RENO — Paso Robles local 9th-grade AAU basketball team, the West Coast Rebels, have repeated as champions of the “Jam On It” Reno Memorial Day Tournament. The Reno Memorial Day Tournament boasts itself as one of the biggest basketball tournaments in the world and featured more than 1,300 teams this year.
The tournament divides teams up into divisions based on size and skill. The Paso Robles team competed in the silver division which is just below the highest level, gold.
The team is made up of 10 players: Chris Harris, Jake Roberts, Chris Saucedo, Cooper Johnson, Aden Roddick, Devin Perez, Payton Ramos, Bobby Conover, Quinton Pressley and Jacob Lambeth, all of whom are currently Bearcats. The team has been playing together for four straight years, begging a few weeks after basketball season and playing into the summer.
The Rebels are very different from most dominate AAU basketball teams. Often times the summer tournaments are filled with players trying to put up huge numbers so they can impress the college scouts in attendance. Statistics tend to be everything in AAU as kids that are hoping to be the next Steph Curry and James Harden put together games with 15 plus attempts from three and would be happier with an AND-1style crossover going viral than they would with winning the game. However, the Rebels don’t keep any statistics.
“It’s always been our philosophy since fourth grade to stay away from the stats,” head coach Rey Perez said. “It is all about what am I doing to make my team better and not how can I pad my stats.”
The team has focused more on the love of the game of basketball and using the vehicle of sports to teach lessons like accountability, leadership, and perseverance. When the team was formed most of the players were unpolished and struggled to make their youth and middle school basketball teams.
As the team has continued to age and improve, Perez has reached out to Bearcat Head Coach Derek Jasper to try and find ways to help the boys improve.
“I’ve been collaborating with Coach Jasper, the varsity coach,” Perez said. “He has been doing a bunch of training and helping us out and, man, you can see the difference. With these guys getting that one-on-one training with him and that intensified high school training, it has been incredible.”