Salesian of Richmond boys hoops mentor is sixth from the S.F. East Bay to earn the honor from Cal-Hi Sports since 1997. Other coaches singled out for each CIF Division.
Going back to the legendary George Powles in the 1950s and Paul Harless in the 1960s at McClymonds of Oakland, the East Bay region of the CIF North Coast Section has continued to be blessed with some of the best boys basketball coaches anywhere.
The latest from the East Bay to be chosen as the State Coach of the Year is Bill Mellis from Salesian of Richmond. Mellis, in his 14th season with the Pride, guided this year’s team to a 33-2 record (on-the-court) and its second CIF Division IV state title in the last four years.
"I'm honored and it’s great to get recognition but what it really does is validate what we do as a staff," said Mellis on Wednesday when told of the honor. "Eddie Foster has been with me all 14 years and I have two former players on my staff.
"The effort they put into scouting, preparation, and drills in practice is tremendous, plus we had a group of guys that really bought into our system. That's when it really clicks."
It clicked best for Salesian when it went to the famed City of Palms tournament in Florida in December and in the CIF state finals.
In Florida, Salesian posted wins over Trinity (Louisville, Ky.), a team that eventually won the Kentucky Sweet 16 state title, and St. Raymond’s, one of the top teams in New York. The team’s only losses were to nationally ranked teams Montverde Academy and Ely, both of Florida.
With standout junior Jabari Bird scoring 23 points, the Pride came from behind to beat Price of Los Angeles 70-56 in the state championship. It was a much different type of contest than when Mellis’ team won its first title in 2008 on a buzzer-beating layup by Calvin Andrews.
Based on the strength of teams in the California’s Division IV bracket and the performance in Florida, Salesian finished No. 2 overall in the final state rankings and was No. 21 in the final POWERADE FAB 50.
The last East Bay coach to be accorded the overall state honor in boys basketball was Dwight Nathaniel of McClymonds in 2008. One of Mellis’ toughest coaching competitors from the same league, Don Lippi of Alameda St. Joseph Notre Dame, was the choice in 2004, while the others since 1997 on the list are Frank Allocco from De La Salle of Concord (2000), Clinton Williams from Fremont of Oakland (1999) and the late Frank La Porte of St. Joseph (1997).
Mellis has a more direct connection, however, to a different previous State Coach of the Year. He is a graduate of Santa Cruz High and played there for 2005 State Coach of the Year Pete Newell.
“He was very influential on me,” Mellis said. “I still talk to him.”
After going to Cal where he served as a student assistant and team manager under coach Lou Campanelli, Mellis started at Salesian as an assistant for five years under Bill Treseler.
Looking ahead to next season, with Bird and many others coming back, Salesian could be even better than No. 21 in the nation. The team’s coach, though, has already been taken care of.
Here is the complete slate of 2012 ESPNHS Cal-Hi Sports State Coaches of the Year for boys basketball (thanks to Harold Abend and Paul Muyskens for contributions to this post):
Tony Amundsen (Bullard, Fresno)
In just four years with the Knights, his teams have captured three league titles and two CIF Central Section crowns. This year’s team, which finished 31-4, also made a surprising run to the Division I Southern California championship game before losing to eventual state champion Mater Dei of Santa Ana. Among those that Bullard defeated were L.A. City champ Taft of Woodland Hills and nationally ranked Long Beach Poly.
Amundsen has been in coaching for 14 seasons. He started out for four years at Central of Fresno, then went to Fresno City College to be an assistant for three years before taking the job at Bullard. He has a record of 92-35 at Bullard with an overall coaching record of 157-85, according to the Fresno Bee.
A former player at Newark Memorial in the East Bay and also at Chabot College, Amundsen played at the Division I college level at the University of the Pacific.
Patrick Roy (Inglewood)
If there’s a constant in the CIF Southern Section playoffs every year, it’s that the Sentinels under Roy will always be peaking at the right time. The longtime leader of the program had his team doing that again this season and the result was a CIF Southern Section Division IIAA title. Roy, who has been at Inglewood since 1992, also is well-known around Southern California for being the high school coach of future Hall of Famer Paul Pierce. The team’s last CIFSS title came, in fact, when Roy had Pierce in 1994. This year’s team didn’t have a Pierce and only had a few players back at all from 2011, which made the job that Roy and his staff did look all the more impressive.
Tim Tucker (Pasadena)
Coach Tucker led the Bulldogs to their fifth CIF Southern Section championship in school history as they won this year’s Division 3AAA title. A member of the school’s section championship team in 1977 and 1978, Tucker later became just the fourth coach in school history, which he has been for 17 seasons. He has also been named as this year’s Southern Section Boys Basketball Coach of the Year by the California Coaches Association. Besides coaching the Bulldogs, he is also a member of the National Association of Basketball Coaches and has put together several charity camps and events. He played at Wyoming and Westmont College before starting as an assistant coach at L.A. Valley College.
Bill Mellis (Salesian, Richmond)
He also has been selected as the Cal-Hi Sports State Coach of the Year, including all divisions.
Jon Shaw (Village Christian, Sun Valley)
A broken foot might have slowed down Shaw in the playoffs, but his team put its foot on the gas and ended up winning the CIF state championship. Shaw’s Village Christian team, led mostly by sophomores, knocked off the defending champions from St. Joseph Notre Dame in the Division V state finals. It was the school's first ever CIF state title and first time reaching the finals and did it in Shaw’s second season. A native of Napa, Shaw graduated from Vintage of Napa and then Napa Valley College. He had previous coaching experience at Grace Academy (Marysville, Wash.), University of Oklahoma (grad assistant), Highland (Gilbert, Ariz.) and Cascade College in Oregon.
BOYS STATE COACHES OF THE YEAR
(Selected by Cal-Hi Sports)
2012 - Bill Mellis, Richmond Salesian (33-2)
2011 - Eric Cooper, La Verne Lutheran (27-5)
2010 - Dwan Hurt, Gardena Serra (34-2)
2009 - Steve Johnson, Rialto Eisenhower (31-4)
2008 - Dwight Nathaniel, Oakland McClymonds (32-0)
2007 - Harvey Kitani, Los Angeles Fairfax (28-5)
2006 - Peter Diepenbrock, Palo Alto (32-1)
2005 - Pete Newell, Santa Cruz (36-1)
2004 - Don Lippi, Alameda St. Joseph (28-6)
2003 - Zack Jones, San Diego Horizon (32-1)
2002 - Ed Azzam, Los Angeles Westchester (32-2)
2001 - Vance Walberg, Fresno Clovis West (31-3)
2000 - Frank Allocco, Concord De La Salle (31-1)
1999 - Clinton Williams, Oakland Fremont (28-4)
1998 - Jerry DeBusk, Rancho S.M. Santa Margarita (32-2)
1997 - Frank LaPorte, Alameda St. Joseph (31-4)
1996 - Russell Otis, Compton Dominguez (34-2)
1995 - Steve Filios, Mountain View St. Francis (27-8)
1994 - Hank Meyer, Carmichael Jesuit (31-7)
1993 - John Barrette, Palo Alto (31-0)
1992 - Tom Orlich, South Tahoe (30-1)
1991 - Tom McCluskey, Tustin (30-4)
1990 - Lou Cvijanovich, Oxnard Santa Clara (28-0)
1989 - Willie West, L.A. Crenshaw (25-2)
1988 - Reggie Morris, L.A. Manual Arts (27-3)
1987 - Gary McKnight, Santa Ana Mater Dei (31-1)
1986 - Mike Phelps, Oakland Bishop O'Dowd (31-5)
1985 - Stephen Keith, Glendale (28-0)
1984 - Ron Palmer, Long Beach Poly (31-2)
1983 - Jorge Calienes, Rosemead Bosco Tech (25-5)
1982 - Dick Acres, Carson (26-2)
1981 - Maury Halleck, Santa Barbara San Marcos (25-1)
1980 - Leo Allamanno, Oakland Fremont (24-2)
1979 - Dave Shigematsu, Oakland Castlemont (23-3)
1978 - Ben Tapscott, Oakland McClymonds (22-3)
1977 - George Terzian, Pasadena (29-3)
1976 - Bill Armstrong, Palm Springs (22-4)
1975 - John Mihaljevich, Palos Verdes (24-6)
1974 - Dan Risley, Elk Grove (30-0)
1973 - Tom Conway, Stockton Stagg (28-0)
1972 - Tom Cleary, Fresno San Joaquin Memorial (27-2)
1971 - George McQuarn, L.A. Verbum Dei (29-2)
1970 - Spike Hensley, Berkeley (32-0)
1969 - Gordon Nash, La Mesa Helix (29-2)
1968 - Ralph Krafve, East Bakersfield (29-0)
1967 - Frank LaPorte, Oakland Bishop O'Dowd (37-2)
1966 - Len Craven, Whittier Sierra (28-1)
1965 - Leo Allamanno, Oakland Fremont (21-2)
1964 - Bill Mulligan, Long Beach Poly (32-1)
1963 - Bill Armstrong, Compton (27-4)
1962 - Dick Edwards, Sacramento El Camino (23-1)
1961 - Paul Harless, Oakland McClymonds (19-1)
1960 - Bill Thayer, L.A. Fremont (17-1)
List continues back to 1920 in the ESPNHS Cal-Hi Sports State Record Book & Almanac.
Comments or corrections? Email Mark.Tennis@espn.com.