Wood is ‘glue’ for Cabrillo
By Steve Yingling
Tribune sports editor
Winning has remained a common theme for Jared Wood two years after leading South Tahoe High to its last postseason basketball berth.
Wood, a sophomore at Cabrillo College in Aptos, Calif., has been a key component in the Seahawks’ back-to-back Coast Conference Championships.
Cabrillo secured at least a share of the conference title last Wednesday with a 75-42 trouncing of Hartnell College. The win was the Seahawks’ 20th of the season – something that hasn’t happened at Cabrillo in two and a half decades, according to coach Tony Marcopulos.
“If we don’t screw it up, we’ve won back-to-back championships, and Jared has played a significant role in both of those,” Marcopulos said.
Last year’s co-conference championship was Cabrillo’s first since the school was built in 1959.
The 6-foot-5 Wood came to Cabrillo after being selected to the Northern Nevada 4A All-Region team following his senior year at South Tahoe. Since then, Marcopulos has recognized rebounding and composure as Wood’s biggest improvements.
“He’s getting eight or nine rebounds in a game, and if you would have told me he’d do that when we recruited him, I would have told you that you need to be institutionalized,” Marcopulos said. “He’s learned how to position himself, create space for himself and he has good hands and timing.”
Marcopulos has also seen Wood grow up on the court and handle adversity better.
“Jared is a great person in a lot of ways,” Marcopulos said. “It’s funny how as you get older that what you like about somebody is also what you dislike about them. Jared is a perfectionist, and that’s also one of his biggest weaknesses. He’s his own worst critic. That’s one of the biggest things he’s learned, not to be so hard on himself.”
The toll of playing from September to February wore on Wood last year, his coach said.
“He’s played consistently well this year,” Marcopulos said. “Last year, he ran out of gas around conference, which is pretty typical for freshmen. We practice 140 times a year, and that’s considerably more than the high school level.”
Wood has been averaging 9-10 points per game in conference play with a season high of 32 points. He, however, has struggled with his three-point shot, making 30 percent of his attempts.
“That’s not nearly good enough if he wants to get people’s attention,” said the eighth-year Cabrillo coach. “When you’re recruiting someone, you don’t want to hear that he has the ability to (shoot).
“He’s not a great three-point shooter, not a great defender, not a great athlete, not great at bouncing the ball to the basket. He doesn’t look like somebody you need to pay much attention to. He’s kind of the glue that holds us together. He’s an anomaly that way. What you see isn’t what you get.”
Even though Wood has struggled behind the arc, his coach believes there is a spot somewhere for him on a NCAA Division II campus.
“Without a doubt, he has a chance to play,” Marcopulos said. “There are a ton of Division II schools who have shown interest in him. It will help his recruitment if we can go a little deeper in the playoffs, and if we can get to the state championships in Stockton.”
Marcopulos doesn’t believe Wood could play at a Division I school because he’s doesn’t have the size or strength to play power forward and lacks the quickness to play small forward.
“He’s a tweener for that level. If he goes anywhere, he will play the three (small forward) at the Division II level,” Marcopulos said. “He certainly helps himself with his academic record and the person he is.”
Derek Allister, Wood’s former coach at STHS, disagrees to some extent.
“There are some smaller Division I schools he could play for in the Southland Conference. I’ll be calling for him,” said Allister, who coached at Stephen F. Austin before coming to South Tahoe. “He definitely has a future, and I hope he pursues it. You can only do it once.”
The Seahawks (20-8 overall, 9-1 in conference) will play the only team that can catch them – Monterey Peninsula (7-3) – on Wednesday night in Monterey, then conclude their Coast Conference schedule Saturday night at home against West Valley (5-4). An outright conference championship will likely put the Seahawks in position to host a NorCal state tournament first-round game next week and give them a decent chance of advancing to the state’s final eight March 14-16 in Stockton.
“Cabrillo hasn’t hosted a first-round home game in 20 to 25 years,” Marcopulos said. “If you have to win two games (to get to Stockton) and one of them is at home, you have a pretty good shot. If we shoot the ball well and play well, we’re pretty tough to beat.”
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