Old Oakmont teammates are slammin’ at the next level
DAVIS — They attended Oakmont High School together, practiced and played together, took on the Sierra Foothill League together and came within one point of winning a Sac-Joaquin Section Division II championship together at then-ARCO Arena.
That was three short years ago, yet J.T. Adenrele and Tony Gill, well …
“It’s definitely different. I didn’t know what to expect,” Gill said.
“It was kinda weird. I didn’t know whether to smile or get mad,” Adenrele said. “Hopefully, that dunk earned some respect.”
The former high school teammates have made it to the next level, Adenrele at UC Davis and Gill at University of the Pacific — big-time enough to be NCAA Division I and still close enough to face each other in a Big West Conference game on Jan. 5 at UC Davis.
UOP left The Pavilion with a 74-64 victory that saw Gill earn his first start for the Tigers and score one point in 12 minutes. A junior, he climbed a rung up the collegiate ladder after two years at Cosumnes River College.
Gill followed the UC Davis game by leading the Tigers (9-7 overall, 3-1 Big West) with 17 points in an 80-62 victory over UC Santa Barbara on Jan. 10. He shot a perfect 6 for 6 from the field and played a team-high 24 minutes in a reserve role.
Adenrele, meanwhile, has started all 15 games for the Aggies (5-10, 1-3). He’s averaging 11.3 points and 5.1 rebounds, including a 14-point, seven-rebound, two-assist, two-steal effort in 29 minutes against UOP. His slam dunk gave UC Davis a 24-23 halftime lead in front of a crowd of 1,293.
Adenrele and Gill stay in constant communication.
“He’s gotten so much better,” Gill said of Adenrele. “I’m just really proud of him, his confidence. He’s matured. He filled out. I used to be able to push him around.”
Adenrele, a 6-foot-6 forward, said he loves his teammates, the program and UC Davis coach Jim Les, the former Sacramento Kings guard who was a crowd favorite. Les yells at Adenrele occasionally, demanding improvement, and Les is getting it.
“He’s at a much higher point from where he was last year,” Les said. “He’s bigger, stronger. He still has a high ceiling.”
Adenrele leads the Aggies in blocked shots — he has 21 of UC Davis’ 45 blocks — and is second on the team in rebounding. His offensive game has improved at UC Davis.
“With Coach Les, I’ve become a better offensive player with the face-up game, the hook shot, how to finish through contact,” he said. “I’m still improving.”
Gill, a 6-foot-8 forward, turned hard work in practice into a start. He said he loves UOP.
“I’ve learned so much about the game,” he said. “Now I know what it takes to be successful.”
Members of Oakmont’s team might know more about what it takes now, too. Several members of this season’s team attended the game with Vikings coach Rick Campbell. Adenrele and Gill caught up with their former high school teammates after the game, Gill including a quick visit with his family before the UOP bus departed for Stockton. Adenrele shook hands, hugged his former schoolmates and put them in playful headlocks.
“It’s great for my guys to see what it takes to be a Division I athlete,” Campbell said. “I’m very proud of both of them. They’re incredibly motivated, and they love the game.”
Contact Bill Poindexter at email@example.com. Follow him in Twitter at BillP_RsvPT.