Teams Bolstered By Transfers!

November 24, 2011 by  

BURBANK – Area teams, especialy Providence and Bell-Jeff, have influx of new players. All four area boys’ high school basketball teams have been bolstered this season by transfers.

While the makeup of Burroughs High and Burbank won’t be changed much by the new incoming talent, Providence and Bell-Jeff will likely field teams that will only vaguely resemble the squads that took the floor for the respective programs a year ago.

The Guards are coming off the most successful season, as they won the Santa Fe League championship for the first time in 13 years.

The Bulldogs and Pioneers both made the CIF Southern Section playoffs, but were bounced in the first round. The Indians were the only group that didn’t make the postseason.

Here is a closer look at how the teams are shaping up.


Although the Guards (12-13) captured a league championship in Coach Julian Andrade’s first season, the coach had to deal with his share of discipline problems, strife and aggravation with the group.

But the coach said things have gotten a great deal better this season.

“It’s definitely not like it was last year,” he said. “Things look a lot better this year. We are at a completely different place now than we were at this time last year.”

Bell-Jeff, however, is dealing with replacing its top scorer of a year ago, Micah Shirley, who graduated. Shirley was named the league player of the year, averaged 16.6 points a game and scored 24 in a game against St. Genevieve on Feb. 10 to help the Guards secure the league crown.

The team also lost Brandon White, an all-league player who transferred to Sierra Canyon.

Elijah Reed 1st Team All-League Guard

Trying to make up for the lost scoring, the Guards should benefit from the addition of six transfers.

“We do have six transfers, but we didn’t go out and recruit them,” Andrade said. “They all came to us,”

Two of the transfers are from the country of Serbia, 6-6 junior Branko Ivic and 6-3 senior Nikola Novakovic. The two are nephews of former Bell-Jeff standout Boran Rajcic, who was the league co-player of the year in 2006.

Also transferring into the program from Reseda High is junior Will Morales, 6-2 junior Jalen Henry — bother of Bell-Jeff athletic director and girls’ basketball Coach Jaclyn Johnson — is from Lancaster and sophomore Alex Witherspoon is a transfer from Buckley.

“We might be a little inexperienced, but we will have the talent,” Andrade said. “We will be 11 strong. Any of our 11 players could be starters on any given day. It’s like having 11 starters to choose from.”

A key returner is senior Elijah Reed, a first-team all-league selection. Adam Gupilan, a 6-4 junior, rejoins the team after being ineligible last season.

In league competition, Andrade said the biggest obstacle in front of the Guards and their quest to win their second straight championship is St. Anthony.

By Jeff Tully,

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