BERKELEY -- Hayward (Calif.) Moreau Catholic point guard Damari Milstead is already very advanced at running a team, finding passing lanes and open shooters, but when push came to shove last Monday, in the final two minutes of a close ballgame against San Jose (Calif.) Archbishop Mitty at the MLK Classic in Haas Pavilion, Milstead showed that he can be a scorer, too.
Milstead – playing for the first time on the California home court -- scored six points down the stretch against the Monarchs, giving him 19 on the night, powering the Mariners to a 68-67 win.
“In the third quarter, I was in foul trouble, so I was out of the game,” Milstead said. “When I was there in the fourth quarter, and it got to be five minutes left, a five-point game, me being the point guard, I have to win that type of game. I have to control the floor. We were down by one, I saw a guy on me, so I tried to score and make that play happen.”
Milstead drove the lane and drew the foul, hitting both of his free throws to put Moreau Catholic on top.
Milstead has been much more confident – and effective – as a driver this season, as evidenced by his two and-one plays over the course of the game – both of which he cashed in on.
“I’ve been in the weight room a lot more,” Milstead said. “I feel like I’m a lot stronger. I’ve been playing with a lot of bigger players, so I’m more confident in taking contact, and keeping going.”
Once defenders started focusing on four-star California commit Oscar Frayer -- who hit three early three-pointers – Milstead took over, going 7-for-13 from the field.
“Oscar was going in the beginning, so when they went to focus in on him, now it’s my turn to come in and make some plays happen,” Milstead said. “We’ve got a one-two punch.”
Could that one-two punch play together at the next level? The Golden Bears have offered Milstead, and sources say that head coach Cuonzo Martin is enamored with the sophomore point guard’s toughness and his ability to run a team.
There are also several other schools in the mix, with Washington State recently joining the fray, and Stanford, USC and Creighton also heavily interested.
“USC is very interested, now, and Washington State offered recently,” Milstead said. “Oregon State has been coming recently, and the rest of the Pac-12. It feels kind of nice now. All that hard work is paying off.”
Cal, of course, was the first school to come calling from the Pac-12.
“I talk to them two times a month, something like that,” Milstead said. “I come over here, come to games all the time. They’re just some great guys.”
Milstead had played at Cal before – but on the floors at the Recreational Sports Facility, and never on the main court at Haas Pavilion. Like teammate Frayer, it was a special moment.
“It feels good,” Milstead said. “I feel really confident with my jump shooting on this court,” Milstead said, before smiling, and acceding that he liked the blue and gold shooting background.
Milstead doesn’t have any target date for when he wants to make a decision on his collegiate future, but he does have an idea of what he’s looking for.
“I want to make a decision based on what’s the best fit, and a place where I feel like I can really fit in,” Milstead said. “I want to find a place that feels like home.”
As for Cal?
“It’s close to home, and it’s a great place,” Milstead smiled.