WARDEN — Warden senior J.R. Delgado got a little taste of what it’s like to play with the best his senior season, leading the Cougars on a historic run to their first ever trip to the Class 1A state tournament at the Yakima SunDome, earning the South Central Athletic Conference East Player of the Year along the way.
Now the 6-foot-3 small forward is going to see how his game stacks up with the best of the Northwest Athletic Conference. Delgado is headed to Community Colleges of Spokane next fall to play for Spokane coach Jeremy Groth.
The Cougar senior averaged 24.6 points, seven rebounds, three assists and five steals per game, with 32 and 33-point scoring nights, respectively, against Granger and Zillah in the South Central Athletic Conference 1A District 5 playoffs. He was named to The Associated Press all-state first team his senior season and made the honorable mention list the year before as a junior.
Accolades are fine, but in a league where everybody is good, it’s a whole new shooting match.
“Looking back these past couple years, Spokane has been pretty successful. Two years ago they were crowned NWAC Champions and last year they made a strong run for another one,” Delgado said. “I love winning and I know they expect nothing less. The coaches are great. My visit went smooth and I felt welcomed right when I got there. It’s a great place to be and I know will give me a great opportunity moving forward.”
One thing he did find with his 1A state tournament experience, playing three consecutive nights, he has to work on his strength and stamina.
“My plan is to live in the weight room and gym,” said Delgado, who will start with general studies. “Spending countless hours in there working on my strength, speed, and overall ball game will help me reach that next level. D-I is my goal and I'll do anything needed to get there.”
Warden’s run ‘n’ gun, push the ball up the floor and pop the 3-pointer style of play fits right into what he’s expecting from the community college style. He’s a natural fit at Spokane.
“I've been to a couple NWAC games and what I really like the most is the speed of play,” he said. “It's fast paced, up and down the court and that's the way I like to play. The guys are there for a reason. Obviously they are all good, but I feel like I'll fit right in.
“I like to test my limits and face the best. It pushes me to be better than they are. It pushes me to be the best.”
Delgado is a small town guy with big time dreams. He could find himself playing in front of more people than live in his hometown, but he’s good with that. Gives him a little edge.
“Spokane is a great spot, not too far from home, which means my family and friends will have the opportunity to come check me out on a new team, sporting a new look,” he said. “I'm sure my family will come all of my home games and some away, like Big Bend. It's gonna feel real special seeing the gang up there for another two years cheering me on.”