Del Oro alum Ron Verlin named new UOP men's hoops coach
Ron Verlin still has a lot of ties to the foothills.
The newly named University of the Pacific men’s basketball coach seems to have even more memories from the area where he grew up.
“That’s where it all started, from coaching and playing to watching games,” said Verlin, a 1983 Del Oro alumnus, who on Tuesday became the 20th head coach in UOP school history. “We were watching at a very young age, a lot of games. Night after night after night, I can remember going to games.”
He recalls Walt Taylor of Loomis taking him and his twin brother, Don, to area hoops contests. And afterward the trio would always get hot fudge sundaes at V.I.P.’s in Newcastle.
“(Walt) took us from age 5 to 13 to every game you could imagine in that area,” Verlin said. “It didn’t matter if Del Oro was playing or not. It could be Roseville vs. Placer.”
Verlin, who has been Pacific's associate head coach for the past 19 seasons, first got into coaching with the Golden Eagles as a freshmen coach from 1986-88.
“My roots really started from Del Oro,” said Verlin, whose freshmen squad won two Sierra Foothill League titles. “John Rankin was the basketball coach at Del Oro and Bill Barker was the assistant. They were really what started the basketball part of it for me. We’re still friends. They come to games in Stockton. I still stay in touch with them. Coach Rankin was one of the first guys I called when I got the job.”
Verlin’s new gig comes after the retirement of coach Bob Thomason, who coached the Tigers for the past 25 years.
The Tigers went 22-13 this season, won the Big West Conference Tournament and qualified for the NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately No. 15 Pacific drew second-seeded Miami and was handed a 78-49 season-ending setback.
Nonetheless, the 2012-13 campaign was a successful one for the Tigers.
“We had 22 wins,” Verlin said. “It was a very good year for us. We won our last seven games until we got beat by Miami. We’ve got a lot of players coming back, we’re really excited. Any year you can get to the tournament as a mid-level school, it’s a good year.”
One player returning next year happens to be a former Del Oro standout. Aaron Hendricks, who played three seasons for the Eagles before transferring to New Hampton in New England, will be on the team as a redshirt freshman.
“He’s paying his own way,” Verlin said of the walk-on Hendricks. “We didn’t really recruit him. We know of him and his family went to school here.”
Verlin said it’s not likely he’ll be scheduling a game against his brother, Don, who currently coaches at the University of Idaho and was once a Placer hoops coach. But the two could always wind up facing each other at a tournament such as the CIT, which by chance happened a few years ago in Stockton.
Verlin, who was a guard at Del Oro and an assistant coach at Sierra College under Rankin, always keeps his eyes out for local talent near his hometown.
“There are some good players up in that area,” he said. “We’ve gone up there a lot of times. We looked at Josh Ritchart at Forest Lake Christian and Rocklin’s Brandan Lane but it didn’t seem to work out. Anytime there’s a good player, give us a call. Anytime we could get an excuse to get back out that’d be great.”
Verlin makes it out to Loomis a couple of times a year to play golf with Rankin and Barker.
His seventh-grade Penryn Elementary School basketball coach, Tom Campbell, who still lives in Loomis, said the Verlin twins were really nice boys and knowledgeable hoopsters at a young age.
“They taught me the ‘City Offense’ (when they played for me),” Campbell said. “Del Oro used it at the time. There was a lot of picks up above the key and always somebody breaking down below the basket.”
Next season UOP is moving from the Big West to the bigger West Coast Conference. Verlin is keeping the same staff he’s been working with in place.
“The last 19 years we’ve had so far have been great,” said Verlin, who encourages people from the Penryn, Loomis, Auburn and Rocklin area to check out a Tigers game in Stockton next season. “We won the Big West seven times and made it to the NCAA Tournament five times. I hope I can keep this thing going. Moving from the Big West to the WCC, the competition upgrades with Gonzaga and St. Mary’s. We’re going to be recruiting hard. I look forward to the challenge. I’ve got a good staff and good players.”