East County Sports

Leaf flutters into coaching retirement




By Nick Pellegrino
ECS staff writer

EL CAJON – With the recent retirement of Helix High basketball coach John Singer, Foothills Christian High head coach Brad Leaf became the winningest active  coach among East County high schools.

However, the title only lasted a couple of months.On Friday, Leaf announced his retirement from the Knights as the only coach in the program’s history. No reason was given and a search for a replacement is underway.

Leaf, a former professional plaer overseas, played 17 seasons in Isreal (he was the Israeli Premier League MVP in 1990). Upon coming to San Diego County, he became the first head coach at Steele Canyon High, capturing a pair of CIF crowns in his three seasons with the Cougars.But when Foothills Christian (then called Venture Christian) announced it would start an athletic program, Leaf quickly created a dynasty.

In his 15 seasons, he captured 13 consecutive league titles over a 14-year period (the school was an independent for one season).

In the postseason, Leaf directed the program to six lower-division CIF San Diego Section championships. But when the Open Division was created, the Knights shocked many by also taking the crown to cap the 2015-16 season.

In all, Leaf owns nine CIF crowns – tied for second all-time behind Zack Jones (10) of Horizon Christian  – in 12 championship game appearances and numerous trips to the CIF Southern California regional tournaments. His career record of  406-161 marks one of the top winning percentages (,716) in CIFSDS history. He also posted 14 consecutive 20-win campaigns.

In the Grossmont Conference, Leaf’s 72-22 (767) is also among the best, including a sparkling 30-2 ledger in 2004-05, his final season at Steele Canyon.

Leaf was tabbed the CIFSDS Coach of the Year to cap the 2015-16 season. He also coached a series of all-CIF performers, including his sons Troy (2009-10) and T.J. (twice, (14-15 and 15-16), who were both named CIFSDS Players of the Year.

Other all-CIF performers include Kalob Hatcher (09-10), J’Vonte Brooks (08-09, 09-10), Luis Salgado (15-16), Jaylen Hands (16-17), Derrick Carter-Hollinger (17-18), and  Yassine Gharram (17-18.  At Steele Canyon: Richie Williams  (03-04, 04-05) and George Cunningham (04-05).

Hatcher is the CIFSDS career leader in assists. T.J. Leaf is the section’s career scoring leader, while also ranking near the top in rebounds and blocked shots. After a season at UCLA, he now plays in the NBA for the Oklahoma City Thunder after originally being drafted by the Indiana Pacers, where he started his pro career.

Brad and T.J. Leaf are one of just four father-son combos to be drafted by the same team in NBA history.

Brad played guard at the University of Evansville (Ind.) and was inducted in the Evansville Purple Aces’ Hall of Fame in 1988. In 2018, his No. 15 jersey was retired by Evansville.

Leaf on Wikipedia.

Boys Basketball Coaching Record
Season School All League             CIFSDS
2002-03 SC  16-15  3-7 t-5th/6 GSL   D-3 Runners-up
2003-04 SC  26- 5 10-0 1st/6 GSL     D-3 Champions
2004-05 SC  30- 2  9-1 1st/6 GSL     D-2 Champions
SUB-TOTAL   72-22 22-8 2 titles
2005-06 VC   5-19  4-6 4th/6 CitSo
2006-07 FC  24- 7 10-0 1st/6 CitSo   D-5 Champions
2007-08 FC  23-10  independent       D-5 Champions
2008-09 FC  27- 5  9-0 1st/6 CitSo   D-5 Champions
2009-10 FC  32- 6 10-0 1st/6 CitSo   D-5 Champions
2010-11 FC  20-12 10-0 1st/6 CitSo   D-5 Runners-up
2011-12 FC  20-12 10-0 1st/6 Sunset  D-5 Champions
2012-13 FC  20-15  8-0 1st/5 Sunset  D-5 Runners-up
2013-14 FC  20- 9  6-0 1st/5 Sunset
2014-15 FC  24- 8 11-1 1st/7 Coastal D-2 Champions 
2015-16 FC  25- 5 12-0 1st/7 Coastal Open Div Champs
2016-17 FC  24- 7  9-1 t-1st/6 Coastal
2017-18 FC  26- 7 12-0 1st/7 Coastal
2018-19 FC  24- 7  8-2 1st/6 Coastal
2019-20 FC  20-10 11-1 t-1st/7 Coastal
  Overall  406-161, .716, 9 CIFSDS championships
  League   151-19, .888, 15 league titles
SC – Steele Canyon; Leaf: school’s first varsity coach
VC – Venture Christian; Leaf: first varsity coach
FC – Foothills Christian; school changed its name
Longest League Winning Streak
67 — Foothills Christian, Brad Leaf (2006-2015)
Consecutive League Titles
13 – Foothills Christian (over 14 seasons; one season as an independent)

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