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JEFF GRITCHEN, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
San Juan Hills' new basketball coach Jason Efstathiou coaches his players during a summer practice on Monday.

Efstathiou gets started at San Juan Hills

STAFF WRITER

San Juan Hills High administrators didn’t look very far to find their next varsity boys basketball coach. The school looked to the South Coast League and found Jason Efstathiou, an assistant varsity coach at Aliso Niguel, to lead the Stallions starting this summer.

Efstathiou, 33, takes over for Kelly Hambrick, who resigned in late April after seven years as coach to create more time for his family. Efstathiou has already been preparing with the program for about a month and started practices three weeks ago.

Under Hambrick in 2014-15, the Stallions finished 14-13, but fell out of the CIF-Southern Section Division 2A playoffs in a first-round loss to Temescal Canyon.

With Efstathiou, the program gets a coach with 12 years’ experience who has already coached club programs in the community. Efstathiou is the founder and head coach for JSK Basketball, a 2009 startup that holds practices in Aliso Viejo and San Juan Capistrano.

The new coach said he’s excited about taking over the program.

“I think there’s a lot of promise with it being a young school,” Efstathiou said. “I’m excited to teach the guys who are there some new things and this new class coming in because it will be my first incoming class.”

Through his experience at Aliso Niguel in the South Coast League, Efstathiou already has a bead on the challenges that both the Sea View and South Coast Leagues present. Now that summer workouts are underway, he said the 2015-16 team is a bit inexperienced, but he said he has plenty of pieces that he can utilize immediately.

Connor Pederson will be the biggest part of that puzzle. The senior-to-be averaged 11.4 points and 5.8 rebounds per game last season.

“As far as the competition goes, in any given year there could be someone in South Coast or Sea View that’s really good. I don’t think there’s much of a difference,” Efstathiou said. “I definitely look at it as an inexperienced team, but I want to put my stamp here and I’m going to work around the clock to make it work.”

One of Efstathiou’s immediate goals is to develop a feeder program for San Juan Hills. It’s something he did at Aliso Niguel and it allowed him to bring in kids with experience as freshmen, rather than learning for the first time, he said.

JSK Basketball could play a big part. Teams practice in the gym at the San Juan Sports Park. Efstathiou also said that Hambrick is still involved in the program and will be coaching the freshman level this season.

“(He) asked to stay in the program and of course, I’d love to have him. I’m grateful to have him,” he said.

Efstathiou grew up in Dana Point and attended Dana Hills High before studying undergrad at UCLA and obtaining his teaching credential at Concordia University.

He lives in Aliso Viejo with his wife Heather and their 7 1/2-month old daughter Londyn.


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