The Swish League Pro-Am is underway at La Jolla Country Day School and the Sons of Montezuma were there to cover it all.
Team A.L.A. faced off against Team Athletes vs ALS in one of Saturday’s marquee matchups. Team A.L.A features former SDSU player and current Southwestern College basketball head coach, Tyrone Shelley. While most of the Aztec roster was not suited up at Swish this opening weekend, Chad Baker-Mazara was the lone rotational player for the Aztecs who competed, playing for a short-handed A.L.A. team.
Chad’s performance was a tale of two halves. He struggled to find any rhythm or consistency with his shot in the 1st half and only finished with 6 points. In the 2nd half, CBM exploded for 13 points and 19 for the game. Such has been the journey for CBM as an Aztec where he’s shown flashes of elite scoring like when he scorched Creighton for 15 1st half points in the NCAA tourney game but also had several games where he was missing in action.
Aside from the inconsistency, Chad showed some of the characteristics that make him a special player and a real joy to watch.
Chad told a sports reporter last season that he would prefer to set up teammates with a great assist than to score the basket himself. Chad demonstrated his unselfishness on Saturday by consistently finding unguarded teammates and delivering accurate passes for wide open shots. With the number of offensive weapons SDSU will have at their disposal next season, the team’s success will depend on how well they share the ball and find open teammates.
There is a reason he goes by Chad Buckets on Instagram- the dude can fill it up in a hurry. CBM is a rhythm shooter and when he’s in a rhythm, give the man the ball and get out of the way. In the clip below he hits 5 points in 30 seconds on back-to-back possessions: an isolation 3 and a shot fake-drive to the hoop. He also hit a wide open 3 that touched nothing but nylon.
Scoring burst and smooth lefty stroke. Chad Buckets Mazara. He scored 5 points in 30 seconds. 1st an iso 3 and then a pump fake-drive to the hoop
CBM is a great ball handler for his 6’ 7’’ frame and longer wingspan. In the video below, he glides like a gazelle in transition juking the defender at midcourt, taking off a few steps inside the free throw line and flushing it down with both hands. Next, he hits his defender with a cross, tween, dribble, dribble, cross, pivot fade away shot and draws contact because his defender can’t find the ball in the blur. Finally, he drives right using his non-dominant hand and pulls up a step early watching his defender fly by while he lays it in.
CBM’s ball handling allows him to get by defenders into the lane where he can finish at the hoop or draw a foul. He’s so dangerous in transition too.
Opportunity For “Growth”
Chad showed many qualities that make him a special player, but also revealed a weakness he can work on that will help his game get to the next level. This weakness will not be solved in the Jacobs Jam Center though, but more likely at one of the many eateries on the SDSU campus.
Chad had difficulty guarding bigger, stronger players in the post at Swish League and was bodied on a few occasions down low. Chad’s slender build reminds me of the story of another college basketball player who struggled to gain weight early in his college career: National Champion with the Baylor Bears and recent transfer to Illinois, Matthew Mayer. This was Mayer’s player card his freshman year at Baylor.
Mayer added 25 pounds between his sophomore and junior year. The secret to the weight gain he revealed in an interview with SicEm365—a Baylor Bears sports media outlet in 2021—was eating 10 pieces of Long John Silver’s fish at each meal for 6 weeks. Check it out at (1:14) in the video below.
I’m not sure that Long John Silver’s is still in business, but there is a Rubio’s Coastal Grill at the East Commons on the SDSU campus. Maybe Chad can get an NIL deal with Rubio’s so that he has access to all of the free fish tacos he can eat? Putting on some weight is going to help Chad to be able to better absorb contact down low when he has to guard or switch on to a bigger player.
Aztec fans in attendance on Saturday were hoping to see more SDSU players at the Swish League. This should change after July 5th when all of the team is back on campus practicing together. CBM showed why he’s going to be an important part of the 2022-2023 Aztec roster and why still he has room to keep growing as a player.
Watch below, for a portion of our interview with Swish Founder & CEO, Coach Ku. The full audio of the interview ca be found here or wherever you listen to your podcasts.