Next Level Watch


Santa Barbara athletes are all over the place. So many that it’s hard to keep up with. This is a place to keep tabs on our local athletes that have gone on to play at a higher level outside of the community.

Each week publishes running updates, news, and notes following our locally connected athletes making waves elsewhere.

Check back here routinely to find out who’s doing what. If you have a news tip, feel free to email us at


Iro released by Toronto FC

It’s one Gaucho soccer player in and one out at Major League Soccer’s Toronto FC.

When Toronto picked UCSB playmaking midfielder Luis Silva as the No. 4 overall pick in the league’s SuperDraft two weeks ago, it gave the team three Gauchos: center back Andy Iro and midfielder Eric Avila being the other two.

That number was reduced to two last week when Toronto waived Iro.

Iro was the sixth overall pick by the Columbus Crew in the 2008 SuperDraft. He was traded to Toronto last season.

In other MLS news involving former UCSB players, DC United midfielder Chris Pontius continues his recovery from a broken leg suffered last September and is slated to begin training with the club in early March.

Pontius had bone marrow removed from his hip and injected into his broken tibia, according to the web site DCist.

Pontius is doing rehab on an AlterG treadmill, and he hopes to start doing drills with the team during its training in Florida.

Nelson heating up at Oregon State

Santa Barbara High grad Roberto Nelson is averaging 10.1 points per game for the Beavers this season in 20 games. The 10.1 ppg is fourth-best on the team, and highest of any bench player. The sophomore is also among the team leaders in assists, and is shooting nearly 40 percent from beyond the arc. The Beavers are 3-5 in Pac-12 play so far this season after two recent wins over USC and UCLA.

Clark leading No. 2 UC Irvine in young season

Santa Barbara High grad Carson Clark recently led his Anteaters to a season-opening title at the UCSB/Asics Invitational. The 6-foot-5 outside hitter, who was a second-team All-American last season and first-team All-American as a sophomore, is primed for a huge senior year.

Clark produced a match-high 13 kills in the Anteaters’ sweep over San Diego this weekend. After seven matches this season, Clark is tied for the team lead in kills with 94 and service aces with 11, and is the team’s digs leader with 46.

Stone makes NBA debut with Nuggets

Dos Pueblos grad Julyan Stone made his NBA debut against the New Jersey Nets on January 11. In six minutes of court time, Stone was able to collect three assists and a rebound. Stone has since played in another game but has yet to attempt a field goal.  The Nuggets play three times this week: Wednesday at Sacramento, Friday vs. the Raptors, and Sunday vs. the Los Angeles Clippers.

Spilborghs signs with Indians

Ryan Spilborghs signed a minor-league deal with the Cleveland Indians late last week. Spilborghs, who was born in Santa Barbara and played at Santa Barbara High and UCSB, had been with the Colorado Rockies organization for his entire professional career up to this point. Spilborghs played seven seasons for the Rockies. In 1561 career atbats, Spilborghs holds a .272 batting average. The Indians, who went 80-82 in 2011, hold spring training in Goodyear, Arizona.