Former Sabino High School coach Marty Roth and assistant Marvin Beckwith, both of whom helped lead the Sabercats to the Class 3A state title game last season, are set this season to head the Southern Arizona Volunteers — the first boys prep basketball team developed locally.
The Volunteers, to be operated as a non-profit organization, will be of the same mold of established prep schools in the Phoenix area, such as Hillcrest, PHH Prep and AZ Compass, and aim to recruit 25 to 30 local players to comprise elite and junior elite teams.
Roth and Beckwith coached six seasons together at Sabino and compiled a 105-67 record, including 53-8 in the last two years. The Sabercats won a region title last season with a 10-0 record. They were hired in March in the same capacity at new high school Mica Mountain in Vail.
Roth has formally stepped down from head coach there, although he still teaches at the school.
“Marvin has been with me coaching together at Sabino and we’ve developed a bond and coaching team that has been successful in so many ways,” Roth told AllSportsTucson.com. “The idea with a prep team is, one, our name is the Southern Arizona Volunteers. Why Volunteers? Because we’re going to have an emphasis on character development, community service and learning what it is to be a giver than just a taker.”
Roth mentioned the program plans to take part in various charity events in the Tucson area.
“And then, of course, the dream for kids is to play beyond high school,” he continued. “With a prep basketball team, with kids from all over the city, the talent level you can combine, every day will bring tough competition.”
Roth and Beckwith will coach the Volunteers this season at the LEAD Center on South Irving Avenue in Tucson. The players, ranging from freshmen to seniors, will attend their high schools and engage in practices and games at LEAD.
Roth said the program is in the closing process to acquire land and buildings which will house the team starting in the 2021-22 season. The facility will include gymnasiums with state-of-the-art LED lighted flooring.
“We are committed to delivering on the educational side of this program by combining a high school classroom environment with an athletic development program,” a statement from the Volunteers reads. “We are in the closing process for land and buildings which will become our campus and expect to break ground in the coming months and be ready for instruction in Fall 2021.”
The Volunteers will play in an open division called the Canyon Athletic Association — independent of the Arizona Interscholastic Association — that will include teams from Phoenix, Las Vegas and California. Their schedule will also feature games against junior college and NAIA teams. A 35-second shot clock will be implemented (AIA does not utilize a shot clock).
“We will have a playoff and the championship will be played in the Phoenix Suns’ arena (Talking Stick Resort Arena),” Roth said. “That idea alone is going to blossom and it’s going to draw because this movement of prep basketball is real and it’s not going away. In fact, I think it’s just going to continue to grow.
“Many factors contribute to the legitimacy of what we’re doing. The kids are going to get to play against college players in front of college coaches. We’re going to be playing against top prep teams. I mean, 70 percent of the top talent in Arizona is already on a prep team. If I’ve got a kid that performs well against another four-star recruit, then there’s no doubt as to whether my kid can play. It wasn’t a scenario that the team we were playing against was soft.”
Roth and Beckwith will host a parent-player meeting at LEAD at 7 p.m. on Sept. 10 to answer questions about their program and sign potential players. Tryouts will take place in the days after that to fill the 25 to 30 roster spots. They plan to start the Volunteers’ first season in October. They anticipate a 35-game schedule.
More on this development to come at AllSportsTucson.com.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.