SMALL COLLEGE BASKETBALL'S NEW BEACONby HARRY CUMMINS
It's game night on America's most beautiful cliff-top campus.
A stream of rental cars belonging to NBA scouts pass thru Point Loma Nazarene University's security check stop and wind their way down to Golden Gymnasium. If its Thursday night and they arrive early, some may wish to pay $5 for the weekly 'Sunset Tour' of this post-card campus, which includes dinner in the student dinning hall and a prime viewing spot over-looking the Pacific to witness sea lions frolic in a classic California sunset.
When nature turns off the the lights, its time for the indoor Sea Lions to play. Aided by his talented teammates, 6'8" Jr. transfer Daulton Hommes is about to illuminate the under appreciated world of small college basketball in this country.
You may have seen Hommes play last January at Concordia University in Portland,Oregon, where he scored 24 points as a "walk on" at Western Washington University. Maybe you saw him briefly at Lynden Christian High School in Washington, where he played football and basketball before twice tearing his ACL and loosing 3 years of playing time. Or maybe you caught Hommes playing last August in an annual NBA pro-am tournament in Tacoma, hosted by Isaiah Thomas, that included Zack Levine, Jamal Crawford and Dejounte Murray. Playing as a late roster fill-in, he scored 36 points and had 12 rebounds in his first game.
Hommes story is a confounding, non-traditional, basketball odyssey with strong ties to the Pacific Northwest. His current coach at PLNU, Ryan Looney, is remembered as the 2009-10 GNAC Coach of the Year at Seattle Pacific University, where he spent 7 seasons. In 2015, a somewhat unknown high school athlete, along with his dad, paid a visit to Looney's office in Seattle, hoping to net a scholarship offer. Looney, coming off a 24-8 season with many returning players, had no scholarships to offer Daulton Hommes and his father.
After a 2017-18 season at WWU, where he averaged 18.1 ppg and was named 1st team All-GNAC, Hommes decided he wanted to transfer and once again called Looney, who was now the head coach of NCAA D-2 Point Loma Nazarene. By now, Looney had heard stories about this kid from Lynden, Wa. who had grown 7 inches and had spent lots of time in the weight room since their last encounter. "I was smart enough the second time around to say yes" Looney recently told the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Earlier this summer, before the start of the current basketball season, Hommes paired up with Boston Celtics star Gordon Hayward for one-on-one daily workouts. Hayward has a home in San Diego and was looking for someone of similar size and skill level locally to help him recover from a devastating injury of his own. Hayward later told the Boston Globe," this kid just came out of nowhere and he is really, really good."
Hommes is currently averaging 21.8 points a game for the Sea Lions of the PacWest Conference. He possesses a feathery outside touch for a big man, connecting on nearly half of his 3 point attempts. He easily blows by bigger players for thundering dunks. Hommes says his favorite Bible text is from Isaiah: "They will grow wings like eagles..and they will run.. and not be weary."
The game-night traffic jams entering this secluded ocean-view campus are expanding exponentially. There is a new tower of light replacing the Old Point Loma Lighthouse just down the street and the spotlight is luminous. The NBA is watching.