**This is one of eight previews of the eight teams participating in the second annual Allstate Sugar Bowl National Prep Classic Basketball Tournament at the Alario Center in Westwego January 19-21.
When you combine a brilliant coach with a proud program that has vast potential, the result is likely to be a very good one.
That is the equation at St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower, California where the Braves are off to a 12-2 start in 2011-2012 under first-year coach Derrick Taylor.
While Taylor has just begun his tenure at St. John Bosco, he has a resume' that speaks volumes.
Taylor served as the head coach at Taft High in Woodland Hills, California for 11 years. His accomplishments were plentiful. Under Taylor, Taft won three Los Angeles City Section championships (2004, 2008, 2011) and finished as a Division 1 runner-up three times (2006, 2009, 2010). The Toreadors reached the Final Four six times and claimed 10 West Valley League championships.
Taylor won nearly 84 percent of his games at Taft (252-49) and nearly 95 percent of his league games (106-6). He earned numerous Coach of the Year honors.
The move by St. John Bosco to hire Taylor is working.
Taylor has his Braves off to an impressive 12-2 start, including 2-0 in league play this season.
St. John Bosco is led by junior guard Isaac Hamilton (6'5, 170), who is regarded as a blue-chip recruit, averages 24.9 points, 11.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game. Hamilton lists Arizona, St. John's and UNLV as primary schools of interest. He has offers from Arizona, Baylor, Colorado, Houston, Oklahoma State, San Diego State and TCU.
For St. John Bosco, two Hamiltons are better than one.
Sophomore Daniel Hamilton (6'6), the younger brother of Isaac, is averaging 18.6 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4 assists per game. Hamilton has grown seven inches in just over a year and is already attracting attention from college recruiters.
Basketball skill runs in the Hamilton family.
Jordan Hamilton, who played at Texas, is currently a rookie with the Denver Nuggets organization while Gary Hamilton, another brother, plays professionally in Japan. Jordan has split time between the Nuggets and the NBA Developmental League Idaho Stampede after being drafted by the Dallas Mavericks and packaged in a deal that ultimately sent him to Denver. Taylor is thrilled to have Isaac and Daniel.
"Both young men are awfully good players who are highly recruited," said Taylor. "Both have scoring ability and athletic ability. Both can pass the ball. Any time you get two high major recruits who can really play the game, it makes a big difference. I have had a lot of top players but Isaac can be as good as any I have ever had. I have 15 former players who are playing college basketball." Taylor coached NBA star Jordan Farmar of the New Jersey Nets previously.
The Braves have solid players in 6'5 senior forward Darryl Matthews, who averages 8.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, along with 6'2 sophomore guard Kameron Murrell, who averages 7.9 points per game.
St. John Bosco is one of eight teams, including four invaders from out-of-state, participating in the 2nd Annual Allstate Sugar Bowl National Prep Classic Basketball Tournament January 19-21 at the Alario Center in Westwego.
"I have not been to Louisiana before so I am looking forward to it," said Coach Taylor. "I am excited about bringing the team to play other teams from different states that you don't know. You get answers to questions with this type of tournament. It is a cool bonding experience for the kids as well. We are starting to put things together. We have new players and a new staff with new terminology and a new philosophy and techniques. At times, we looked like fragmented parts but we are getting better."
St. John Bosco won section championships in 1994 and 2003. Coach Taylor has the Braves on track to return to glory in 2012, ahead of schedule, with an assist to the Hamilton family.