ST. MONICA — In his first full summer as head coach at St. Monica, Khi-Min Jung has decided to open the doors to his gym to the Westside boys’ basketball world.
He announced Tuesday that the Mariners will play host to the first annual Westside Summer Slam from July 28-31. The tournament will include 12 varsity squads from around the area, but the slate of teams has yet to be finalized. There will also be a number of junior varsity and freshman teams included, but in separate divisions.
For Jung, he sees it as an opportunity to help put his team on the map and to get a read on where the Mariners are at after losing 10 seniors from last year’s squad.
“We’re doing good,” he said of the progress. “They look fine, but we’re really young. We’ve been taking our lumps this summer.”
The Mariners have played in a tournament at UC San Diego and are currently involved in a summer league based at Palisades High School. But, all the summer activity comes to an end on Aug. 1, when the dead period begins, prohibiting teams from conducting basketball activities. While there is no court time allowed, teams can focus on conditioning.
He considers it a building process, one that he began last year during his first year patrolling the sidelines.
The Mariners made a good showing of the coach’s first season, reaching the quarter-finals of the CIF-Southern Section Division 5AA playoffs before losing to Mission Prep, 46-44, in a close contest.
Fortunately for Jung, he returns All-CIF-SS performer Troy Whiteto, a player he’ll lean on to lead an inexperienced bunch that will include players from last year’s JV and frosh teams.
Whiteto’s strong play last season has helped the forward draw interest from a number of NCAA Division 1 teams, Jung said. So far, CSU Bakersfield, UC Santa Barbara and Western Illinois have come calling.
Jung expects more interest in Whiteto as the season approaches.
“He really has played with a lot of poise,” Jung said.