THE NEXT LEVEL: Taylor Racich returns to town to face Gauchos

The Racich family and friends figure to be out in force at the Thunderdome on Wednesday night to see Taylor Racich return to town with her Pepperdine team to play against UCSB in a nonconference women’s volleyball match.

Racich, a former All-CIF player at Dos Pueblos, is a freshman outside hitter for the Waves. She is coming off the first double-double in her college career, recording 13 kills and 13 digs in a five-set loss against St. Mary’s. She also had a career-best seven blocks.

MEDIA DARLINGS: Monday was media day for NBA teams and three local players took part in the madness with their respective teams.

In Indianapolis, Orlando Johnson, UCSB’s all-time leading scorer, met the media mob as a rookie with the Indiana Pacers. Meanwhile, in El Segundo, his Gaucho teammate, Greg Somogyi, was celebrating his 23rd birthday at the Lakers’ media day. At 7-3, Somogyi is the tallest player on the Lakers’ training camp roster.

Before they started training camp, the Pacers played paintball as a team-chemistry building activity. Johnson took some hits and rookie abuse from the veterans. Here is video of OJ talking about the experience.

In Denver, former Dos Pueblos High star Julyan Stone took part in the Nuggets’ media day festivities.
Tbe 6-6 Stone, the all-time assist leader at University Texas-El Paso, told the online site SB Nation he worked hard during the summer to recover from an injury.

“I’m going to start shooting now,” he said. “My recovery has gone a lot better because of all the work I have been doing and we have a great (training) staff. I’m thinking December maybe (for a return to the court).”

Stone signed a free-agent contract with the Nuggets last year after graduating from UTEP.
He said he’s been working on becoming a better shooter.

“I’ve really been working on my shooting and knocking down open shots consistently. My game has evolved, but it definitely has a lot more room to grow,” he said. “I had big hopes this summer, but I feel like everything I’ve been through, the adversity has made me who I am. This is just something I’m learning from and I’m going to get better.”

SPIKING IN FRENCH: Santa Barbara High alum Carson Clark, who led UC Irvine to a pair of NCAA men’s volleyball championships, is playing professionally in France with the club Montpellier Volley in the country’s top league.