C olumbia College basketball star sophomore DeAndre Stallings planned to visit Concordia University a couple of weeks ago, a division II college in Portland, Ore.
Two days before leaving, the travel “linguistics” fell through and the visit was postponed.
The trip north went south.
Two hours later, Columbia head coach Rob Hoyt received a phone call from a division I school in southern california that changed everything.
Two weeks later, Stallings verbally agreed to play next season at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, better known as Cal Poly.
“There are so many things to love about Cal Poly,” said Stallings Thursday outside Oak Pavilion as he gazed to the sky like he was daydreaming. “The ocean is right there, there’s a farmer’s market every Thursday and everybody seems so nice.”
The assistant coach from Cal Poly told Hoyt they wanted to see Stallings play and invited him down for one of the team’s Friday practices.
The assistant didn’t know anything about Concordia and was surprised when Hoyt said, “We’ll see you Friday. I’ll drive him down myself.”
After expediting paperwork, Stallings unofficially visited which was considered an OCE, or, on campus evaluation.
“Coach (Hoyt) told me there was an open gym and I had to show up and ball to move on to the next level,” Stallings said. “I did pretty well apparently.”
The 6-foot-7 sharpshooter made quite an impression.
In Cal Poly head coach Joe Callero’s office after the practice, they wanted to bring him back for an official visit.
“He didn’t do anything surprising to me, or what the community has seen for the last two years, but for them … ” Hoyt said. “He had another guy as big as him, trying to chase him around and DeAndre was hitting shots all over the place. He was awesome. I thought he one of the best players in the gym.”
Stallings took his visit, and apparently tore it up on the court again. A couple of days later, Cal Poly coaches were in the living room of Stalling’s parents. A day later DeAndre verbally committed.
“Tennessee State came out twice, Albany and Ole Miss checked in and wanted know info and even Sac. State and San Jose called about him,” Hoyt said. “He had a lot of interest but fortunately for him, and Cal Poly, I think it worked out well for both.”
Stallings was born in Sacramento and moved with his grandparents to Galt in third grade and stayed there through 12th grade.
The first round ball he started playing with was a soccer ball.
“My stepdad played soccer with me and then told my mom, ‘He needs to be a basketball player,” Stallings said.
Stallings, 20, came to Columbia after starring at Liberty Ranch High School. He led the Sac-Joaquin Section in scoring and went to the division IV title game twice, actually losing as a sophomore to the Summerville Bears in 2012-13.
He averaged 18 points and grabbed about nine rebounds per game during his senior season, second and third place, respectively, in the Central Valley Conference.
He was a two-time All-CVC first team member and had a strong argument this past season to be league MVP. He helped the Claim Jumpers beat the Fresno City Rams this year for the first time in many seasons.
He also helped the Claim Jumpers reach postseason in 2015-16.
“I liked playing here, it was a great experience,” Stallings said. “When I first got here I thought there’s nothing here. But throughout these years, I felt at home. A lot of people helped me out with school and transportation.”
Stallings is the latest Claim Jumper to move on to a four-year college. His scholarship to Cal Poly, who made the NCAA Tournament two years ago, is guaranteed for 2018.
Everybody that has played for two years under Hoyt have received scholarships at four-year institutions.
The list includes Dan Radford, a Bret Harte graduate and All-American player this year at California State University Maritime Academy in Vallejo; Summerville grad Travis Arenas who also went to Maritime; Michael Meserole who turned down a scholarship at division II Dominguez Hills to play at Maritime; Mike Williams who went to division II West Florida; Summerville grad Rosendo Amaya-Wood who will graduate this year from Menlo College in the Bay Area and Ian Merzwynski who’s at Bethany College in Kansas.
“I think DeAndre put us on the map in the Sacramento area because he was so well known in high school,” Hoyt said. “He was the highest regarded recruit we’ve ever had here. He took a chance on the school up here … and ended up getting out of it what he wanted out of it which is our ultimate goal.
“We’re losing a great kid and teammate. Guys liked playing with him and being around him. He’s a 6-7 shooter, I’ve done this for 10 years now and I haven’t really seen one of those. I’ve seen only one and that’s him. A guy with his skillset and size, they don’t come around too often.”