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California Dreamin': Federal Way’s Umipig will play basketball at Cal State Fullerton
Isiah Umipig just couldn’t pass up the sun and fun of California.
The Federal Way High School senior guard will take his basketball game to Cal State Fullerton next year. Umipig verbally committed to play for the Titans earlier this week after taking a recruiting visit to Fullerton two weekends ago.
“It was nice,” Umipig said. “It’s California and it was hot. The campus was also really nice. I knew that was the place for me. I felt comfortable there and committed.”
Umipig will officially sign his national letter of intent on Nov. 11, the first day of the early-signing period for high school basketball players to accept their full-ride scholarships.
“I really liked the coaches,” Umipig said. “They have a good team. They play up tempo and are guard-oriented, which is perfect for me.”
The 6-foot guard played a huge role during Federal Way’s run to the Class 4A state championship last March. Umipig led all scorers during the Eagles’ win over the Garfield Bulldogs in the state title game inside the Tacoma Dome, finishing with 19 points on 5-of-9 shooting. During the state tournament, Umipig averaged 8.5 points a game, despite not being 100 percent healthy.
Umipig played only 13 games during the regular season last year, after suffering an ankle injury during the fall.
“He was still limited last season because of the injury,” Eagle head coach Jerome Collins said. “He still wasn’t 100 percent. His endurance wasn’t quite there. But he is a player.”
Cal-State Fullerton finished 15-17 last year and plays in the Big West Conference. The Titans finished as the seventh-place team and lost to Cal State Santa Barbara in the Big West Tournament.
Fullerton last played at the NCAA Tournament in 2008, when they were beaten by Wisconsin in the opening round.
According to Collins, Umipig was also being recruited by Portland State, Portland, Long Beach State and Seattle University.
“They did a good job recruiting him,” Collins said. “It’s a good fit for him. He loved the staff and loved the players.”
Umipig wanted to get the recruiting process out of the way before playing his senior year.
“It’s a big deal for my school and for my family,” Umipig said. “My family was really excited and really happy for me.”
Umipig’s attention now shifts to bringing the Federal Way boys basketball program another Class 4A state championship. The Eagles begin practice next month and he will be one of two starters returning from last year’s team, including Cole Dickerson.
“We are doing real good right now,” Umipig said. “We lost a couple guys from last year, but we have some young guys that can play. We are expecting to do the same thing we did last year.”
Dickerson will, most likely, be joining Umipig as a Division I signee before the high school basketball season kicks off. According to Collins, the 6-foot-7 senior is also pretty close to making a college commitment.
Dickerson will choose between several schools, including the University of San Francisco, Portland State, Pacific, Portland, Idaho, Eastern Washington and Washington State.
Dickerson was the most consistent player for Federal Way all season long last year. The forward led the Eagles in scoring at 17.5 points a game. He finished in double figures in 28 of Federal Way’s 30 games. Dickerson also led the Eagles in rebounding at 8.21 a game and blocked 56 shots during the regular season. He also shot 66 percent from the field (166 for 253). During Federal Way’s postseason run, Dickerson was named to the Class 4A state All-Tournament Team after averaging 17 points in their four victories in Tacoma.
Dickerson finished with 28 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots during the Eagles’ quarterfinal win over Walla Walla and 18 points in the title-game win over Garfield.
This will be the fifth year in a row that a Federal Way player has signed with a Division I college program. Terrell Smith inked with the University of the Pacific in 2006, Pooh Williams signed with Utah State in ‘07, Aaron Broussard signed with Seattle University in 2008 and Jeff Forbes is currently a freshman at Eastern Washington University.