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Wesonga Finds New 'Home Court' in the City

The former San Marin High basketball standout gives up his scholarship to Cal State Northridge to play closer to home at City College of San Francisco and pursue a more desirable future destination.

It’s not unusual for a high school athlete to get homesick after accepting a scholarship to attend college and play far away from family and friends.

But here’s what makes different from most: He decided to act upon his discomfort before it cost him a year of collegiate eligibility.

Wesonga, the dominant big man who led to Marin County Athletic League and North Coast Section championships last season, was ticketed to begin his college career at Cal State Northridge this month.

Instead, he’s now six games into his freshman campaign at City College of San Francisco, having already cracked a talented starting lineup of the defending state champs while at the same time getting to perform in front of familiar faces.

“I’m happy I made that decision,” the 6-foot-7, 210-pound forward declared this week of forfeiting his Northridge scholarship. “I wanted to be closer to home. Seeing my parents … I wanted to have them closer to me so they can see me play.”

In fact, they already have. They were in attendance, along with this year’s edition of the San Marin basketball team, when CCSF tipped off its 2011-12 season by hosting a tournament earlier this month.

Wesonga didn’t start that weekend, but has since impressed coach Justin Labagh enough to move into the starting five.

He’s already scored in double figures twice, including 14 points in his first start against Allan Hancock College of Santa Maria in the semifinals of a tournament in Fresno last weekend, for a team that's 4-2 headed into Tuesday's home game against Hartnell of Salinas.

“I consider myself a starter now,” Wesonga assured. “But I’m going to work hard to make sure I keep starting.”

Working hard has never been a problem for the former Mustangs standout. He was always considered one of the hardest workers even while he was far and away the most talented high school player in Marin.

Now that he’s among quicker, bigger and sometimes taller athletes in college, he’s not about to tinker with his successful formula.

“I started working hard in high school,” he noted. “I’m just following that same path. Now I’m working even harder.”

Perhaps the biggest adjustment for Wesonga, who now lives in an apartment in San Francisco, is moving away from the basket. At 6-7, he matches up better with college forwards, which means putting more emphasis on perimeter defense and outside shooting.

But make no mistake about it: A guy who routinely gobbled up more than 20 rebounds in a game last season isn’t about to forget the skill that earned him the Northridge scholarship in the first place.

“That’s still the strength of my game — I have a knack to go after the ball,” he assured. “It’s not like high school, where I touched the ball almost every possession. I don’t get the ball as much, and that makes rebounding all the more important. That’s where you can change the game.”

Where it was once Wesonga’s goal to get a college scholarship, he’s now raised the bar. At CCSF, he’s pursuing a full ride to a more desirable major-college destination — maybe even one close enough to home so that Mom and Dad can continue attending the games.

“I didn’t think it was the best fit for me,” Wesonga said of the Northridge offer. “I needed to do more research for what is the best fit for me. Staying closer to home, that’s important to me.”

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