high school at Envision Academy, Johnson played at San Leandro as a senior. He starts for an Aztecs team that drew a tough first round matchup in College of Charleston.
One of former NBA guard Tyler Johnson’s younger brothers, the St. Francis alum has started all but three games for the Gaels over the last three seasons after transferring from Cincinnati when head coach Mick Cronin left to take the UCLA job. He scored a career-high 34 points in a February win at Portland.
A four-year starter at Campolindo who lost just 15 games in his entire high school career, Mahaney has been one of the best freshmen in the entire nation. A 25-point debut against Oral Roberts was just the beginning for Mahaney, who gained recognition on the national stage after scoring 18 in an overtime win against Gonzaga.
A Vallejo native in his second season with the Lopes, McMillan has started each of GCU’s last 20 games. He spent his first three years of high school at St. Patrick-St. Vincent before transferring to public school Bethel as a senior. He then spent the 2019-20 year at Golden State Prep, Prolific Prep’s post-graduate program. Teammate Jovan Blacksher Jr. was born in Oakland, but played his high school ball in Arizona.
Along with his twin brother Cade, Ronzone spent his high school career at Bishop O’Dowd before walking on for the Sun Devils.
Ronzone and his twin brother, Austin, are among the walk-ons for an ASU team that’ll be playing in the First Four on Wednesday against Nevada.
Sellers averages 5.3 minutes per game off the bench for the Trojans as a freshman. He was born in Fremont and grew up in Hayward before prepping at Modesto Christian and Southern California Academy.
It’s been a long road to glory for the St. Ignatius alum, but Trammell has finally found his spot on the big stage for the Aztecs. Overlooked because of his size, Trammell spent a post-graduate year at Golden State Prep, then played at City College of San Francisco before playing two seasons at Seattle. Since transferring to SDSU this season, Trammell has played in all but one game and started in all but two.
A 2018 Bishop O’Dowd graduate, Williams played at Menlo College and Colorado Christian before joining the Islanders as a graduate student. He’s played in 32 of 33 games, coming off the bench in 28 of them. He averages 9.7 points per game for the Southland Conference champions, good for fourth-most on the team.
When the Boilermakers take the court, most eyes will be on 7-foot-4 center Zach Edey, but Purdue has a graduate assistant who played on Palo Alto High’s best teams since Jeremy Lin. Wulbrun, son of former Stanford assistant and current Denver head coach Jeff Wulbrun, was a walk-on at Purdue for the prior three seasons and is now in his first year on the coaching staff.
Saint Mary’s graduate assistant Holden Wright is also as local as it gets. He was a student manager at both De La Salle and Saint Mary’s before becoming a staff member.
Seven-foot-five Connor Vanover, who’s so tall he didn’t need a ladder to cut down the net after Oral Roberts won the Summit League, played at Cal before transferring to Arkansas. Oral Roberts, known for upsetting Ohio State as a 15 seed in 2021, is Vanover’s third school. Star guard Max Abmas, who led the Eagles to that 2021 upset, will make ORU a trendy upset pick once again.
Another Cal transfer, Matt Bradley, starts at SDSU alongside Johnson and Trammell. Andre Kelly, who left Cal for UC Santa Barbara before the 2022-23 season, started all 33 games for the Gauchos, who won the Big West to return to the tournament.
While the list of assistant coaches who spent at least brief stints in the Bay Area is far too long to enumerate in full, Kansas assistant Kurtis Townsend stands out. Townsend, who is half-Filipino, grew up in San Jose and played at now-closed Camden High before a college career at Menlo and Western Kentucky. He was an assistant coach at Leland and Del Mar, then served as head coach at Leigh and Willow Glen before ascending to the collegiate ranks.
If none of those players or teams appeal to you, you can always cheer for Furman. The South Carolina school of roughly 2,500 students is making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1980 after winning the Southern Conference. While the school is renowned for its beautiful campus, the real selling point is its iconic chant, “FU All The Time!” University presidents have been known to lead the chant for decades, and the football team has even sported it on the back of its helmets.
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