Hansen's Sunday Notebook: Salpointe's Orozco on the radar

Star sports columnist Greg Hansen offers his opinion on recent sports news of interest to Southern Arizonans.

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  • The Southern Arizona recruiting Class of 2015 isn’t among the deepest of the last decade, but last week in Long Beach, Calif., Salpointe Catholic pitcher Jio Orozco rose to the top of the list.

    Playing for the Cincinnati Reds team in the Area Code Games, which is probably the top competition for high school baseball players every summer, Orozco made the all-tournament team, the elite of the elite.

    What’s more, the Reds went 5-0, winning the championship under coach Clark Crist, a Cincinnati scout who was the starting shortstop on Arizona’s 1980 College World Series championship team.

    “Jio was just outstanding,” said Crist. “He had no command issues. It was impressive because every time he pitched, he looked into the bleachers and saw 200 scouts and college coaches pointing radar guns at him. It didn’t faze him.”

    Baseball America clocked Orozco, who was 8-1 at Salpointe last year, with a 93 mph fastball and calculated that he averaged 89 mph.

    “You have to be very good just to get in the Area Code Games,” said Crist, who had tryouts from 80 players for the 25 spots on his team. “I coached (Washington outfielder) Bryce Harper on the Reds team. It’s a high-intensity showcase, and the Tucson kids that made the team all did well, especially Jio and those two Sahuaro kids, Javier Medina and Cesar Salazar.”

    Orozco, who has committed to play for Andy Lopez at Arizona, is my choice as Tucson’s leading recruit in the Class of 2015.

    Runner-up: Chris Meyers, CDO, golf. Meyers last week was accepted academically to Stanford and will now choose between golf offers from the Cardinal, Arizona and TCU. Impressive. Name to keep in mind: Catalina Foothills sophomore Gavin Cohen, who has Pac-12 potential and should be a strong contender for a state championship the next three years.

    Top prospect Class of 2016: Tucson High volleyball player Mia Sokolowski, who has narrowed her college scholarship choices to Arizona and Texas.

    Sokolowski is 6 feet 4 inches and a franchise recruit. Some of her athletic genes come from her father, George Banks, a Marana High School grad who was an All-WAC forward at UTEP and played 14 seasons in the EuroLeague.

    Top prospect Class of 2017: How about Rio Rico distance runner Allie Schadler? Last year, she became the first freshman girl to win the state cross country championship since 2008. She also won the state title in the 1,600 and finished second in the 800 in the track championships in May.

    Top prospect Class of 2018: Salpointe Catholic freshman quarterback/receiver Jamarye Joiner, already 6 feet, 170 pounds, is the top skill position prospect in Tucson since ex-Lancer Cam Denson, and maybe since the 1990s. Joiner, whose uncle Tamoni Joiner was an All-State halfback at Amphi and an Oregon Ducks letterman, projects as a Pac-12 recruit. Runner-up: Salpointe girls golfer Haylin Harris, who has had 10 top-four finishes on the JGAA circuit this year, including victories in the Michael Thompson Invitational and the Mesa City Championship.

  • After two years as Arizona’s full-time pitching coach and another as Mike Candrea’s director of softball operations, Alicia Hollowell has decided to leave the Wildcats.

    “I just wanted to find something that’s a little bit more, in my eyes, normal,” Hollowell said Saturday. “I want to find something that gives me more time to pursue relationships, family and freedom.”

    Hollowell, 30, is one of the greatest pitchers in college softball history. She is the UA career leader in victories, 134, and strikeouts, 1,768. She led Arizona to the 2006 NCAA championship.

    “A lot of people would say this is a dream job, being at my alma mater and having so much respect for Mike Candrea,” she said. “So I thought very long and hard about leaving. The way I perceive coaching, you have to be all in, 24-7, to do it the right way, and that’s the way I did it at Arizona. I think I would like to pursue something more like 9 to 5. I’ve been in softball since I was 10½. I thought this would be a good time to make a change.”

    Hollowell, who is from Northern California, did not help Candrea recruit in the July evaluation period. The UA will make Stacy Iveson the full-time pitching coach.

    Iveson, a former All-Pac-12 catcher at Arizona and a Catalina High grad, has coached national championship teams at Pima College and Yavapai College.

    Hollowell helped to recruit pitcher Taylor McQuillin, a senior at Mission Viejo (Calif.) High School. McQuillin was named the 2014 national high school Player of the Year.

  • Kevin Brice was a standout baseball player at Salpointe Catholic, later helping Tucson’s KFC American Legion team to the state championship. This year, he hit .308 in his sophomore season at Pomona-Pitzer College but had the summer of his life in the New York Collegiate Baseball League. Brice was named the NYCBL Player of the Year last week, hitting an exact .400 for the Sherrill Silversmiths with 15 stolen bases. He also hit .385 in the playoffs.

  • David Korn, a former soccer standout at CDO, has been named co-head coach for the Southern Illinois-Edwardsville men’s team. Korn’s promotion caps a well-deserved rise through the soccer coaching ranks that includes stints at Tucson Soccer Academy, an assistant’s post at Salpointe Catholic and college assistant’s jobs at Lafayette, Denver and Wright State.

  • For the last 12 seasons, Lance LaVetter has been Lorenzo Romar’s director of operations for the Washington Huskies basketball team. LaVetter, who is the son of Pueblo’s 1977 and 1978 state championship basketball coach Roland LaVetter, last week decided to get back into coaching. He joined the staff at Seattle U., under Cameron Dollar. Before becoming UW’s operations director, LaVetter, a Rincon High grad, was an assistant coach at New Mexico State and Saint Louis.

  • Ironwood Ridge High School grad Alex McMahon, a UA senior who has taken his game to a higher level in the last year, won the 90th Arizona Amateur on Saturday in Scottsdale. Talk about well-deserved: He was the medalist among 120 golfers and then won six consecutive matches. McMahon became the ninth Tucsonan to win the state amateur. Here’s the list: Ed Updegraff, 1952, 1955, 1961, 1969; Charlie Lamb, 1946; Jeff Kern, 1977; Willie Kane, 1987; Dan Meyer, 1994; Ben Kern, 2004; Nathan Tyler, 2007; David McDaniel, 2009.

  • Sad news: Sabino High School grad Clint Clausen, a former football/basketball standout for the Sabercats, died last week of a heart attack. He was only 44. Clausen famously earned a scholarship as a walk-on basketball player for Jerry Tarkanian’s 1990 NCAA champions at UNLV. Talk about good genes: Clint’s grandfather Dick Clausen, was UA athletic director from 1959 to 1972 and was responsible for getting McKale Center built. Clint’s father, Monte Clausen, a U.S. Marshal, was a UA basketball letterman from 1959 to 1962. Clint’s brother, Darren Clausen, a Tucson attorney, was an all-star basketball player at Yavapai College and West Virginia Wesleyan. After leaving UNLV, Clint worked in the restaurant business at the Las Vegas MGM Grand and Caeser’s Palace and at the time of his death owned Four Daughters Kitchen in Manhattan Beach, California.

  • Austin Nehls, the Star’s 2013-14 Southern Arizona basketball Player of the Year, will begin his college career at a Connecticut Prep School this week.

  • Last week I listed Tucson prep coaches to have won seven or more state championships, matching or exceeding retiring Catalina Foothills soccer coach Charlie Kendrick. I goofed and did not include ex-Foothills swimming coach R.J.   Lundstrom, who won seven state titles.

  • Rayvean Moore, who was a standout receiver at Tucson High School in 2011, chose to walk on without a scholarship at New Mexico State. After redshirting in 2012 and playing in nine games in 2013, the sophomore was awarded a full scholarship after the Aggies’ practice last Sunday. At 5-10, 168 pounds, Moore has played his way into NMSU’s regular rotation. Well done.

  • When UA volleyball coach Dave Rubio started fall training camp this month, he began coaching freshman Jade Turner of Bakersfield, California. She is the daughter of 1988 Arizona Final Four center Joe Turner. That makes three daughters of the Wildcats’ ’88 team now playing Pac-12 volleyball: Steve Kerr’s daughter, Maddy, is a starter at Cal, and Jud Buechler’s older daughter, Reily, is a top freshman recruit at UCLA.

  • Palo Verde High grad Bryce Cotton last week told me he signed as a free agent with the San Antonio Spurs and will report to training camp in Texas in late September.

    Since being an All-Big East guard at Providence last season, Cotton has gotten married and returned to Tucson. Talk about a good story: On his first day at Providence, Cotton met Simone Tubman in a sociology class. They were married on July 27. He graduated in four years from Providence with a 3.1 GPA in sociology.

  • From 1996-98, UA football special teams player Derek Hall won the school’s “Ball Hawk” award for spirited play in practice. He went from walk-on to three-year letterman. Hall then become an assistant coach at Eastern Michigan and Delaware State and then, using his UA degree in theatre arts, got into the movie business, on directing crews for such movies as “The Best of Me” and “Pitch Perfect 2.” But five months ago, Hall was diagnosed with cancer of the kidney and is now awaiting a kidney transplant, among other health issues.

    Hall has been hospitalized in Chicago and New Orleans. He is only 37.

  • UA swimming coach Rick DeMont was selected to the Team USA coaching staff for the Pan Pacific Championships this week in Gold Coast, Australia.

    When he returns to Tucson, DeMont won’t have much free time. In addition to filling the gaps in 2013-14’s lost recruiting year, damaged by the in-season resignation of Eric Hansen, DeMont must help rebuild the four-time USA champion Ford Aquatics program, which is in disarray.

    Head coach Johno Fergusson was not retained after Ford Aquatics finished a distant eighth in this month’s national championships in California. The post-graduate program that used to be rich in Olympians and NCAA champions at Hillenbrand Aquatic Center has been greatly diminished since the departure of UA coach Frank Busch three years ago.

    Example: Darian Townsend, a former Wildcat national champion and 2004 Olympic gold medalist, recently left Ford Aquatics to train in Phoenix.

    DeMont is accompanied in Australia by UA senior national champion Kevin Cordes and UA volunteer coach Matt Grevers, a four-time Olympic gold medalist who has probably become the top men’s swimmer in America, replacing Michael Phelps.

    In the “good old days,” under Busch, the UA swimming program would have seven or eight swimmers, men’s and women’s, in an event like the Pan-Pacs.

    If you think Sean Miller had a difficult assignment replacing Lute Olson, DeMont is in a spot of even greater difficulty.

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