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March 26, 2013

Hutchings has 'it'

It may be as close to indefinable as quantum physics is explainable but any discernable fan knows when a player has 'it.' He is court royalty by reason of his light-footed performance involving mystical maneuvers with the ball. It's darting here for a shot or maneuvering there to deliver a pass, all seemingly effortless and untethered by common gravity. Meet Kiree Hutchings, the newest 'it' talent in Santa Cruz County.

The 5-foot-10 2012-13 First Team All Santa Cruz County Athletic League (SCCAL) honoree has just finished his sophomore season at Santa Cruz High and is now starting a second year with the West Valley Basketball Club. The chatter of and about him began in earnest this season so look for his name to pop up more and more as the spring and summer progress.

Here is Santa Cruz High Coach Patrick Jones talking about his young point: "Kiree is a great athlete and with long arms. He wants the ball in his hands and is a really good ballhandler. Kiree is a good three-point shooter and that came on in the playoffs."

For example:

- 24 points and five assists versus an 18-6 Aptos squad in the SCCAL tournament semifinals


- 15 points and 10 assists in a 49-48 victory over St. Ignatius (and Trevor Dunbar) in the Central Coast Section Division III semi-finals after Santa Cruz High had lost to SI 69-45 back in late December

- 13 points, five assists and four rebounds against Burlingame in a 54-51 loss in the CCS D-III final

Hutchings' coach with West Valley is former California great Al Grigsby. His take: "Kiree is a natural point guard who is a great kid, great student and is very coachable. What I like about him is he's not afraid to work at getting better. With his leadership and ability to guide his team, he has the potential to be very good."

A 2011-12 SCCAL Honorable Mention honoree while a freshman starter at Harbor High, the youngster made a splash by averaging 11.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists during his high school hoops entrance.

Santa Cruz High has a much more well-rounded team so Hutchings' numbers this go-around were 8.5 points, 4.1 boards and 2.9 assists an outing.

Asked what he perceives as his top skills, Hutchings offered "my driving ability and getting to the basket plus my dishing out the ball." On the flip side, he's working to "take better quality shots."

He feels being a backcourt leader is no burden. In fact, Hutchings thinks of it as an honor, selflessly offering: "I like to think my teammates think of me like that."

As for recruiting, it's as expected in the infancy stage but as Hutchings said about a destination, "It doesn't matter, I want to get a good education." He currently sports a 3.0 grade point average.

Basketball has been a family affair as his father, Norman, played in the backcourt for Santa Cruz High and legendary coach Pete Newell Jr. Hutchings counts his father as his biggest basketball influence.

But it wasn't all that serious a notion early on as Hutchings was playing with friends. Then, in the sixth grade, the roundball bug bit hard.

Now Hutchings is going to hit the circuit hard.


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