Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Meet Jared Ponce

Jared Ponce of UC Santa Cruz is one of triplets on the Banana Slugs (there's also Matthew and Tyler) so it's seems pre-ordained that the leading scorer on the team also be the top three-point distance shotmaker.

Averaging 12.3 points per contest, the 6-foot-2 junior buried just under two treys a night last season. In the coolness of January and February, Ponce went en fuego in a series of games that had him averaging 18.3 points a contest, including 29 against Pomona-Pitzer and 24 versus Occidental. He also totaled 19 points matched up with the Keelhaulers of Cal Maritime, always a tough defensive opponent.

So how did Ponce make it to the most beautiful campus on the west coast?

Back at Ayala High in Chino Hills (San Bernardino County), Ponce was a four-year starter and a two-year captain. He was also aces in the classroom, earning the Male Scholar Athlete award at Ayala as well as the Top Scholar Athlete in the San Gabriel Valley.

With interest from some members of the SCIAC (Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference), schools with a strong academic emphasis, Ponce visited UC Santa Cruz and that cemented his choice.

"I fell in love with the beach and the environment plus it was far enough away but not too far."

On their own, his brothers also selected to attend and play basketball at UCSC. "Each of us made an individual choice but being together pushes us to get better."

His selections of best basketball moments are "as a [high school] senior playing together with my brothers on the court" and "my first college basketball game because most kids don't move on and play."

Over the summer, the sociology major "hit the weightroom and put on the pounds" and he's looking forward to the fast approaching season as third-year Coach Ron DuBois has added 11 new players to the roster.

Now an upperclassmen, he worked at Open Gym Premier (whose vision is to be the hub of Orange County basketball) this past summer in training and coaching and "they are interested in me a lot." But he's hoping to remain in Santa Cruz with the goal of "giving back to kids."

But first comes two more seasons of hopefully lighting up the scoreboard at the Kaiser Permanente Arena in downtown Santa Cruz.

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