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Torrey Pines High’s Nick Herrmann dies at 20 from cancer

Torrey Pines High School’s Nick Herrmann
Torrey Pines High School’s Nick Herrmann becomes emotional after the team’s win against Cathedral Catholic High in the San Diego Open Division title game on June 12, 2021.
(Kristian Carreon / For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Committed to Cal State Northridge, Torrey Pines’ Nick Herrmann never got the chance to play basketball there

He made arguably the biggest shot in the history of the CIF San Diego Section basketball playoffs.

With the score tied and a half-second remaining in the game, Nick Herrmann came off a screen, took a pass, and swished a 30-foot jump shot, giving Torrey Pines High a 63-60 win over Cathedral Catholic in the 2020-21 San Diego Section Open Division championship game.

Saturday morning, Herrmann passed away at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego after a second battle with cancer. He was 20.

“Jake Gilliam (an assistant coach at Torrey Pines) and I were with Nick from about 1-4 p.m. Friday,” said Torrey Pines basketball coach John Olive.

“He was alert and engaged. We were reminiscing about Torrey Pines basketball and some of the great players we’ve gone against.

“So, while we knew this could happen, it was still shocking.

“Nick was the essence of a Torrey Pines player and student. He was driven like very few people I’ve ever known. His workouts, the time he put in on his game, were legendary. He made himself a player.

“He was a leader, a player who just refused to lose.”

Gilliam, a survivor of testicular cancer, was perhaps Herrmann’s best friend.

“As an older brother figure, a coach, I was supposed to teach you, but I’ve learned more from you than I could ever teach,” Gilliam said on a Facebook post.

“Your purpose on this earth was to make an impact, using two things: Your faith and the game we love. My friend, you did both of those to the best of your ability and beyond.

“I know you’re in a better place now, and you went with peace because your time on the Earth, although was too short, left a tremendous impact on so many.”

In 2018, Herrmann was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a cancerous tumor in his left leg.

According to the American Cancer Society, the survival rate beyond five years for osteosarcoma patients is 30 percent.

He missed the entire 2018-19 high school season, spending 70 days in the hospital, undergoing numerous surgeries.

Doctors took 6 inches of his fibula and he had 44 staples in his left leg.

He spent months in a hip-to-foot cast

The 6-foot-2 Herrmann returned cancer free, averaging 18.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.2 steals a game as a senior, leading the Falcons to a 30-1 season, losing 68-65 to Etiwanda in the Southern California championship game.

Herrmann had 30 points in the win over Cathedral Catholic, scoring 15 in the fourth quarter, making 14 of 15 free throws.

He had 24 points and seven rebounds against Etiwanda.

A first-team All-CIF selection, he signed to play at Cal State Northridge.

The day after he committed to the Matadors, he was informed by doctors the cancer had returned.

Matadors coach Trent Johnson held a scholarship for Herrmann, and had been checking on him regularly, making numerous visits to San Diego.

Griffin Jimenez, an assistant coach at Torrey Pines and one of Herrmann’s best friends, said Johnson plans to keep a locker for Nick with his No. 1 hanging inside.

“Nick went up to Northridge in April and told coach Johnson he should give his scholarship to another player,” Jimenez said. “Coach Johnson told Nick ‘Your scholarship goes nowhere.’ ”

Herrmann entered the hospital a second time on July 17, was in the ICU from Sunday to Thursday when he was moved to the oncology ward.

“Torrey Pines was so important to Nick,” Jimenez said. “We want some good to come out of this.

“We want to continue his legacy.”

Jimenez said the Torrey Pines basketball family is working on a scholarship fund.

People can look for details on torreypinesbasketball.com or tphs_basketball on Twitter.

Services are pending.


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