By Ally Perry

LW vs. West Valley

Latrell Wilson

College: Cabrillo/Concordia

Class of 2013

Shooting Guard/Point Guard

Since graduating in 2013, former AHS shooting guard Latrell Wilson has had a lot of transitions to make. After AHS, Wilson attended Cabrillo to play for the Seahawks for 2 years, and recently he made the move up North to Concordia University in Portland, Oregon.

“The transition from Cabrillo to Concordia has been relatively smooth. Cabrillo prepared me very well for the next level both in terms of athletics and academics.”

Despite devoting a lot of his time to his team, Wilson keeps up on his academics and graduated from Cabrillo with high honors and a degree in Communication Studies. At Concordia, Wilson plans to Major in Business Administration with a minor in Sports Management, and has a solid plan for his future.

“I want to play basketball professionally overseas after I graduate from Concordia, and then become an athletic director or something involved with a sports management position after my playing days are over.”

There’s a lot to miss about basketball at AHS, it’s hard to replace the camaraderie with the people that you’ve played with for the majority of your life.

“One thing I miss about high school are the fans at Arcata high school. There was nothing like playing in front of a packed gym with the best fans in the county.”

Since his Freshman year at Cabrillo, Wilson has displayed unyielding improvement and dedication.

“I’ve had very good experiences with college basketball so far. We’ve only had one game at Concordia, but in our season opener I started and had a game-high of 22 points. I’ve spent a lot of time improving all aspects of my basketball game and I feel very confident going into this season.”

Wilson’s most memorable moment was one game where he scored a season high of 29 points, eight of which were 3 pointers giving Cabrillo an 11 point lead. A reporter from the Appeal Democrat likened his playing to Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry.

Wilson certainly doesn’t take his education for granted, and hopes the same for high school athletes.

“My biggest advice is to take academics very seriously, especially if you are getting your school paid for with a scholarship. My Cabrillo coach would always tell us, ‘Your availability is just as important as your ability. You can’t help a team if you are unable to play because of grades or an injury.’ “

SophieNorthern1 (1)Sophie Northern

College: HSU

Class of 2015

Shooting Guard/Point Guard

For Sophie Northern, the transition from high school to college has been a smooth one, and staying local by going to HSU is a big part of if. Northern, a former AHS and Fortuna shooting guard, has already expanded her basketball abilities in college. Northern is playing more in the point guard position and loving every minute at HSU.

“HSU basketball is the absolute greatest experience I have had to date. The coaches are amazing and my teammates are incredibly supportive, but also competitive. Their competitiveness drives me to get better and pushes me outside of my comfort zone.”

There’s a lot about college basketball that could be out of an average high school players comfort zone, but Northern makes the adjustment look effortless. Though she’s no longer the oldest and most experienced on the team, Northern still manages to display her talents on the court.

“My most memorable moment so far was when I got to play in my first game and I took a 3-point shot that was ridiculously long and drained it. It was a super big confidence booster and I could hear my team screaming for me and I knew right then that choosing HSU was the smartest decision of my life.”

HSU is a perfect fit for Northern, but playing basketball in college takes a lot more focus and discipline in all areas of study, and Northern has some advice for potential college athletes.

“Keep up on your school work. Playing a sport in college takes up a lot of time and it is important you learn the skills to stay ahead.”

Despite the hard work that college basketball demands Northern has made great friends and memories on and off the court.However, along with the fun moments comes the hard work and determination that got high school athletes, like Northern, to schools like HSU in the first place.

“Expectations skyrocket in college. In high school, we could make it by with not being fully engaged and still be able to play. Now, since everyone is just as good as the next, no focus means no playtime. Coaches expect 100% and nothing less.

FullSizeRenderWill Taylor, College: HSU, Class of 2013, Point Guard/Forward

Not surprisingly, former AHS point guard Will Taylor describes Humboldt State University  as an accepting place, and a great place to pursue his major of Biology, though he still maintains that Condit was the best Bio teacher he’s ever had. The fact that HSU is in his home town is just a bonus.

Since Graduating in 2013, Taylor has been enjoying his time playing for the HSU Lumberjacks, adjusting to the transition from high school to college basketball.

“It’s a lot more intense, you have to be ready to practice extremely hard and maintain focus over the entire practice time every single day. A lot more is expected of you.”

Between adjusting to the changes of college basketball and adjusting to college itself, Lumberjack practices are no easy feat, but the hard work seems to be paying off.

“I’ve had a great experience with HSU basketball so far. I’ve learned a lot and know I’ve improved a lot as a basketball player.”

As an athlete growing up in Arcata, nowhere is our tight knit community more evident than on the basketball court. The people Taylor grew up playing sports with are people who have become lifelong friends.

“I miss the people I played with and the camaraderie. It was special playing with friends you’ve known since you were little, all just trying to win. I also miss playing in front of the AHS sixth men and the Arcata crowd.”

However playing at the collegiate level has afforded Taylor some exciting opportunities.

“One of my best memories I’ve had is playing Chico State at home in front a sold out crowd. That’s a big rivalry for us and playing in that type of atmosphere was really cool.”

Playing college basketball takes a lot of hard work and focus, two things that Taylor is familiar wwith.

“My advice to high school athletes would be to not sell yourself short in the classroom. Allow yourself to have the opportunity to play anywhere by getting good grades and being a good role model on campus. Establishing good study habits now will be really beneficial later because the amount of schoolwork in college is really intense compared to high school.”

unnamedLauren McCoy

College: Westmont

Class of 2014

Position: Forward/Post 

Between playing basketball for Westmont College, and majoring in Political Science, former Arcata High center Lauren McCoy has a lot on her plate. Beside moving 9 ½ hours away from her home town,  McCoy has had to adjust to the intense speed of collegiate basketball.

“The biggest difference is definitely the speed of the game. Everything happens so much faster. People have a quicker release, they get up the court, and just go.”

According to McCoy, college basketball focuses a lot more on the mental aspect of the game.

“Sometimes it feels like we know our opponents plays better than they do! It’s pretty cool to be able to put together all the pieces of the puzzle beyond the physical aspects and being taught more of the mental side of the sport.”

Westmont has been a good fit for McCoy, she maintains that she has met a lot of caring people from her coaches to her professors, and it has been a great place to improve her basketball prowess.

“It has been a challenge, but in the best way. I had a really great freshman year with basketball and school! I have also grown so much on the court, and off the court because of what I have experienced with the team.”

As a former ASB President McCoy has always strived for excellence in both athletics and academics.

  “I kind of knew I wanted to study political science even when I was in high school, and I have definitely found that to still be my passion. Right now I am considering law school after Westmont,”

McCoy has made plenty of memories at at Westmont, playing her familiar position of forward, but also expanding her skillset to play post.

“During our time at the National NAIA Tournament last year we won a game in triple overtime to go to the final four. It felt like the longest game, but was so incredibly exciting, and the when we finally won the emotions that were felt by everyone on the team were insane.”

Not surprisingly, college classes and practices are a lot of work, and they require McCoy’s full dedication and focus.

“Don’t take for granted your free time. You might think that you are busy and have a full schedule, but once you get into college athletics you need to be ready to devote yourself even more seriously to your sport.”