Jerry Hernandez just completed his 22nd season as the head men’s basketball coach at Irvine Valley College and 32nd collegiate coaching campaign. The Lasers have had four of the best seasons in program history recently under Hernandez.
IVC finished with an overall record of 27-5 during the 2008-09 season. The 27 wins was a school record. The team was second in the Orange Empire Conference, ranked as one of the top teams in the state and reached the regional finals of the Southern California Regional Playoffs.
In 2009-10, Irvine Valley reached the state tournament for the first time in school history. IVC won 26 games, was ranked in the top three in the state for most of the season and finished second in the Orange Empire Conference.
In 2010-11, Irvine Valley again made the regional finals, winning at No. 1 Mt. San Antonio to get there, and finished with a record of 23-8 overall. Sophomore forward Travis Fulton was named first team all-state, just the fifth Laser to earn that honor.
In 2011-12, Irvine Valley put together a 22-7 mark and a third-place finish in the conference. The Lasers once again made the playoffs.
Four seasons ago, Irvine Valley also reached a milestone. It was ranked No. 1 in the state for the first time in program history in December of 2013. IVC finished with a record of 25-5 last year.
Two seasons ago, Irvine Valley finished second in the Orange Empire Conference and had a record of 16-11 overall. Five players moved on to continue their basketball careers at four-year schools.
Nineteen years ago, Hernandez led the Lasers to a record of 26-8 and their first-ever Orange Empire Conference title. That year Irvine Valley was ranked ninth in the final California state poll.
Hernandez has helped IVC to the playoffs in all but six of the 21 years he has been in charge of the program and his team’s have won 20 or more games 10 times. After 21 seasons Laser teams under Hernandez are 425-245. Irvine Valley teams have been known for their attention to detail, hustling play and defensive prowess. As a result IVC teams have led the conference in either scoring defense or field goal percentage defense in 10 of Hernandez’s 21 years at the helm.
IVC and Hernandez have strong reputations for being one of the better California community colleges and coaches in the state.
More than 90 players have received scholarships at four-year colleges, with nearly 35 of them going to Division I institutions. The last to head off to Division I schools were post player Andrew Bastien (Utah Valley) from the 202-15, forward Zack Mills (Sacramento State) and forward Michael Bolden (Cal Poly) from the 2012-13 team, forward Travis Fulton (Pacific), forward Joe Eberhard (Sacramento State) and forward Ephraim Ekanem (Northern Arizona) from the 2010-11 team, guard/forward Durrell Norman (Northern Arizona) from the 2009-10 squad and guard Jeff Ledbetter (Idaho) from the 2008-09 team.
Four former IVC players, Commander King (Northern Arizona), Daryl Todd (Fairleigh Dickinson), Mike Ahmad (Utah State) and Fulton (Pacific) have competed in the NCAA Tournament. And another former standout Laser player under Hernandez, J.C. Timmons, helped lead UC Davis to the NCAA Division II title in 1998. Under Hernandez’s guidance, Irvine Valley has developed the respect of universities as a place to recruit quality student athletes.
Hernandez got his start in coaching at the high school level, working at Paramount, Sonora and Tustin. After graduating from Cal State University, Fullerton in 1984, he became an assistant coach at Cerritos College. Hernandez worked under hall of fame coach Jack Bogdanovich from 1985-89. He was very familiar with the program, having played at Cerritos from 1978-80. After the 1987 season Hernandez assumed co-head coaching responsibilities with the Cerritos women’s team. During this time, Hernandez worked on his master’s degree, which he received from Azusa Pacific University in 1989.
Hernandez returned to the Cerritos men’s team as an assistant when the Falcons won state championships in 1989 and 1992. He then left to become the top assistant coach at Cal Poly Pomona in 1993. Hernandez was the recruiting coordinator and handled defensive coaching duties there. In 1994, Hernandez returned to join Bogdanovich’s staff at Cerritos for a third stint. The Falcons posted a 32-2 record that season.
At the end of that season Hernandez was picked to become the new Irvine Valley College coach. He replaced coaching legend Bill Mulligan.
Hernandez and his wife, Liz, reside in Anaheim Hills with their two sons — Anthony and Daniel. Anthony, a point guard, just finished his sophomore season at IVC, Daniel, a guard, was a freshman at IVC this season.