Gaucho Water Polo Signs Seven To National Letters of Intent

Feb. 19, 2009

Jay Lovero

Evan Dellinger

Scott Bishop

Dylan Baliani

Matt Puig

John Mikuzis

Chris Dyer

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The UC Santa Barbara men's water polo team has signed seven student-athletes to National Letters of Intent it was announced by head coach Wolf Wigo. Jay Lovero (Santa Ana, Calif./Foothill HS), Evan Dellinger (Los Altos Hills, Calif./St. Francis HS), Scott Bishop (Los Altos Hills, Calif./Mountain View HS), Dylan Baliani (Murrietta, Calif./Murrietta Valley HS), Matt Puig (Wildomar, Calif./Murrietta Valley HS), John Mikuzis (Naperville, Ill./Nequa Valley HS) and Chris Dyer (Moraga, Calif./Campolindo HS) are all expected to join the Gauchos for the fall 2009 season.

"This recruit class has the most depth of quality players in recent history," head coach Wolf Wigo said. "They are all capable of being standout players for UCSB."

Jay Lovero, a goalkeeper, hails from Foothill High School. Lovero was the 2008-09 CIF South Section Division I Co-Player of the Year and the Sea View League Co-Player of the Year. He is a First Team Southern California All-American and First Team California All-American. He was also named to the Orange County Register All-County Team. Lovero set a school record for saves in a single season and was named Foothill's Defensive MVP. As a junior, he was the Sea View League Player of the Year, Second Team All-CIF and a Fifth Team NISCA All-American.

Lovero is a member of SoCal Water Polo Club, which won gold at the 2004, 2006 and 2008 National Junior Olympics. As a 16 and under, he earned MVP honors at the Junior Olympics.

"Jay is the top goalkeeper in the nation coming out of high school. He is very athletic and explosive in the cage. He will immediately challenge Fraser Bunn and Myles Christian for playing time," Wigo said.

Evan Dellinger currently attends St. Francis High School (Mountain View) where he is a two-time All-Western Catholic Athletic League selection and two-time All-Central Coast Section honoree, earning first team accolades as a junior and second team honors this past fall. He is a two-time All-San Jose Mercury News selection and was a Second Team All-NorCal pick. In 2008, he earned Sixth Team All-California All-American honors. Dellinger is also a member of Stanford Water Polo Club.

"Evan is a very strong player with a hard, accurate shot who has tremendous scoring ability. He has strong club experience, as well as high school, and will be an impact player for us," Wigo said.

Scott Bishop hails from Mountain View High School where he is a two-time First Team All-Santa Clara Valley Athletic League selection. During the fall, he earned First Team All-Central Coast Section honors and was Mountain View's team captain and Most Valuable Player. Bishop is a member of the Pacific Zone Team and also plays for Pacific Water Polo Division I & II Premier League teams. Like Dellinger, he is a member of Stanford Water Polo Club. Not just a standout in the pool, Bishop has earned Academic All-American accolades. He is the brother of current Gaucho water polo player Brian Bishop.

"Scott is a very fast and smart two-meter defender. He will be able to defend top attackers on opposing teams as well as be a threat on the offensive end."

Dylan Baliani comes to UCSB via Murrietta Valley High School. He is a Fifth Team All-California All-American and Third Team All-SoCal selection. Baliani earned First Team All-CIF Southern Section honors this past season and was an All-Valley First Team and First Team All-Southwestern League honoree. He has also been inducted into Murrietta Valley's Hall of Fame. Baliani additionally plays for Elite Water Polo Club and is a member of the SoPac Junior Zone Team.

"Dylan is a very strong, physical player, but is also very athletic and has a tremendous upside," Wigo said.

Matt Puig also hails from Murrietta Valley High School where he has twice earned All-CIF Southern Section First Team honors. Puig is a two-time All-Valley First Team pick and two-time First Team All-Southwestern League selection. He was picked to the All-SoCal Fourth Team and was a Sixth Team All-California All-American. He was named to the SoPac Junior Zone Team and played for the Cadet National Team. Puig plays club with Elite Water Polo. A leader in the pool and out, he was the varsity team captain and is Murrietta Valley's Associated Student Body Vice President.

"Matt is a very strong, explosive player who can be a dominant two-meter presence or play utility," Wigo said.

John Mikuzis is the lone out-of-state signee, hailing from Nequa Valley High School in Illinois. Mikuzis was named Illinois' Offensive Player of the Year and was a three-time First Team All-Sectional, All-State and team MVP honoree. He was named a NISCA (National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association) Second Team All-American. Mikuzis also plays with Windy City Water Polo Club. On the national level, Mikuzis is on the USA Junior National Training Team and was a two-year member of the Futures/Cadet Team. He spent two years on the USA National Development Team and is a member of the Midwest Zone Team.

"John has experience in the National Development program and has trained consistently with the top players in the country. He has an excellent combination of size, speed and strength, which gives him the ability to be a strong two-meter player as well as utility," Wigo said.

Chris Dyer comes to UCSB via Campolindo High School. As a senior, Dyer earned Second Team All-North Coast Section honors in addition to being named First Team All-Diablo Foothill Athletic League and Campolindo High School's team MVP. He was a Third Team NISCA All-American, Fourth Team All-California/Hawaii honoree and First Team All-NCS selection as a junior. He also earned Second Team All-NorCal honors, First Team All-DFAL and team MVP accolades as a junior. Dyer plays club with Diablo Water Polo Club. Also a standout in basketball, he was named Campolindo's Co-MVP and earned Second Team All-DFAL.

"Chris played varsity basketball for his high school for four years and is a gifted athlete. He has tremendous upside and how fast he can adjust to the college game may determine how our team places in the next two years. Chris is an excellent passer as well as shooter and has good speed," Wigo said.

These seven student-athletes will join a Gaucho team that went 17-11 in 2008 and 4-4 in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play. UCSB finished fifth in the conference and ended the season with a No. 6 national ranking.

UCSB - a nationally recognized university in both academic and athletic excellence - is located on the central coast of California in a picturesque campus and community setting on the Pacific Ocean. Each year over 450 Division 1 Gaucho student-athletes compete for national championships, succeed in the classroom and give back to the community.

As part of the BE Great initiative, UCSB Athletics is proud to promote the celebration of Black History Month. For reflections by Gaucho student-athletes on this month's celebration and for more information, click here.

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