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To improve Cabrillo’s dribbling and ball-handling for the upcoming basketball season, Conquistadores head coach C.J. Simmons decided to bust out the lazer for his team – the Lazer 900 powered by Handle Fitness.  

Simmons himself purchased the electronic machine that was created in 2014 by Curtis Smith, a renowned NBA skills trainer who has worked out with players on the Dallas Mavericks.

Simmons cites CHS’s quarterfinal loss to Santa Fe Springs St. Paul last season as one of the main reasons behind this purchase.

Simmons had his guards busily training in front of the machine during a Thursday morning practice.

“When I look back at it, LeAndrew Knight had the ball 85 percent of the time and the other guards weren’t quite as comfortable with dribbling. So that was one of those things that triggered for us this year,” Simmons said. “We’ve been doing a lot of fundamental stuff during the summer. So when I saw this machine, I just thought about our guards and that quarterfinal game. Some of the turnovers were from things in that nature (ball-handling).

"I felt that if I could get them to watch themselves and grade themselves on this machine, then their confidence with handling the ball can grow.”

The machine has the appearance of a near 7-foot tall arcade kiosk. Simmons says, “It’s a big video game for them and it reminds you of ‘Guitar Hero’ – but it’s for basketball.”

The Lazer 900 is considered a cardiovascular trainer, but requires a basketball to get the best workout. It’s designed to track every movement in the body plus grades each user on their consistency of dribbling and following the instructions on the computer screen.

“It’s a dribbling machine. But it helps kids with efficiency in dribbling on time and following/thinking while keeping your head up the whole time,” Simmons said. “There are 37 different workouts on here and a cardio session as well. On each workout, you want to try to get five stars. But it’s grading you to see your efficiency and how much you’re on pace.

“It’s a great workout and it’s a core workout. It’s a machine that benefits guards, but I think our one-through-five positions can really benefit and help step up their handling with this machine. It’s been great for us.”

Knight, the reigning 2017 Lee Central Coast News Most Valuable Player, is one Conquistador who has become enamored with the new technology inside the CHS gym.

“I love it,” Knight said. “I used it yesterday for an hour-and-a-half. It’s addicting. You want to get your handles better. It gets your attention and makes you keep going. I’m going to use it as much as I can. Just after one day, I felt like my handles got way better.”

While Simmons brought the equipment in for his team to use, he’s welcomed the idea of allowing CHS girls basketball head coach Jared McCune and his team to utilize the machine.

Simmons said he believes Cabrillo is the only Central Coast high school that has the Lazer 900, but CHS isn’t the only institution across the nation that uses the state-of-the-art technology.

“When I saw it through researching on social media, I reached out to Smith and he said more than 30 NCAA Division I programs have it and he has four to five NBA programs that are on the Lazer as well,” Simmons said. “Hopefully, this will give coaches an idea to help their kids out.”

Assistant college coaches at the Division I level – including ones sitting courtside in the Pac-12, Big East and Big 12 conferences – have given their praise about the product on the Handle Fitness website.    

Simmons concludes that he wished the Lazer 900 existed during the time he played basketball for the Conqs.

“Absolutely,” Simmons said. “The things these kids have now, I wish we had this when we played.”

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Sports Reporter