The high school basketball talent in the lower South Sound is drawing plenty of college interest this year — from one school in particular.
Two local seniors have already signed letters of intent to join the Tacoma Community College program next season, and two more have made verbal commitments.
“We are just starting to tap into it, and I want to get more,” TCC coach TJ Caughell said.
Timberline’s Tariq Romain is the latest local prospect to officially ink his commitment with TCC.
He signed Thursday afternoon at Timberline in front of a large group of coaches, teammates, family and friends.
Romain said TCC’s fast-paced style of play and winning culture is what drew him most to the school.
Romain, a 5-foot-9 guard, helped Timberline to a Class 3A state tournament appearance in March. He averaged 12 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals per game his final season.
“He is a high energy guy, which is huge for me,” Caughell said. “He has a high motor, he gets up and down the floor, he pushes the tempo and he defends.”
Romain joins River Ridge’s Jordan Skipper-Brown, who signed his letter of intent on April 1.
“Excited to see what the next (two) years hold,” Skipper-Brown announced on Twitter.
The 6-5 forward was named the 2A South Puget Sound League’s Sound Division MVP this season, after leading River Ridge with 14.2 points, 9.8 rebounds per game.
He was selected to The Olympian’s All-Area team in February.
Caughell said Skipper-Brown’s ability to finish above the rim and his shooting release are pluses, but his biggest draw is his desire to win.
Several times Caughell said he watched Skipper-Brown rally teammates late during tight games.
“I really think he’s just starting to scratch the surface,” Caughell said. “His upside is extremely high.”
Noah Brewer — who averaged 14.1 points, 8.5 rebounds per game for Black Hills this season — is verbally committed to play for the Titans.
Brewer is a 6-3 forward who became more prominent for the Wolves after leading scorer TJ Mickelson transferred to Capital. He was a first-team 2A Evergreen Conference selection.
“For his size, to be able to pass and move and have such a good feel for the game really drew my attention in,” Caughell said.
Yelm’s Joey Hawks, who averaged 13.9 points per game, has been offered a walk-on role. Ja’Vary Christmas from De La Salle North Catholic in Portland rounds out the class.
Five freshman from last season’s roster — Quintin Bethea (Auburn Riverside), Eskari Carter (South Medford, Oregon), William Moore (Cheyenne, Las Vegas), Dayton Pascua (Tacoma Baptist), Stephon Shaw (Foss) — are expected to return for their sophomore seasons.
TCC advanced to the Northwest Athletic Conference tournament championship game in Everett in March.
“They’re a winning program,” Romain said. “I’m hoping I can come in and help them out, and hopefully win it my first year.”
This is the first time during Caughell’s tenure that athletes from the lower South Sound have been on TCC’s roster.
“The way I’ve always envisioned this program when I took the job three years ago was we would have as many local guys as possible, and from the surrounding area,” Caughell said.
It appears this is just the beginning.
CRABILL SIGNS WITH PEPPERDINE
Capital distance runner Beau Crabill signed his letter of intent with Pepperdine University on Wednesday, athletic director Steve Bellande announced on Twitter.
Crabill finished eighth in the 1,600-meter un at the 3A track and field state championships as a sophomore, and 13th as a junior. He ran a personal-best time of four minutes, 22.39 seconds last April.
He took 66th at the 3A cross country state championships as a junior, finishing with a season-best time of 16:35.8.