Culinary arts teacher Greg Azevedo believes the ingredients are in place for a championship-caliber girls basketball team at Manteca High
The St. Mary’s product from Stockton has been hired by athletic director Bill Slikker to take over the Buffaloes program. Azevedo said he was drawn by Manteca’s culture of success and that he and Slikker — a former basketball coach — share much of the same philosophies.
“It seemed to be a perfect match,” Azevedo said. He is bringing in an entirely new staff that will include coaches from the Manteca area.
“I’ve been looking for the right place to settle into,” he added. “I’m really looking forward to making a great impact and I want to stay for a minimum of a decade.”
Predecessor Ryan Bono stepped down after four successful seasons in which the Buffaloes compiled a 74- 39 record and captured two Valley Oak League titles. He remains at the school as a special needs teacher.
Azevedo, 50, teaches both culinary arts and physical education at Venture Academy in Stockton, where he served as head girls basketball coach for two years. In 2015-16, the Azevedo-led Mustangs finished 24-7, reached the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV semifinals and made an appearance in the California Interscholastic Federation NorCal Regional. The following season, Venture went 17-11 and earned the Central California Athletic Alliance title.
Azevedo began coaching at the youth level when his children got involved with sports. It was after he connected with Que Ngo and the Stockton Mustangs Amateur Athletic Union program that his passion for coaching was ignited. He spent five seasons with the Mustangs and eventually joined Brookside Christian as an assistant the year after Ngo led the school’s girls team to the CIF State Division V championship in 2011-12.
“It was quite an experience,” Azevedo said. “I got the full potential of rounding out my coaching abilities through coach Que and his programs. I sought out the best teachers and programs to get involved with to make sure my daughters get the best opportunities.”
His daughter, Gabriella Azevedo, is currently a junior and will join him for his inaugural season at Manteca. She sat out this past year after playing two seasons with powerhouse St. Mary’s. Greg Azevedo was part of the St. Mary’s coaching staff during her time there.
Gabriella will team up with the likes of three-time All-VOL first-team selection Kyaira Jacobs, who will also be a senior next year.
Coach Azevedo admits he knows little about his new team, in part because he was previously coaching in Stockton. Shelter-in-place restrictions have prevented him from having face-to-face meetings with the athletes, but he plans to reach out soon.
Azevedo said he will cater his system to the talent available to him and will adapt to each player according to their skill levels.
“Our program is going to offer proper fundamental training and advanced training with the core of ‘A’ coaches I’ve assembled,” Azevedo said. “The ultimate goal is to be a state contender for many years. The next level is what I’m here to offer, and I think we have a shot with the coach staff I’ve put together.”