Elite basketball school sets up shop in La Jolla
By Phil Dailey
La Jolla has never been known for producing elite college basketball players, but that may be about to change.
San Diego native Gary Trousdale, who spent the past four years running the nationally ranked basketball program at Westwind Prep Academy in Phoenix, said Thursday he has set up shop in La Jolla with a basketball-only school that will be known as the La Jolla Prep Waves.
Trousdale led Westwind, a charter school, to back-to-back top 10 national rankings the past two seasons and has produced 33 college players during the past three years. Twenty of those athletes have gone on to play at the Division I level, includng San Diego State’s Jamall Franklin and University of San Diego's Patrick McCollum.
The new La Jolla program will have two teams just like the one in Phoenix, Trousdale said. One will be comprised of high schoolers and compete nationally; the other is a post-graduate team that will also compete nationally with other post-high school academies.
“We will travel across the country and play other top programs,” Trousdale said.
Trousdale will head up the program as well as coach the high school team, which will not compete with other CIF schools; rather, the Waves will play other national high school powers such as Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) and Findlay College Prep (Henderson, Nev.).
The new basketball academy will also have a post-graduate program for athletes who have already graduated from high school but are looking to improve their college stock.
The academy is in the process of securing houses in La Jolla where the student-athletes will live. It will be under adult supervision and be run “like a college program,” according to Trousdale.
“We have two (homes) that we’re looking at,” Trousdale said. “The way we run that is we have student-athletes living two to a room. We have adults who live in the house. We run it with very strict discipline.”
Trousdale expects to have up to seven to nine athletes living in each house.
“Right now, the plan is to rent, but we are in talks with some of our investors to purchase the homes,” he added.
According to their website, “Our daily schedule, individual workouts, academic study table and time management is structured exactly like a high major program. When student-athletes leave La Jolla Prep they are prepared to succeed at the highest level.”
Trousdale said, “We will not accept a student-athlete that doesn’t buy into what we’re doing. Last year, I sent seven kids home from Westwind that didn’t buy in — I sent kids home that were Division I athletes.”
Giving back to the community is also part of the plan for the Waves.
“We’re very big with community service,” Trousdale said. “In fact, we had kids volunteering their time five days a week, helping out with special education and physically handicapped kids. That will definitely be a priority for us in La Jolla.”
Tuition to attend the basketball academy is listed on the the team’s website (
) at $28,650 for high school and $27,875 for post-grad. There is also a $5,000 deposit that is non-refundable and tuition of $30,210 for international students. Should they choose a private school, the tuition is on top of their La Jolla prep expenses.
Student-athletes who play for the Waves will enroll in an area high school. For the post-grad students, they can work on college courses — up to nine per NCAA rules — while attending La Jolla Prep.
Trousdale said the Waves will be affiliated with two specific school in La Jolla or San Diego, although he said Friday he was not ready to announce the specifics.
A spokesman for La Jolla Country Day School said Thursday two students recently toured the campus. Christopher Lavin said the students told Country Day officials they were part of a basketball program coming to California and were looking for a school to attend their senior years.
They have not returned or submitted applications, Lavin added.
Officials at The Bishop’s School said they had not heard of La Jolla Prep as did La Jolla High School Principal Dana Shelburne.
Should students want to enroll at LJHS, he added, they would be required to have legal documentation saying their parents had given the person they are living with “educational purview.”
La Jolla High basketball coach Kamal Assaf said he heard about the elite basketball program coming to La Jolla and is excited to see them and possibly learn from the coaches.
“It’s never been done in San Diego, let alone in La Jolla,” Assaf said about the program.
Trousdale said he expects the teams to play as many as 35 games, 15 or so of which will be held in La Jolla. They have yet to announce where the team will practice and play, but Trousdale said it would be in La Jolla.
“That was my first target when I decided to be in San Diego,” Trousdale said.
Coaching the post-graduate team is Bobby Bossman, a former Division I basketball player at Loyola of Maryland.
Bossman was teaching at Westwind last year as well as coaching the post-graduate team. Prior to joining Trousdale, Bossman was a graduate assistant and video coordinator at Cleveland State University where he received his masters degree in curriculum and instruction-literacy development in 2009.
Trousdale, who is a graduate of Kearny High and Point Loma Nazarene University, said he decided to move back to San Diego because his father was recently diagnosed with ALS, a motor neuron disease more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
He has been coaching for more than 25 years with stints at the University of San Francisco, the University of Tulsa, the University of Portland and San Francisco State University.
There is some debate over whether or not Trousdale will bring any of his players with him from Westwind.
According to the Arizona Republic, Arizona’s Small School Player of the Year, Demarquise Johnson, was featured on the La Jolla Waves’ website. The website also has a link to Chris Thomas, who according to the Phoenix paper, has left Westwind. Thomas (6-foot-5) is ranked as the No. 3 point guard in the nation for the class of 2013.
Trousdale said no players on Westwind’s 2A state championship team from the past season will be joining him in La Jolla.
Trousdale confirmed that Thomas recently withdrew from Westwind and, though he was listed on that team’s roster at maxpreps.com, he never played in a game.
“There was some misunderstanding that those kids were coming to La Jolla,” Trousdale said. “In fact they weren’t.
“Chris Thomas is not going back to Westwind and is definitely a possibility of someone that we would love to have at La Jolla Prep and we are pursuing him to transfer to La Jolla Prep,” Trousdale added. “Anyone else that was at Westwind last year will not be transferring to La Jolla Prep.”
In regard to the photos that were on the website, they are no longer there, according to Trousdale.
Trousdale also wanted to be clear that he’s not going to lure players from surrounding high schools to play for him.
“The biggest thing is to let all the high school coaches in (San Diego) know that we’re here to help — we’re not going to recruit their players.”
The team is expected to start practicing in August and a final roster should be released by Sept. 1.
The high school team’s first competition is expected to be Oct. 6 at a tournament in Texas.