East Hamilton basketball star Cade Pendleton signs with UC San Diego – Chattanooga Times Free Press

Just as the University of California San Diego men’s basketball program is getting a chance to enter the Division I ranks, so will Cade Pendleton.

The 6-foot-10 senior from East Hamilton has signed with UC San Diego, a decision Pendleton celebrated with a ceremony Wednesday, and he’ll join the Tritons as they seek to make a name for themselves at the NCAA’s highest level of competition.

The Tritons have reached the NCAA tournament quarterfinals in Division III (1991) and Division II (2016, 2017), and they’ve made multiple tourney appearances at both of those levels. After finishing their time in D-II with a 30-1 record in the 2019-20 season — when the coronavirus pandemic canceled the NCAA tournaments — the Trions transitioned to D-I and the Big West Conference the following season.

“I want to win championships,” Pendleton said. “I want a Big West championship and to help take them to March Madness one day. If I am a big scoring piece or the sixth man, I just want to provide a spark and championship edge. I am excited to grow and adapt and truly believe my second year is the one where I will really take off.”

UCSD is coached by Eric Olen, who has a 185-86 overall record in eight seasons. The Tritons won’t be eligible to compete in the NCAA tournament until the reclassification period ends in 2024, which would be Pendleton’s sophomore season if he doesn’t redshirt.

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East Hamilton basketball player Cade Pendleton

At East Hamilton, Pendleton cemented his legacy with the TSSAA Class AAA Hurricanes as a scorer at all three levels and by dominating the block defensively. In February, he helped the program to its first district tournament championship, and the Hurricanes were 32-3 at home his final two seasons.

He averaged 16 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks per game as a senior, when he shot 54% from the field, 43% from 3-point range and 78% on free throws.

“Cade is really built for the next level and has such an extremely high ceiling,” said East Hamilton coach Andy Webb, who took over the program ahead of Pendleton’s sophomore season. “I have never seen a more selfless kid. He put his college decision on hold and said all he cared about was having a great senior season.

“He had an unbelievable year, which was highlighted by cutting down the nets in his own gym. He led our program and put it on his back to be honest. He really is a rare breed, and we are so proud of him.”

Contact Patrick MacCoon at pmaccoon@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon.