When the final buzzer sounded Feb. 14 in the Douglas High School boys basketball team’s 52-44 win over arch rival Carson, the Tigers began celebrating at mid-court as their student rooting section rushed on to the court.
And standing tall in the middle of all the excitement was a jubilant James Herrick.
“That was a picture-perfect moment right there,” Herrick recalled. “I feel blessed to have played in this community. We have the best student section in the North — they were there to support us at every game — so to be out on the court after a win like that was a big highlight.”
The 6-foot-10 Herrick celebrated another highlight in the high school gym Thursday afternoon during a celebration to recognize his decision to play basketball at California State University, Sacramento. Herrick signed his National Letter of Intent on Wednesday, the first day of the NCAA’s regular basketball signing period.
“I think this is a great decision for me and my family,” Herrick said. “I feel their program is a perfect fit for me, the location is perfect, I like the coaches and players, I like their system and how they focus on running things through the bigs. I just feel like that’s the place I want to be for the next four years.”
Brian Katz, who just completed his sixth season as head coach at Sacramento State, was obviously enthusiastic when he spoke to hornetsports.com after receiving the signed letter.
“James is a big, strong and powerful post player,” Katz said. “He has very good hands, and is a big man that can shoot and pass the ball. He has a tremendous amount of upside, and gives us a solid player at the 5-spot that will develop and get better.” Sacramento State compiled a 10-10 record during a 2013-14 season, with two of those losses coming against high-profile opponents. The Hornets lost 86-50 on Nov. 18, 2013 to then No. 22 ranked UCLA and 69-51 on Dec. 7 at UTEP.
“I love the way they travel,” Herrick said. “And I’m looking forward to the Big Sky. The competition is great, but I really think I can compete with those guys.”
While Herrick said he doesn’t expect to grow taller, he is focused on increasing his current weight of 240 pounds.
“I think that (6-10) is the perfect size for me,” Herrick said. “Now I can work on putting on more weight, which will help me bang with those big guys.”
Herrick went on to add how excited he is about his future.
“I definitely think the sky’s the limit for me,” he said. “I’ll be improving every day, which is exciting.”
Each of his three seasons as a varsity player at Douglas was a growing experience. The Tigers compiled a 52-28 overall record during that time, including back-to-back Sierra League championships (2012-13) and three straight state academic championships.
Herric earned first-team all-Sierra League and all-region honors as a senior this past season, averaging 11.1 points, 11.3 rebounds and 2.6 blocked shots while shooting 49 percent from the field. He had a dozen double-double performances (points and rebounds), and at least two blocked shots in all but three games (four in the win against Carson).
Was there one single highlight that stands out from those three seasons? Herrick pointed to the state tournament game he played as a sophomore in 2012 against Bishop Gorman. The Tigers lost, 73-40, to a team that featured four Division I signees, including Shabazz Muhammad, who played one season at UCLA and is now playing in the NBA for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Herrick was a presence in the game, as he scored six points on successive possessions, and challenged Muhhamad on a shot in the paint.
“Just being able to play against a team like Gorman and play at Lawlor,” Herrick said. “That’s something not a lot of people can say they’ve done.”
Herrick is quick to point out he has had an opportunity to be on the court with and against many high caliber players, including former teammate Hunter Myers, the two-time region player of the year now at Harvard.
“I learned a lot from Hunter and all the others I played with and against,” he said. “They all helped me get to this level where I am now.”