The Inland Empire Athletic Conference race for the upcoming season will be one of the most exciting ones in the state of California. Last season, the conference had three teams make the post season as San Bernardino, Mt. San Jacinto and Chaffey made it the playoffs. The three teams did not have success in the post season after Mt. San Jacinto and Chaffey suffered first round losses and San Bernardino lost in the 2nd round against Los Angeles Valley. The 2021-2022 will be a season to watch within the conference as we feel there is 4-5 teams that could be in the running for a post season bid.
Signal The Light Basketball 2021-2022 Inland Empire Athletic Conference Preview
San Bernardino (20-10, 10-6): The Wolverines won 20 games in the 2019-2020 season and finished in 3rd place in the Inland Empire Athletic Conference. The 3rd place finish in conference gave San Bernardino a 14 seed for the post season and the Wolverines suffered a 2nd round loss against 3rd seeded Los Angeles Valley in the 2019-2020 season.
The Wolverines will look to build off their 20 win season in 2019-2020 coming into the new season. San Bernardino returns two players off the 2019-2020 season. “6-3” Anthony Bell returns for his sophomore season as the defensive specialist is a game changer at the defensive end. “6-6” Jashon Brown will also return for the Wolverines and add sophomore experience. “6-5” Devin Fortune (transfer Pacific University Oregon), “5-8” Brandon Thompson “6-5” Jonah Crump, “6-3” Michael Mubarak (Skagit Valley transfer), “6-11” Tynerion Jackson will all be sophomores and will look to contribute for the upcoming season. “6-2” Armond Muldrew (transfer from Lenoir-Rhyne) will be a player to watch and should have an impact for the Wolverines. “5-9” Dom Daniels (Trinity) will bring quickness and the four year prospect will be a difference maker this season for the Wolverines. “7-0” Chester Makoi (Mt. Zion) will be another talented freshman that four year schools should have on their radar. San Bernardino has a lot of depth and size and the Wolverines should be expected to be a very good team for the upcoming season. We expect San Bernardino to compete for a conference championship and make a post season run for the 2021-2022 season.
Mt. San Jacinto (15-14, 11-5): If there is one thing you know about the Eagles program, it is they do not shy away from competition. Mt. San Jacinto started off non conference playing one of the toughest schedules in the state and started the season 6-9. When conference came around, the Eagles were battle tested and earned a 2nd place finish in the Inland Empire Conference. The 11 wins in conference earned the Eagles the 17th seed where Mt. San Jacinto lost in the first round against West Los Angeles to end their 2019-2020 season.
The Eagles come into the season a team that will be fairly competitive and will look to have an improved 2021-2022 season. Mt. San Jacinto returns four players from their 2019-2020 rooster for the upcoming season. “6-1” Ethan Bell (3.3 points), “6-2” Danilo Da Silva (4.9 points), “6-5” Mekhi Hill (6.4 points), and “6-7” left handed Isaiah Williams (2.3 points) all return for the Eagles. “6-6” Josh Hardiman will be a player to watch this season as the very talented forward should be an impact player. Hardiman is a player that four year schools should have on their radar as the sophomore is expected to have a big season for the Eagles. “6-5” Anton Mozga is another player that will have an impact as The Masters transfer will be key this season for Mt. San Jacinto. “6-6” Isaiah Skinner (Xaiver Prep) is a freshman that is going to stretch for the floor with his unlimited range and another player that four year coaches around the nation should have their eyes on. “5-8” Cameron Durr (Xaiver Prep), “6-3” Isiah Shirley (Orange Vista HS), and “6-7” Adrian Ludwig (Hemet, CA) are three other freshman that could contribute this season for the Eagles. Mt. San Jacinto will be a team to watch this season as the Eagles are talented, well coached and should be right in the mix at the top of the conference standings. We expect the Eagles to contend for a conference championship and be in the post season for the 2021-2022 season.
Cerro Coso (18-9, 8-8): The Coyotes continue to improve each season and the 2019-2020 season was not any different. Cerro Coso won 18 games and after losing their first game of the season, the Coyotes won 12 straight games. The Coyotes were able to win close games as Cerro Coso was 5-2 in games that were decided by 5 points or less. Cerro Coso missed the post season but were a competitive and respectable team in the 2019-2020 season after finishing tied for 5th place in the Inland Empire Athletic Conference.
Coming into the new season, the Coyotes will return one player back from their 18 win season from 2019-2020. The roster consists of a lot of freshman and two sophomores for the upcoming season. Leading the way for the upcoming season will be “6-6” Panola College transfer Josh Miller. The athletic wing averaged 12 points per contest at the junior college and will be a four year prospect after showing a strong ability to score the basketball in a lot of ways. “6-3” Devontae Lyles averaged 3.5 points in his freshman season and will bring athleticism and toughness to the backcourt. The Coyotes have a lot of freshmen that will look to contribute this upcoming season as the team has a lot of athleticism. “6-5″ Zarius Benson-Moore (Canyon Springs, NV),”6-5” Adam Claybourne (Longwood, IL), “5-11” Daron Hall (Glenbard East, IL), “6-6” Jhadon Banks (Canyon Springs, NV), and “6-1” Kyren Gardner (Oak Park, IL) will be freshman that will be looked upon to provide minutes to the Coyotes. The upcoming season, Cerro Coso looks to have some solid pieces and will look to have an improved team. We believe that Cerro Coso has a solid chance to be really competitive and finish in the upper half of the Inland Empire Athletic Conference.
Chaffey (23-6, 16-0): The Panthers had a solid regular season in 2019-2020 as Chaffey College won 23 games. In conference the Panthers went undefeated in conference action and earned a 13th seed in the post season. Chaffey went on to face Irvine Valley in the first round but the Panthers were knocked off by Irvine Valley and it was a disappointing end to a great regular season for Chaffey.
The Panthers will look to rebound from a disappointing post season for the upcoming season. Chaffey returns four players from that squad that went undefeated in conference action. “5-9” Kristian Kurl (4.0 points), “6-1” Ismael Arellano (2.6 points), “6-3” Jared Barnes and “6-1” Eric Milner (4.7 points) will provide sophomore experience and could take on bigger roles for the Panthers. “6-4” Chijindu Egeonu will be another sophomore coming into the program as slasher averaged 4.3 points at Santa Monica City College in the 2018-2019 season. Clayton State transfer “6-6” Ronald Elloie will be another sophomore that will be expected to provide scoring for the Panthers. “5-9” Isaiah Barcelo (Los Altos HS) will be a freshman that will come in and see minutes. “6-2” Jozelle Carter (Colony HS), “6-1” Michael Henry (La Sierra HS), and “6-2” Kyle Smith (Montclair HS) will be other freshmen that could contribute this upcoming season. Looking at Chaffey, you can never under estimate the size of their back court. Coach Jeff Klein is one of the best coaches in the state and will have the Panthers ready. With that being said we expect them to finish in the upper half of the conference but we feel that Chaffey may slide a little bit down in the standings in the 2021-2022 season.
Copper Mountain (14-14, 8-8): The Fighting Cacti will look to have an improved season after finishing the season with 14 wins. Copper Mountain was another team within the conference that was competitive. The Fighting Cacti were 3-8 in games that were decided by 5 points or less. Copper Mountain will look to improve that stat as they finished an even .500 in conference which led them to a tie for 5th place but the school missed the post season in the 2019-2020 season.
The Fighting Cacti will be a team that we could make some noise this upcoming season. Copper Mountain returns two players from their 2019-2020 season. “6-2” Tyler Hudson returns for his sophomore season after averaging 11.0 points and 4.2 assists in his first season. “5-10” Travion Jackson will also return and add some back court depth to the Fighting Cacti. Jackson averaged 5.3 points in his first season. Copper Mountain has added some sophomore experience to the table and leading the list of newcomers is “6-6” Mikah Blackwell. The forward will be one of the best players in the conference and is a solid four year prospect. “6-8” Jamal Frank (Enterprise State in 20-20) will add size and “5-9” Cris Dominguez is coming in from Pierce College (Washington) and will provide more depth in the back court. “6-4” Jaylan Bradberry (West Carteret HS), “6-5” Nathan Kennedy, “6-6” Israel Goldsmith (29 Palms HS) and Lydell Boyd (Ontario HS) will all be freshmen that will look to contribute this season. Copper Mountain played .500 basketball a season ago, but were in a lot of games. This season, we feel the Fighting Cacti are the dark horse of the conference and have a chance to make a run at the top of the conference. Copper Mountain has some solid pieces and it would not surprise us if the Fighting Cacti made a post season appearance in the 2021-2022 upcoming season.
Victor Valley (12-16, 9-7): The Rams struggled in non conference action as Victor Valley was 3-9 coming into Inland Empire Athletic Conference action. As conference action heated up, the Rams picked up 9 wins and finished in 4th place. The Rams had some solid wins in conference and were a competitive bunch but missed the post season in the 2019-2020.
The Rams come into the new season looking to have a competitive season after finishing fourth place in conference in the 2019-2020 season. Victor Valley will be led by new head coach Prentice Harris as the former Chaffey assistant coach takes over the Rams program. Coach Harris will have one player that returns from the 2019-2020 season. “6-0” Alijah Gonsalves will be the lone returner for the Rams as the guard averaged 4.4 points in his freshman campaign. Two other sophomores will provide experience and be expected to contribute for the upcoming season. “6-3” Tyler Baskett will be looked to be a go to guy this season and the guard will look to have a standout season for the Rams. “6-8” Kany Rey a transfer from Southeastern Community College with bring depth to the forward position and add some size to Victor Valley. “6-6” Nigerrel Tubbs (Oak Hills HS) will be a freshman to watch this season for the Rams as the versatile guard will have an impact for Victor Valley. “6-3” Blake Goodrow (Hesperia HS), “6-6” Daniel Ogunbona (Capital City Academy London, UK), “6-5” Darvion Manning (Carter HS), and “6-8” Terrin Ross (Apple Valley HS) will all be freshman that will look to contribute in their first season for the Rams. Victor Valley will be an unexperienced team to start the year with a lot of newcomers. The Rams will play a difficult schedule but will look to stay competitive. We expect the Rams to be a competitive team and finish in the middle of the pack for the upcoming 2021-2022 season.
College of the Desert (16-12, 8-8): The Roadrunners were another competitive team within the conference that finished above .500. Desert won 16 games in 2019-2020 and finished in a three way tie for 5th place in the conference. Desert missed the post season but had a solid season and will look to have a solid upcoming season.
Desert will look to stay on course and have another solid season despite missing the post season. Robert Romero takes over the head coaching duties and will have two players returning from their 16 win season. All conference point guard “5-9” Devlin Adams returns for his sophomore season. The guard averaged 14.3 points and 5.9 assists in his freshman campaign and will be relied on heavy this upcoming season. “6-1” Marquis McKinzey returns as well after seeing limited action as a freshman and is expected to have a bigger role. D’Shaun Barrett is coming in from Copper Mountain College where as a freshman he averaged 10 points per contest. “6-6” Tommy Mooney is back after a redshirt season and is expected to contribute. “6-4” Koby Alvaraz (Rancho Mirage HS), “6-7” Garrett Hayden (Palm Desert HS), “6-1” Joziaha Winfrey (Desert Hot Springs HS) and “6-4” Trevon Batts (Chaparral HS) will be freshman expecting to be in the rotation for the 2021-2022 season. Desert looks to be a team that will be competitive but we expect the Roadrunners to finish in the bottom half of the standings in the Inland Empire Conference.
Barstow (2-26, 0-16): The Vikings struggled all season long and finished the Inland Empire Athletic Conference winless. Barstow won two games in the 2019-2020 season and will look to have an improved 2021-2022 upcoming year.
The Vikings will look to have an improved season but Barstow returns two players back from their 2019-2020 season. “6-4” leading scorer from 2019-2020 Christian Taylor returns to Barstow after averaging 17.3 points and 7.3 rebounds in his first season. Taylor will be looked upon to provide scoring and another solid season for the Vikings. “6-2” Evander Burns returns to the Vikings after he averaged 12.6 points per game and the sophomore will look to have a solid 2nd season for the Vikings. “6-3” Taylor Burns, “6-3” Dylan Donnelly, “5-9” Mateo Solari Fernandez and will all be sophomores and will add experience. “6-3” Rashawn Burrell Bonam (Hesperia HS), Peter Halasz (Miskolc, Hungary), “5-9” Ajzahn Kea (Chapin HS), and “6-2” Johannes Pupping (Orange Glen HS) will be freshman looking to find their niche this upcoming season. The Vikings will lack size this upcoming season which could hurt them from being competitive in the upper half of the conference. Barstow will look to improve but we expect the Vikings to finish in the lower half of the conference for the upcoming 2021-2022 season.
Palo Verde (3-25, 2-14): The Pirates will look to have an improved upcoming season after Palo Verde won 3 games in the 2019-2020 season. Palo Verde finished towards the bottom of the standings and missed the post season.
The Pirates will look to have a better season after posting 3 wins in the 2019-2020 season. Palo Verde returns a lot of pieces from that team as five players return back for their sophomore year. “6-5” Daijohn Stewart will be a solid player for the Pirates as the sophomore returns after leading Palo Verde in scoring in his freshman season. Stewart averaged 17.3 points and 5.5 rebounds in his first season. “6-0” Larry Hemingway returns to the team after averaging 16.4 points and 5.3 assists in his freshman season. The duo combined for almost 34 points between the two and should be a good 1-2 punch for the upcoming season. “6-6” Dennis Cross (8.1 points and 5.3 rebounds), “6-4” Waylon Anderson (8.7 points) and “6-4” Jeremy Ward (3.7 points) will all look to contribute in their second season for the Pirates. “6-5″Karl Wright (Lanphier HS) will be a freshman to watch this season for Palo Verde. Wright will add athleticism to the team as the Pirates look to have an improved season. Palo Verde returns a lot of scoring from the 2019-2020 and experience and that should translate into more victories. We expect the Pirates to be more competitive and will finish with more wins than they had in 2019-2020.