4 SRJC basketball players get scholarships to four-year schools

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Four Santa Rosa JC basketball players, including Sonoma County natives Kevin Aronis and Erik Hansen, signed letters of intent with four-year universities.

Aronis, who played for Analy, is going to New Mexico State in Las Cruces; and Hansen, a Rincon Valley Christian alum, signed with California Maritime Academy in Vallejo.
Sama Taku, who came to Santa Rosa from Tuscon, is going to play for University of Pacific, and La Verne’s Joardan Salley is headed to Sacramento State.

The Bear Cubs players got on the radar by being integral members of the team that won the Big Eight Conference title with a 14-1 record while going 26-6 overall. Early in the season, the team was voted No.1 in the state. That was a first for the school.

The 6-foot-3 Aronis made 99 3-point shots and that’s what caught the attention of New Mexico State coach Marvin Menzies. The Aggies, who played in the recent NCAA tournament after winning the Western Athletic Conference tournament, needed an outside shooting guard.

We had a weakness in the area of shooting the ball last year, so we tried to identify some guys that could help us in that area, along with doing some other things,” Menzies said.

Aronis was invited to visit the campus in mid-April and returned to Sebastopol impressed.

“I worked out and played pick-up games with some of the players, which was a lot of fun,” Aronis said. “Many of the buildings on campus looked new and the arena where we play is awesome.
“I’d had interest from other schools, but I made up my mind if New Mexico State wanted me, that’s where I was going to go.”

A week later, he received a full scholarship offer. He quickly faxed back the letter of intent. The Aggies play in the Pan American Center, where the seating capacity is 12,482.

Hansen, a 6-foot-5 power forward, pulled down 107 rebounds this past season. He picked the Maritime Academy because of its engineering school, as well as its basketball program.

Taku, Santa Rosa’s leading scorer at 18 per game, is following a former SRJC teammate to UOP. Lorenzo McCloud played for the Tigers this past season.

Taku was voted the Big Eight Conference Player of the Year and was also first team All-State.

Like Taku and Aronis, Salley is receiving a full scholarship. The 6-foot-6 center’s forte is blocking shots. He had 36 blocks last season, three times as many as any of his teammates.

Several more Bear Cubs are talking with universities and might sign soon, according to coach Craig McMillan.
McMillan is recognized nationally as an outstanding judge of talent. Many Division I coaches rely on his recommendations.

“Our first goal is to have our players get a junior college degree,” McMillan said. “As far as basketball, we give players a chance to develop and improve. If they progress to where they can play at the next level, we’ll help them find a school that’s a good fit.”
McMillan just completed his 12th season. Previously, he served stints as an assistant at Tennessee, Marquette and Arizona. He’s also coached pro teams in Kuwait and Lebanon.

As a high school player, he led Cloverdale to two state titles and then was a starting guard for the Arizona team that made it to the NCAA Final Four in 1988.