The UC Santa Barbara men’s water polo team has six recruits lined up to bring some depth to a roster that rose to No. 2 in the national rankings during the 2012 season but finished 2-8 in their final 10 games.
“When we are recruiting, we look for players who address our current needs, and any players who can come in to our program and compete right away,” Assistant Coach John Abdou said. “We watch the players at their high school games, but we really study them on their club teams. I think that’s becoming a new trend not only in water polo, but a lot of other sports as well. Playing for a good club team shows us that they are committed to their sport year-round and want to move on to the collegiate ranks.”
The Gaucho recruiting process is still ongoing, but they have already locked up Nick Wiley, Anthony Buljan, Tyler Martin, Andrew Judge, Kyle Garwick and Alden Geller.
Wiley is a graduate of Coronado High School in San Diego, where he was a standout performer and a First Team All-San Diego selection in his senior season.
“Wiley is an attacker and is a great playmaker from what we have seen so far,” Abdou said. “We are excited to have him aboard.”
Buljan is coming to UCSB by way of Serra High School in San Mateo, California. In his senior season, Buljan compiled 121 goals, 34 assists and 43 steals in 28 games played.
“Buljan is a center, and we think he has a lot of potential to develop into a formidable player at the collegiate level,” Abdou said.
Martin is an attacker from San Ramon High School, where he helped the Wolves reach the North Coast Section Division I title game in consecutive seasons. In his senior season, Martin notched 57 goals and 117 steals on his way to earning the East Bay Athletic League MVP award.
“Martin is a very fast swimmer and a great athlete,” Abdou said. “We really like him on defense.”
Andrew Judge is an interesting case because he will be coming to the Gauchos all the way from New York, which is not normally known for its water polo.
“We saw Judge play for the S.E.T. Water Polo Club in Orange County over the summer, and Head Coach Wolf Wigo is also from New York, so we have done our homework on this guy,” Abdou said.
Garwick is a 6’5” goalie hailing from Damien High School in La Verne, California. During his high school and club career, Garwick earned numerous awards including First Team All-Sierra League in 2010, 2011, 2012, First Team All-CIF in 2011, 2012 and the 2012 San Gabriel Valley Player of the Year award.
“Garwick played for one of the top club teams in Southern California, and he has great size for a goalie,” Abdou said. “Our starting goalie, Myles Christian, is graduating this year, and we really like freshman goalie Chris Whitelegge, so Garwick adds some nice depth to our team and we expect him to compete right away.”
Last but not least, Geller is coming to UCSB as a graduate of La Canada High School in California. Geller’s strong senior season that featured 77 goals and 42 steals earned him a First Team All-Rio Hondo League selection.
“We really like his size at 6’4”, and the fact that he’s left handed,” Abdou said. “He’s a well-rounded player, and we expect him to do a lot of good things for us in the future.”
Looking ahead to next season, the Gauchos will be without five key players from the 2012 roster. Seniors Brian Shoemaker and Myles Christian will be graduating, and Dylan Baliani, Ted Zhang and Evan Dellinger will no longer play with the team. However, one thing is for certain: The future of Gaucho water polo looks bright with these new recruits and the young stars already on the roster.
This article is an online exclusive and did not appear in the print edition of The Daily Nexus.
Photo courtesy of UCSB Athletics.