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January 28, 2009 > Final 'Diamon Center Nights'

Final 'Diamon Center Nights'

By Biff Jones

Third and last of the "Diamon Center Nights" will be held on Thursday, Feb. 5, in McKeon Pavilion on the campus of St. Mary's College (SMC) in Moraga.

Diamon Center is a section in the stands at McKeon set aside for junior high and high school youths, and is named after Diamon Simpson, a 6'7" senior forward on the St. Mary's varsity roster.

Simpson and SMC, in conjunction with Chris Major, founder and president of Hayward Youth Academy (HYA), help educate youths on the importance of combining athletics with academics while in their pre-teens and teens, so that they can get into college and achieve their goals in life.

Simpson, raised in Hayward by a single mother, attended Hayward High. He periodically makes stops at Hayward elementary schools to talk to the students about the importance of working hard and keeping their grades up, early in life.

SMC Men's opponent in the final "Diamon Center Nights" will be West Coast Conference (WCC) rival, San Francisco Dons. The SMC Gaels are currently 5-0 in WCC play, 16-1 overall, and hold the nation's longest winning streak in men's NCAA Division I play at 15 in a row.

Simpson has become the career leader at SMC in rebounds and blocked shots, and, along with 6'10" teammate center Omar Samhan, is the nation's leading rebounding duo. To go along with this pair, Head Coach Randy Bennett has five Australians on the SMC squad, including star sophomore point guard, Patty Mills, an Australian Olympian in last summer's Beijing Olympics.

For more information on HYA, open to youths, ages 9-15, contact Chris Major at 510-677-5653, or e-mail .

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