Jaquel Pitts has secured an internship with the High Desert Pumas of the American Basketball Association.
The former Central Valley High School multi-sport athlete was hired on Oct. 27 by the Hesperia-based semi-professional men’s basketball expansion franchise.
“We brought him on board to help with recruiting and assistant duties,” said Te’onna Campbell, head coach. “He’s been great so far. He’s a positive guy, hard-working and very consistent.”
“I was going to wait until next year to get involved,” said Pitts, 26. “But pro coaching opportunities don’t come very often. I’m looking forward to being part of a professional organization and learning what it takes to coach professional athletes. That’s been a dream of mine since 2018. Initially, I was training athletes and focusing more on football. I’ve always had a passion for basketball. I didn’t want to live my life without coaching. I studied film of Phil Jackson, Steve Kerr and Doc Rivers to prepare for this position. I’m very intense. My main priority is to win.”
Campbell, High Desert’s head coach, played college basketball at the University of Houston.
She competed professionally overseas in Algeria, Morocco, Dubai and Australia.
“To learn the game from her is essential in helping my development as a coach,” Pitts said. “She knows the game at an advanced level. She can teach me a lot of things about basketball.”
The 2020-21 campaign will get underway this weekend.
High Desert will face Compton’s Beach Hub Corsos on Saturday.
Teams are playing in a bubble at an undisclosed location due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Pumas are newcomers to the ABA.
High Desert will compete in the Far West Region.
Campbell will make history this season.
“She’ll be the first woman to coach in an ABA game,” Pitts said. “That’s monumental.”
Pitts graduated from Central Valley in 2012.
He was a member of the school’s varsity football, basketball and track and field teams.
“If he studies up and learns from the head coach (Campbell), he’ll be successful,” said Darryl Dickson, Pitt’s prep basketball coach.
Pitts earned a Bachelor of University Studies degree from North Dakota’s Mayville State University in 2018.
He previously attended Campbellsville University and Trinity International University.
He appeared in one game for Trinity International’s football program in 2013.
He was a member of Mayville State’s gridiron team in 2014.