Santa Barbara High senior Bryce Warrecker has played his last game of organized basketball, but he is going out on top.
The 6-foot-8 forward is one of 15 players to be selected to Cal-Hi’s All-State Division II first team.
“It’s a really big-name group that I’m really proud to be a part of,” said Warrecker, who’s been recruited to play baseball at Cal Poly next year. “There’s some amazing guys on that list — players whose highlights I’ve seen on ESPN and on Instagram.
“Having this as my last award in basketball is pretty special, and something I’ll be able to tell my kids about some day.”
He averaged 22.7 points per game this year, tying Mike Garrett (1996) for sixth place in the Dons’ record book. Garrett continued on to play at San Jose State.
Paul Johnson, who helped UCSB reach the 1990 NCAA Tournament as well as make two NIT appearances, set the school record of 26.02 points per game in 1988.
Also in the top five are three SBHS alumni who played in the NBA: Don Ford (25.0 in 1971), Keith (Jamaal) Wilkes (24.1 in 1970), and Victor Bartolome (24.0 in 1966). Matt Purdy, who played at Northwestern, ranks fifth on the Dons’ single-season scoring list (23.0 in 1991).
Santa Barbara coach Corey Adam said Warrecker’s versatility made him an elite front-court player.
“He has excellent post skills and can easily post players his size and smaller, forcing double teams,” he said. “He is also a good three-point shooter, shooting over 33% the past two seasons.
“In addition, his ball skills for a 6-foot-8 guy are exceptional. He’s able to take guys smaller off the bounce with a combination of quickness, strength and balance, and he blows by guys his size and bigger.”
As a junior, Warrecker averaged 19.5 points and 8.5 rebounds to lead the Dons (29-5, 10-0 Channel League) to the CIF-Southern Section Division 3A semifinals. Warrecker was tabbed to that division’s All-CIF first team.
He was a second-team pick this year in Division 2A after Santa Barbara (19-9, 9-1) tied San Marcos for the Channel League championship and advanced to the second round of the 2A playoffs.
“The coaches were kind of disappointed that I only made second-team, but the CIF bases most of that on how far you go in the playoffs,” Warrecker said. “Coach (Greg) Blessing did a week’s worth of statistical research on my behalf, however, and submitted it (to Cal-Hi).”
Warrecker’s 22.7-point average came on 61% shooting. He also shot 79% from the free-throw line and averaged 10 rebounds per game. He will also be graduating with academic honors in June.
“His most important strength is his leadership and work ethic,” Adam said. “Some guys work as hard as him but no one worked harder. No one puts up more shots outside of practice times, no one pushes themselves more in the weight room. He led us with his effort, drive, positivity and desire.”
Warrecker credited his success on the basketball court to a long line of coaches that included Dave Palmer and Juan Villareal on the youth level, leading up to high school with the likes of Dave Bregante, Blessing and Adam.
“This was the result of a lot of hard work and a lot of coaches helping me and pushing me,” he said.
He originally committed to Cal Poly to play both basketball and baseball, but the dismissal of Joe Callero as the Mustangs’ basketball coach now has him playing just baseball. Cal Poly, whose coaching staff is led by Larry Lee and includes his uncle Teddy Warrecker, recruited him as both a pitcher and first baseman.
He posted a career win-loss pitching record of 8-1 at Santa Barbara. His earned run average was 2.55 as a sophomore and 0.88 as a junior. He hadn’t given up an earned run this season, going 2-0 with 19 strikeouts in 14 innings, when the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the CIF State office to cancel the rest of the season.
“I’m really happy with my improvement over the last 10 months,” he said. “I was only throwing about 80 mph last year and this spring I was getting clocked at 90 mph.
“I sent some bullpen video to Teddy and talked to him on Saturday and he said my body was moving really well, in my pitching motion.”
Warrecker, the son of Wes and Lara Warrecker, is hoping to play for the Santa Barbara Foresters summer collegiate team. His father and two uncles all played for the team, and his grandfather, Fred, played for the original Santa Barbara Foresters in the late 1950s.
“The hope is that we might be able to start playing July 1st, but we just don’t know yet,” he said. “That would be awesome to get any games in. I’d love to start playing against college-level guys and see how they play the game and adjust mine appropriately.
“Going from high school to college baseball is one of the biggest jumps in sports, and so playing summer ball would be really good for me.”
He’s been working out in the meantime with Santa Barbara High catcher Vince Gamberdella.
“I’ve been trying to do whatever I can to stay in baseball shape,” Warrecker said.