Hours before attending a ceremony to sign letters of intent in the Sheldon High School library Wednesday night, five Huskies basketball players plopped down onto a couch in the athletic lounge.
Each smiled, then exhaled, as if this were the calm before the storm.
A season filled with great expectations started with three seniors accepting scholarships and two other starters still in the college recruiting mix. Last season's Bee Player of the Year D'Erryl Williams, a 6-foot-2 point guard, and fellow Bee first-team All-Metro teammate Dakarai Allen, a 6-6 swingman, are headed to San Diego State, where the Aztecs in recent years have moved up in the rankings and have been fixtures in the NCAA Tournament.
Darin Johnson, a 6-3 combo player, is headed to Washington. Johnson grew up playing on youth and AAU teams alongside Williams and Allen, even while attending Franklin High, from where he transferred last spring.
Then there are Sheldon's other seniors, Ryan Manning and Armani Hampton. Manning, a 6-6 wing with good three-point range, said he hopes to sign a scholarship deal in the coming months. Hampton, a 6-3 combo guard, may miss this season after re-injuring his surgically repaired knee that kept him out of last year's run to the state championship game.
Not since Jesuit in the early 1990s has a regional team had so much talent. Sheldon reached the state Division I final last season, falling to national power Mater Dei of Santa Ana.
The Sac-Joaquin Section has not won a D-I large-school state title.
"This is an easy group to coach when they do everything right students, players, good kids," Sheldon coach Joey Rollings said.
Williams and Allen said San Diego State is a good fit, especially after being given a tour of the area and the beaches by current Aztecs players they know well Chase Tapley of Sacramento High and Xavier Thames of Pleasant Grove.
"It just felt right," Allen said.
Each player said he worked just as hard in the classroom as he did on the court to achieve his scholarship. Without qualifying transcripts, there is no chance to land a scholarship.
"In my household, we always did homework first school was the most important thing," Williams said.
Johnson agreed, adding, "We wouldn't be going to college without good grades."
Though Allen proudly wears his San Diego State cap, flat brim and all, he said he doesn't talk much about his scholarship.
"We don't want people to think we're gloating," he said. "But it does feel good."
Added Rollings, their coach: "They should be proud. It's hard to get a scholarship."
WHERE THEY'RE GOING
Area high school athletes who confirmed their NCAA letter-of-intent signings:
|Josh Adams||Baseball||Pleasant Grove||UC Santa Barbara|
|Ali Aguilar||Softball||Casa Roble||Washington|
|Dakarai Allen||Basketball||Sheldon||San Diego State|
|Haley Anderson||Basketball||Oak Ridge||UC San Diego|
|Michal Andreatta||Water polo||Roseville||Virginia Military Institute|
|Brett Bautista||Baseball||Granite Bay||San Jose State|
|Meagan Bennett||Lacrosse||St. Francis||St. Mary's|
|Lauren Bertoy||Softball||Oak Ridge||Stanford|
|Tyler Blake||Baseball||Franklin||Sacramento State|
|Courtney Brignac||Basketball||El Camino||Chico State|
|Lauren Bryan||Lacrosse||St. Francis||Fresno State|
|Morgan Carter||Softball||Pleasant Grove||Utah State|
|Kaitlyn Cozens||Water polo||St. Francis||Michigan|
|Alec De Watteville||Baseball||Oak Ridge||San Jose State|
|Maggie Drysch||Equestrian||Oak Ridge||Oklahoma State|
|Allyson Fellows||Swimming||Woodcreek||San Jose State|
|Kayla Fields||Softball||Roseville||South Dakota State|
|Stephanie Geyer||Basketball||Del Oro||Army|
|Jordan Gotro||Diving||Oak Ridge||South Carolina|
|Andre Gregory||Baseball||Jesuit||Sacramento State|
|Shelbie Holden||Diving||Bella Vista||Fresno State|
|Dejza James||Basketball||Pleasant Grove||Arizona|
|Lynette Johnson||Basketball||Kennedy||Utah State|
|Whitney Jorgensen||Swimming||Roseville||Boise State|
|Katie King||Basketball||River City||CSU Northridge|
|Aaron Knapp||Baseball||Granite Bay||Cal|
|Marisa Kolokotronis||Water Polo||St. Francis||Brown|
|Dylan Kubick||Swimming||Oak Ridge||UC Santa Barbara|
|Cypress Lampe||Swimming||Oak Ridge||UC San Diego|
|Hannah Lissera||Volleyball||St. Francis||Seattle|
|Sarah Meltz||Rowing||Oak Ridge||Creighton|
|Brandon Mills||Swimming||Oak Ridge||Arizona State|
|Amber Murray||Softball||Pleasant Grove||Eastern Kentucky|
|Demi Muses||Volleyball||Casa Roble||New Hampshire|
|Dom Nunez||Baseball||Elk Grove||UCLA|
|Bailey O'Mara||Softball||St. Francis||Pacific|
|Frankie Orlando||Softball||Woodcreek||San Diego State|
|Gabriella Palmeri||Volleyball||St. Francis||Pepperdine|
|Taryn Renowden||Softball||Elk Grove||Loyola Marymount|
|Megan Roberson||Basketball||Del Campo||Air Force|
|Brianna Ruiz||Basketball||Del Oro||Washington|
|Jackie Schmaeling||Softball||Oak Ridge||St. Martin's|
|Hanna Schneider||Water Polo||Bella Vista||UC San Diego|
|Maile Seto||Crew||St. Francis||Tulsa|
|Eric Stutteville||Basketball||Casa Roble||Sacramento State|
|Keaton Subjeck||Wrestling||Oak Ridge||Stanford|
|Ryan Tellez||Baseball||Elk Grove||USC|
|Kyndra Trevino-Scott||Volleyball||Bella Vista||Hawaii-Hilo|
|Tori Trylovich||Tennis||Oak Ridge||Sacramento State|
|Dana Vestman||Volleyball||St. Francis||Montana State|
|Casey Williams||Basketball||Sacramento||Fullerton State|
|D'Erryl Williams||Basketball||Sheldon||San Diego State|
|Haley York||Rowing||Bella Vista||UMass-Amherst|