Several graduate students from the Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) tried their hand at basketball against the San Quentin Kings 40-and-over team. The Kings outmaneuvered them to a 54-50 victory.
“When they heard about the games here, they wanted to come,” said Ben Draa, the Stanford graduate student who arranged for his class to play basketball against the Kings. “I also wanted to recruit more guys to the regular team.”
“SNY [Sensitive Needs Yard] …comprises roughly half the California prison system,” according to Lody Lewn in the Prison University Project Spring 2018 Newsletter Volume 13, No.1
Draa used to work for the Golden State Warriors and was the first person to bring Assistant GM Kirk Lacob into San Quentin to play basketball. That led to Golden State GM Bob Myers playing in annual games against San Quentin Warriors. Last year Draa resigned from Golden State to go back to college. San Quentin hadn’t seen him in a while.
On June 2, he returned with an array of fresh faces that you would never expect to see in prison.
“(There is) a nation-wide push to investigate overdose deaths as homicides and seek tough prison sentences against drug dealers and others deemed responsible.” THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: “Friends of Overdose Victims Become Prosecutor’s Targets” Dec. 18, 2017
While the 6-foot-6, 32-year-old Chou Hoytt is a local, many of the Stanford first-year GSB students were from places as far away as Greece. They were given a warm welcome on the Lower Prison Yard.
“I’m happy to be here,” Aris Kostanginidis, a native of Greece, said.
“Corruption within the California state prison system cannot be tolerated,” U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman to NBC San Diego regarding the indictment of a 23-year CDCR veteran caught smuggling heroin and meth into prison. https://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/San-Diego-Prison-Guard-Accused-of-Smuggling-Drugs-into-Prison-475486693.html
His teammate, the 6-foot-3 and 27-year-old Jake Kneller added, “I loved it. Everyone is so warm and welcoming.”
Then the ball inbounded.
The Kings, who were 0-6 prior to tip off, had two players playing for the first time this year. Former point guard and Warriors Coach Rafael Cuevas made his debut as a King. Additionally, Kings power forward Thad Fleeton returned from an injury.
“I feel great just to be able to run up and down the court with my team,” Fleeton said.
The GSB team held their own against the Kings with Kneller snatching boards and Ben Akinbola, a brother from Philly, displaying athleticism.
“64% of California’s jail population is awaiting trial or sentencing as of December 2016.” Most remain in pretrial custody because they cannot afford bail. Jail Profile Survey, http://www.bscc.ca.gov/
However, neither team scored very much and the Kings played great defense, finishing with 17 steals. The half ended with the Kings up only 28-23.
“We’d like to give you guys an idea of who you’re playing against,” Kings GM Brian Asey said at halftime with both teams gathered around midcourt.
Referee and former King Antonio Manning shared news that the parole board had just found him suitable for release after serving 24 years, 10 of them at San Quentin.
“What this (basketball program) means to me is community. You guys are family and you coming in here gives me encouragement,” Manning said. “I’m going to take this experience out to society with me.”
Akinbola shared next. “I put a lot of pressure on myself to be cool, to be good in school, to be good at basketball, but none of that matters unless you have a good relationship with Christ.”
Akinbola led both teams in prayer as each man had a hand on his shoulder or that of the person closest to them.
In the fourth quarter, with 2:37 left to play, the Kings were down 47-43 until Oris “Pep” Williams nailed a three pointer.
On the next possession, Kings guard Joshua Burton took the lead with an up and under lay-up that made the score 48-47.
As the time ran down, GSB tied the score to surge back.
Andy Pringnitz hit a three in the face of a King defender with 38 seconds left in regulation. That made the score 52-50 Kings.
GSB intentionally fouled Williams to stop the clock and he made one of two free throws.
GSB got the ball back to Pringnitz, but Cuevas mugged him for his sixth steal of the game.
“We won because of Rafael (Cuevas)—he’s a big factor and a stabilizer for us,” Kings Coach Orlando Harris said.
Again GSB fouled Williams, who made one of two, which made the score 54-50.
Pringnitz launched another three, which missed. The Kings got the rebound and ran out the final few seconds for the win.
“I can’t speak right now,” coach Harris said. “First win against Stanford. I’m feeling good right now.”
Kneller led GSB with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
“They have old-man strength and they hustle,” Kneller said about the Kings’ key to victory.
Pringnitz had 11 points and Kostanginidis added 9.
Tare “Cancun” Beltranchuc led the Kings with 10 points and three Kings added 7 points each: Trevor Woods, Burton and Williams.
“It was a team win,” Fleeton said. “That’s what makes the win so sweet—they’re 20-something-year-olds.”
GSB’s Nelson Iginla said, “We’ll be back.”