Coltrane Powdrill is the new kid on the Crescenta Valley High boys’ basketball team this year, but an introduction to the neighborhood was hardly necessary.
The 6-foot-4, 200-pound post threat already called the community of La Crescenta home while a student at St. Francis for the past two years. Now that he’s transferred to his hometown high school for his junior year, both Powdrill and the Falcons are excited about the prospects this homecoming % holds.
"A lot of kids that go here, I went to middle school with and it’s just fun to come back and be with more of your friends and have that support with your family here most of the time," Powdrill says. "I knew most of [the players] already and we already have a good companionship on the team, so it’s all fun.
"I like it here. It’s a good environment to be in."
With four returning varsity players from last year’s squad projected for the starting lineup, Powdrill will be slotted into the Falcons’ one vacancy, the center position.
Comparisons with the last player to occupy that position for the Falcons, all-league first-teamer and 2008 graduate Clay Sierra, have been inevitable since the news of Powdrill’s transfer broke.
"Clay was so athletic and could play at both ends of the floor," Crescenta Valley Coach Shawn Zargarian says of Sierra, who averaged a double-double with 2.5 blocks per game his senior year. "Coltrane is almost similar in that sense, where he’s really athletic and can do some special things on the court.
"The biggest thing about [Powdrill] is that he can play with his back to the basket and step out and square up, so he kind of gives us that inside-outside look."
While Powdrill appreciates the intentions behind the comparisons to his predecessor, he’s intent on carving out his own identity as a Falcon.
"I’ve heard stories about [Sierra]," says Powdrill, who faced Sierra once in summer league play last season while at St. Francis and scored 13 points. "He’s pretty good, but I just want to be myself.
"I’m not trying to compare myself with anybody, just play my game and be successful with % that."
Powdrill will undoubtedly have a better chance to distinguish himself in his new surroundings, as opposed to the last year, when the Golden Knights struggled to stay afloat in the stacked Mission League despite a talented % lineup.
While the Division I-AA Mission League is perennially dominated by powers such as Harvard-Westlake and Crespi, the Division II-AA Pacific League is currently one of the most balanced in the Southern Section. Crescenta Valley finished in a three-way tie for second place in league last season.
"The Mission League was very competitive," Powdrill says. "The Pacific League is very competitive too, but it’s more equal-level teams. ...This is gonna be a fight throughout the whole season."
Joining a Falcons squad that
advanced to the second round of the playoffs the last two years, Powdrill can look forward to being part of a team with CIF playoff expectations for the first time.
"Our goal is to get 20-plus wins, win league and go as far as we can in CIF," Powdrill says.
Just as Powdrill is excited to become a Falcon, the Falcons have welcomed their new arrival as an unexpected bonus that could take them from a strong contender to a league front-runner.
"I thought he would be a good addition, we needed a big guy down low," says junior forward Brandt Bowers, who will start on the Falcons’ front line alongside Powdrill and power forward Nick Dragovich. "I knew he was a good player, so I was pretty excited to have him on the team."
Zargarian says Powdrill’s assimilation into the Falcons’ fold has been a quick and effortless one, which also seems to be a consensus among the players.
"I heard he was coming over to our team and I didn’t know what to expect, but it was a great addition, actually, and we got along very well," senior shooting guard Eric Yoo says. "We knew he was good from the start, but it’s not like he just showed up and took control of the team. He just became a team member, he just became our friend.
"He’s completed our starting five and made us a really great team. We have people we can go in the post to and that’s opened up a lot of things for the shooters and the point guards — it made the game much easier for us."
Powdrill’s made things easier on himself, as well, by approaching his new situation with none of the self-importance that the high expectations surrounding his arrival might engender.
"For me it wasn’t hard getting along with anybody," Powdrill says. "Offensively and defensively, I just want to help my team out with a positive attitude and work ethic."
With that approach, the groundwork is laid for a promising Falcons career, but when it’s all said and done, Powdrill’s contributions will likely go far beyond that modest foundation.