Alumnus Ray Witt To Lead Boys’ Basketball

January 14, 2017 by  

boysbbWhen Ray Witt was a student and boys’ basketball player at Bellarmine-Jefferson High, graduating in 1989, he benefited from the education, knowledge and guidance from a group of coaches and teachers.

Now, Witt wants to give back to his alma mater.

With the vision to help mold the lives of young student-athletes and guide the boys’ team in the right direction, Witt has taken over the Bell-Jeff program, accepting the head-coaching position on July 17.

“I love coaching, first of all, that is my first love,” said Witt, 45. “I have really been fortunate to have some very important and influential coaches during my lifetime. They really helped me in my development not only as a player, but as a man, in business and in my family life. One of those coaches was my Bell-Jeff coach, Joe Dunn, who was my coach since fourth grade.

“To be able to take what I’ve learned and give that back to my alma mater is something that is very special to me. It is an opportunity that I am very excited about.”

The Bell-Jeff boys’ basketball program has had its share of successful stints in the past. Witt said he is fully confident that the Guards can be a viable contender in the CIFSouthern Section.

“I was a member of a Bell-Jeff program that had its share of the success in the 1980s,” Witt said. “I know that we can enjoy that kind of success.

“But along with the winning and the basketball skills, I really want to help develop fine upstanding young men so that they can be successful in life.”

After playing at Bell-Jeff, Witt earned a scholarship and played at the University of San Diego. For two seasons ending in 2014, he was the head coach at Heritage Christian in Northridge, where his teams went 19-33 and 4-12 in the competitive Olympic League that featured powerhouses Village Christian and Maranatha. In his first season, the Warriors had their best record in a decade (11-15), placing third in league and advancing to the Division IV-AA playoffs, where they fell in the first round to Muir, 89-64.

Professionally, Witt is the chief operating officer and owner of RainMaker Management Consultants, a firm that handles professional athletes, entertainers and products.

“We’ve hired the best basketball coach for the job,” Bell-Jeff athletic director Fred Martinez. “He has experience at the high school level and we’re excited with his circle of influence that will help in developing our boys’ basketball program and help our school grow overall. He understands the importance of developing student-athletes, he has a great ability to communicate; he’s the perfect fit for what we’re trying to accomplish here.

“Ray can help our students get to the next level. Because he’s been there, he has a deep appreciation for the balances that are required for student-athletes. We are very happy to have Ray join the Bellarmine-Jefferson family.”

With strong connections to a number of current and former NBA and college players and coaches, Witt hopes to use those connections to help motivate and assist the Guards players with clinics and guest speakers.

“I just want to do all that I can to help make Bell-Jeff successful,” Witt said.

Witt takes over for Julian Andrade, who left the program in June to take an assistant coaching position at Oaks Christian. Under Andrade, Bell-Jeff became the most successful basketball program in the city, winning two league championships and placing second in league twice during his five-year tenure. In addition, the Guards advanced to the CIF Southern Section quarterfinals in 2013 and 2014 and made a semifinals appearance in 2015.

The best season under Andrade (81-60, 31-11 in league) — who won his 100th career game in 2015 — came this past season when the Guards won a title in their first year in the Camino Real League. Bell-Jeff advanced to the Division V-A final four for its first semifinal appearance since 1998, losing to St. Bernard, 67-52, as an attempt to quality for its first championship game in 27 years fell short.

Coincidently, the last time the Guards advanced to a CIF title game in 1988, Witt was on the floor for Bell-Jeff. In the Division I-A championship game that year, Witt scored 12 points, but the Guards lost to Beaumont, 80-66, which received an incredible game from Scott Haskin, as the future University of Oregon and NBA player poured in a game-high 58 points. During that playoff run, Bell-Jeff (19-7) also upset No. 1 seed St. Bonaventure in the quarterfinals, 59-51.

“I was part of the Bell-Jeff history, now I want these kids to be part of it as well,” Witt said.

Last season, Bell-Jeff, which went 25-6, graduated league player of the year, All-Area Player of the Year and All-CIF standout Abid Oses, along with all-league and All-Area player Clark Thomas. Junior Isaac Etter, an All-CIF and All-Area player, transferred to Village Christian.

The father of four children, Witt has been married to his high school sweetheart, Angela (Bell-Jeff class of 1988), for 16 years.

“I proposed to my wife on the campus at Bell-Jeff,” Ray Witt said. “The school really means a great deal to me.”

by Jeff Tully,

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times



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