Brett Sayad is the closest thing to a local product on this season’s Cal State Stanislaus men’s basketball team. Well, at least one that’s part of the playing rotation — which can be seen as quite of an exception since the Warriors are made up of players from across the country, and the world.
We’re talking about places like New York (Prince Abidoye), Arizona (Marcus Lever) and New Jersey (Reggie Jones) and across-the-globe locations like Dakar, Senegal (Mactar Gueye) and San Juan, Puerto Rico (Frank Monge). All those players have their own unique account about how they landed in Turlock, a city that perhaps didn’t even exist in their minds before their arrival.
Sayad knew about Stanislaus before he got here, of course, seeing that he’s about a 10-minute drive from Ceres High, where he developed his skills and graduated from in 2008.
In his first season at the Division II level after his two-year stint at Modesto Junior College, he’s still trying to get comfortable in a system that looks to utilize his 6-foot-6 frame and his ability to both rebound and shoot over the big forwards and centers who typically guard him. His next opportunity is today at 7 p.m., when the 2-5 Warriors host Cal Baptist, a school that Sayad said showed interest during his recruitment but never got very far in the process.
“I have a little grudge against them,” the junior guard/forward said about today’s NAIA opponent that’s based in Southern California. “The coach was all talk, kinda left me hanging. I think it worked out for the better.”
So far, Sayad has had an up-and-down debut season. He’s started three games, and he’s had to come off the bench in other games. He’s played well, highlighted by his 14-point, five-rebound performance in an 89-52 win over Humboldt State on Dec. 4. And he’s played not so well, underscored by a 0-for-7 night against Sonoma State.
His coach, Larry Reynolds, said “he’s progressing fine.”
“It takes more than two, three, four games,” the second-year coach said. “To be consistent, he has to find where he’s comfortable. The guys are a little bigger, they’re a little quicker. They get to him a little easier, so all those adjustments have to be made.”
“We’re still getting used to playing with each other,” Sayad added about his teammates.
Reynolds didn’t have to go very far to recruit Sayad, though the same could be said about Reynolds’ other transfers. Players like New York’s Abidoye, New Jersey’s Jones, Senegal’s Gueye and Puerto Rico’s Monge all went through the California junior college system before arriving in Turlock.
September 2009 was the first time Reynolds saw Sayad play, during one of MJC’s practices. The Stanislaus coach eventually offered him the opportunity to become one of a bevy of JC transfers on this year’s squad.
“He was open to our recruitment, but he wanted to see other options and if he wanted to leave the area,” Reynolds said. “I think it came to him wanting to stay in the area, and his family wanted him to stay and play. We were very fortunate to have him commit to us.”
So far, Sayad has logged in 145 minutes in seven games. And he gets to play in front of his family and friends, something he’ll do again in today’s nonconference action against a Cal Baptist team that apparently overlooked him during the recruiting process.
“I’ve been looking forward to playing them since I saw them on the schedule,” he said.
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