Coaching in the Valley is driving Bill Hughes crazy.
Hughes, 32, recently completed his first season as basketball coach at Pierce College. Before that, he coached Reseda High to back-to-back City 3-A championships. When not teaching health at Reseda, he is a dedicated gym rat.
But Hughes does have one flaw professionally. He drives himself too hard--and certainly too far.
For the last five school years, Hughes has commuted from his home in Cerritos to Reseda High each weekday morning. He leaves the house at 5 a.m., makes the 47-mile drive to the Valley and stops at a health spa to work out before going to his first class.
When his classes are finished, his day is still not, at least not from November to March. During the basketball season, his trek continues up the freeway to Pierce for 2 1/2 hours of practice. When that's over, he makes the 50-mile drive home, sometimes arriving as late as 9 p.m.
"The drive is a killer, but I love where I live," Hughes said. "It's my own fault that I have to drive so far, though that doesn't make it any easier to do everyday."
There are two solutions to his problem, of course: Move, or get another job. Hughes is looking into the latter.
"I'm checking into jobs both at the high school and college levels," Hughes said. "I'd like to work either closer to home, or as an assistant at the major college level."
There are at least two prep job openings in Orange County, one at Laguna Hills High and the other at Trabuco Hills in Irvine. There is also a possibility that Ocean View Coach Jim Harris will be forced to resign because of the use of two ineligible players last season. That would create another opening. Hughes says there are also two assistant coaches' spots open at West Coast colleges.
Certainly, Hughes has some impressive credentials. His Reseda teams were a combined 45-6 and won two City 3-A titles in the last two seasons before he went to Pierce.
At the time, Hughes considered the move to Pierce as a step up. Now he's not so sure.
"Pierce is a great school and it has a great basketball program, but junior colleges in general have a lot of problems," Hughes said. "It's not that the kids are bad, but it seems they want you to do everything for them. You have to be their mom and dad, their counselor, their psychologist and their coach. You're everything, and that's disenchanting."
Four of the 10 freshman Hughes recruited to play at Pierce last season quit the team in December during a span of three weeks. Three of the players had been on Hughes' Reseda team the year before. They attended the school as part of the Los Angeles Unified School District's busing program.
"That taught me a lesson about recruiting kids from Los Angeles to play JC ball in the Valley," Hughes said. "They're too undependable. They don't run buses to Pierce College."
The last chapter in the saga of College of the Canyons basketball player Karl Tompkins:
When we last left Tompkins, he was saying yes to practically every basketball coach who was recruiting him.
He had already signed a letter of intent with Cal State Bakersfield, but was still listening to an offer from Chapman College. Meanwhile, Cal State Northridge Coach Pete Cassidy was left trying to figure out how he had ended up somewhere south of College of Idaho on Tompkins' list of college choices.
The letter Tompkins signed for Bakersfield needed the signature of his parents, who live in Alaska. Last Wednesday morning, Tompkins put the letter in the mail.
It probably hadn't even left the post office when he changed his mind after a trip to the Chapman campus. He then signed with the Panthers, too.
Apparently, he's now sticking with Chapman. Tompkins could not be reached at home, but Canyons Coach Lee Smelser says the 6-8 230-pound athlete has finally made up his mind.
"He told me that he decided on Chapman and he's not going to waver on that decision," Smelser said. "The whole recruiting process had him good and confused for a while, but I think he has made a choice he's going to stick to. For a while, he was signing anything those coaches were putting in front of him."
Smelser said that Tompkins chose Chapman because of its small-college atmosphere.
"I actually thought Northridge would have been a good place for him," Smelser said. "Pete (Cassidy) recruited him hard and he seemed to fit into their program. Karl said the school was too big, though. He was afraid he'd get lost."
Cal State Northridge finally drew blood in the basketball recruiting wars, signing three players on Wednesday.
The Matadors received written commitments from Dirk Hare of Hart High and James Carr and Dan Mulder of Saddleback College.
Hare, who has a 3.8 grade-point average, was Hart's leading scorer and a first-team All-Foothill League selection. The 6-3, 175-pound athlete will probably play guard for Northridge.
Carr, a 6-6, 210-pound forward, was one of Saddleback's top reserves, averaging 3.4 points and 4.3 rebounds.
Mulder, a starter, averaged 8.9 points and 4.6 rebounds.