People will tell you that Jerry Carrillo, the newly-appointed Chaminade University men’s basketball coach, is definitely one driven guy.
So, too, will a couple of the dusty, well-traveled Ford Tauruses he’s criss-crossed the Southwest in with an all-out, multi-state approach to recruiting.
To grasp what the 46-year old Carrillo brings to the Silverswords it helps to understand where he has been the past 16 seasons, Cochise Community College, and what he’s accomplished there.
The school is on the outskirts of tiny Douglas, Ariz., (population: 18,000), which is to say it is not much more than a length-of-the-court pass from the Mexican border and 116 miles from Tucson. Or, as Carrillo puts it, “When I drive somewhere, I see a lot more dirt and cactus than I’m going to see guys playing basketball.”
University of Hawaii assistant football coach Dick Tomey, who knows the area well from his days at the University of Arizona, puts it this way: “I can’t imagine a guy being at more of a disadvantage in recruiting than he was. From their location, the presence of the drug cartels in the area…”
Which is undoubtedly why the school had not had a winning basketball season in the 15 years preceeding Carrillo’s arrival from a nearby high school in 1995.
But Carrillo somehow managed to go 16-13 in his first campaign and averaged 22 victories a year thereafter in a 349-156 career.
“He’s done just a fabulous job for a long time,” said Tomey, who told the folks at Chaminade as much.
Carrillo did it with a good road map, tenacity and a lot of time behind the wheel. He hopped in the white cars with the big red “C” on the door the school uses and hit Denver (837 miles), Albuquerque (391) and El Paso (259) among other points in search of players.
“You can see a lot of players in Las Vegas (525 miles) or San Diego (528 miles),” Carrillo said. “Must have put 5,000-6,000 miles a year on that bad boy (vehicle) in the early years.”
In that, his teams have been like the man who recruited them, accelerator to the floor at every opportunity. The Runnin’ Apaches averaged 94 points a game in the just-completed 22-11 season, 13 times topping the 100-point mark. And that was a “down” year compared to some of his squads like the two that went to the National Junior College Athletic Association Sweet 16. Fourteen times in the last 15 years his teams have led the region in scoring. Eight times the Apaches appeared in the Arizona Community College championship game.
And, they haven’t done too badly in the classroom, either, as the nine-time NJCAA Academic Team of the year.
This month, he will help coach the U. S. Men’s Under-19 team in the World Championships and also work on recruiting.
Carrillo has heard how tough it can be to recruit to Hawaii but says he is looking forward to the challenge.
In going to the mainland, he notes, “You get to sit on a plane, somebody gets you a Diet Pepsi and you can watch a movie. That’s not too bad.”
Sure beats that 12-hour drive to Denver.
Reach Ferd Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org.