Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Wildcats land a pair of hoopers

Forget Turkey Day. This year, Christmas came early to Chico State.

The Wildcats men’s basketball team landed two of the top 40 players in Northern California Wednesday. High school seniors Jalen McFerren and Nate Ambrosini both committed to playing basketball for Chico State.

“We were lucky,” said Chris Cobb, assistant basketball coach. “We got the two guys we really wanted.”

McFerren and Ambrosini, ranked 22 and 12 in Northern California, respectively, continue a strong stretch of talented recruits for the basketball program.

“As we have gotten better, our reputation is being one of the premier Division II programs in the country,” Cobb said. “I think getting players of their caliber show that.”

McFerren, the first of the two to commit, is a 5-foot-9 point guard from Castro Valley High school, the same Castro Valley that one Rashad Parker called home prior to his days at Acker Gym. He picked Chico State because of the skilled coaching staff, and after visiting campus, the welcoming community.

“On my visit I felt that the community and atmosphere in Chico were great,” McFerren said. “The guys on the team were friendly and welcoming. Overall, a good place for me.”

Cobb said that the young point guard likes to push the ball up court and is effective at setting up teammates, assets that will fit right into the Wildcat system.

Since senior guard Giordano Estrada is set to graduate after the year, McFerren will have an opportunity to compete for playing time as a true freshman.

“I want to play in whatever role the coaches put me in and work hard,” McFerren said. “I want to contribute in any way I can.”

The same situation will await Ambrosini, a 6-5 wing player from Fortuna High. Ambrosini chose Chico after feeling at home with the area and true college town feel. He will have a chance to make an impact right away in the absence of seniors Parker and Sean Park.

Cobb said Ambrosini will bring a physical game and toughness to the court for the ’Cats.

“He’s the type of player that guards the other team’s best player,” Cobb said. “He’s going to bring an ability to win, he’s going to be competitive and he’s going to make us tougher.”

Ambrosini, like McFerren, just wants to help the team any way he can. The team’s goals are his goals, he said.

“I hope to come in and have a big role on the team and do what the coaches want me to do,” he said.

The pair, who were both first-team all conference players last year, are focused on helping their new team win championships. As far as Cobb and head coach Greg Clink are concerned, they both have the talent to contribute right away.

After committing on the same day, the two exchanged congratulatory messages to each other. McFerren actually did a bit of research on his new teammate as well.

“I’ve looked him up and watched some film of him,” McFerren said of Ambrosini. “He’s a tall, versatile player. It’s going to be great having a guy with that talent coming in at the same time as me.”

The team meanwhile, isn’t just happy about getting gifts early. They got exactly what they wanted in the new recruits.

“We aren’t just getting good basketball players, we are getting really good guys,” Cobb said. “These guys are really special.”


Nicholas Woodward can be reached at or @theorion_sports on Twitter

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