Pasadena-native Steve Baik is the head coach of the Chino Hills boys varsity basketball team in California, now ranked no. 1 in the nation with a 29-0 record
As briefly mentioned in last week’s video interview with Lake Oswego head coach Marshall Cho, Asian American head coaches aren’t easy to find on the sidelines of U.S. basketball, whether that be pro or amateur. Rarer still are they found coaching a national powerhouse. Chino Hills head coach Steve Baik, the only Asian American to hold the distinction of coaching the nation’s top basketball team, echoes the sentiment of a lack of Asian American faces in this story from the New York Times.
If you’ve never heard of Chino Hills high school basketball, you wouldn’t be the only one. The Huskies are in San Bernadino County, east of Los Angeles, in a state where basketball is typically dominated by private schools. Chino Hills is a public school which has now risen to national prominence very suddenly, thanks mainly to the emergence of 6-6 star guard Lonzo Ball, now the state’s top-ranked senior and a McDonald’s All-American.
The 37-year-old Baik, who played his ball at Arcadia High School in Pasadena and then Westmont College, took on the Chino Hills coaching job in 2010 and reached the playoffs in his first year. In 2014, the Huskies had what was at the time their best finish in school history, going 29-6, but losing to Centennial HS in the California regional semifinals.
Tragically, the Huskies lost one of their star players in the off-season that year, 6-9 junior Nnamdi Okongwu, who died after injuring his head in a skateboarding accident. In 2015, despite finishing with a 17-15 record, Chino Hills managed to reach the Division I state championship led by Ball and his brother, then sophomore, LiAngelo Ball. They fell short 71-79 to San Ramon Valley in the final.
This season, Baik welcomed yet another member from the Ball family on his roster, freshman LaMelo Ball. All three are starters for the Huskies, and all three are now also committed to UCLA. Baik admits his task has never been easier.
Chino Hills defeated Inglewood 112-78 on Tuesday in the California Southern Section Open Division quarterfinal playoff game, marking the 15th time this season in which the Huskies have reached 100 points. They will face powerhouse Mater Dei, the school Jeremy Lin’s Palo Alto team edged for the CA state title back in 2006, in the semifinals on Friday.
Cover photo from http://dorothyedwards.tumblr.com.