A strange year of interaction for three NAIA Universities;

  1. University of Antelope Valley
  2. Dickerson State University
  3. William Jessup University. 

Let start with the U of Antelope Valley.  The head coach for the first year men’s basketball team was left go after a team year that exceeded all expectations.  Coach Rogers popped up at William Jessup University in NoCal in a couple weeks and is said to be very happy with the outcome and his future.

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Dickerson State university last year signed Brandon Ruffin, Antelope Valley College to a track scholarship with the agreement that he could walk on at the basketball program.  Ruffin was named as the player of the week both for the track program and the basketball program and was the BB leading scorer for a number of games. 

Suddenly, he announced that he  has transferred to William Jessup University this year on a track scholarship.  Very interesting.


And I thought that JUCO basketball was the most unique!

As this article states, a large number of top Professional basketball players have decided not to play in the Olympics this year.  Knowing what medical professional “don’t know” about Zika I don’t blame players in child bearing age about not going.  Microcephaly is nothing to play with. 

One of Antelope Valley’s NBA basketball players, Paul George is not one of them.  He is definitely going to play Olympic basketball this year for some old fashion reasons like;  to represent my country.  Thanks Paul, we appreciate it. 

George ready to go in Rio

By: Tim Bontemps The Washington Post


OAKLAND – As Team USA Managing Director Jerry Colangelo and Coach Mike Krzyzewski crafted the U.S. men’s basketball roster this spring for the upcoming Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, a series of high-profile players declined to make themselves available.

LeBron James decided he’d had enough after playing on three straight Olympic teams and in six straight NBA Finals. Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook and James Harden all joined him on the sidelines, while other stars, including Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, were unavailable because of injuries.

As multiple big-name athletes have backed out of the Games for reasons ranging from fatigue to health fears, it would not have been at all surprising had Indiana Pacers star Paul George done the same. After all, no one better knows the potentially devastating cost of even a few extra games on a professional athlete’s livelihood.

In a team scrimmage just less than two years ago, clad in the uniform of Team USA, George lay on the floor of UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center, a bone from his shattered right leg protruding from his skin.

In the wake of the injury, not only was it unknown whether George, who starred and played on the Knight High School basketball team, would ever have the desire to compete for Team USA again – it was unclear whether he could make it back onto the court in any capacity, for any team.

"It’s hard to really express in full detail, except for this: We didn’t know, when he got hurt, if he’d ever be back," Colangelo said last week. "Not just with us – in terms of his career. We just prayed he’d just be able to come back and continue his career."

Kevin Durant admitted afterward that George’s injury "took everything out of" him and played a part in his decision to pull out of preparations for the 2014 FIBA World Cup a few days later. Colangelo and Krzyzewski met with George after his injury and promised him a spot on the 2016 Olympic team, but both were unsure as to whether he would be able to perform at the level necessary to make it more than a token gesture.

"I remember being in the hospital with him," Krzyzewski said. "Not that I did anything, but you try to envision and talk about, ‘In Rio you’ll be there.’ And you hope you believe that, you think you do, but maybe that’s not going to happen."

Yet here is George, preparing to head to Rio next month not only a member of Team USA but a deserving member coming off a sensational season for the Pacers, his first full season back on the court after recovering from that compound fracture.

He could have stayed away. He could have concentrated on the NBA career, from which he draws his paycheck. But instead he’s again suiting up in red, white and blue and preparing to take on the world.

"I did it for the inner Paul George," he said last week, when asked for an explanation of why he wanted to come back and be part of Team USA after everything he had gone through. "The kid Paul George, who has always dreamed of winning a gold medal. I wasn’t worried about no injuries. I wasn’t worried about getting back on the court, and how I would fare out there. It’s about fulfilling that childhood dream and representing the country."

It’s a dream that’s only possible because of the quick work surgeon Riley Williams III did that August night to give George a chance to get back on the court, and the days and weeks and months worth of rehab George subsequently did to get his body back into the world class shape it was before.

Williams, the team doctor for the Brooklyn Nets who also works with Team USA through its partnership with the Hospital for Special Surgery, was in his first week on the job with Team USA when George suffered his injury. In the two years since he performed the surgery to place a rod in George’s leg, the two of them have grown close, Williams watching as George returned to the player he was before.

"I’ve come across a lot of personality types in sports," Williams said. "I didn’t know (George) because he wasn’t with my team, and I’d only known him for a week. But what a honest, well-raised, forthright guy. He’s a total joy to deal with. . . . To have him come back (this way) has been pretty phenomenal."

That’s a sentiment shared by everyone within the Team USA apparatus. George has long been one of the most easygoing stars in the league, well-liked accordingly both by fellow players and the media.

Combined with everything he’s battled over the past two years just to get back to this point, it’s made George’s inclusion on Team USA a topic that brightens all whenever it’s raised.

"Man, for him, I know he’s like a kid in a candy store right now," Carmelo Anthony said. "Being able to be back out here, compete at a high level, not have to think or have any injuries on his mind or anything else. For him to be here, I’m pretty sure he’s excited."

"It’s the best," Krzyzewski said. "Just the best. He should be on the team, but the way he’s handled everything . . . physically, to be at the level he’s at, emotionally, mentally. Wow."

It took him the better part of a year, but George eventually completed his comeback to game action on April 5, 2015, when he played 15 minutes off the bench in a game against the Miami Heat, finishing with 13 points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals. He went on to come off the bench in the final six games of the 2014-15 season for the Pacers, nearly helping Indiana squeak into the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

But after having a full offseason to work out and get himself back into shape for an NBA season, George looked like the same player he was before the injury. This past season he finished with a career-high average of 23.1 points per game to go along with 7.0 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.9 steals, before averaging 27.3 points per game in Indiana’s seven-game loss to the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

After a season like that, it made the choice of putting George on the Olympic team an academic one – assuming, of course, he was willing to play after what he endured two years ago.

The decision, it turns out, was easy. After everything George went through, the only choice, in his mind, was to come back.

"At the end of the day, I owed myself that opportunity to come back out here," George said. "There’s no thought on (the injury). I’m moving forward. It’s another opportunity for me, and I’m just happy to be representing my country."

An young American soccer coach who never played college basketball is now the Nigerian Head Coach for the Olympics.  He will be taking on the US Team on Monday, 1 August 2016.

Nigeria men’s basketball coach Will Voigt addresses his team during a recent scrimmage in Las Vegas. 

How a former college soccer player ended up in the Olympic basketball arena. 

Nigeria men’s basketball coach Will Voigt addresses his team during a recent scrimmage in Las Vegas. Photo: Jacob Kepler for the Wall Street Journal

By Ben Cohen, The Wall Street Journal

July 25, 2016 5:15 p.m. ET

Will Voigt grew up in Vermont, played college soccer in California and moved to Idaho earlier this summer. But he hasn’t been home much since then, and he won’t be until after the Olympics. He’s been too busy working: Will Voigt is the coach of the Nigerian men’s national basketball team.

This is more than the most unexpected job of Voigt’s career. It may be the most unusual marriage of any coach and any country in the entire Olympic Games.

“What are the odds,” said Fran Voigt, his father, “that a little white guy from a little town in Vermont who never played college or professional ball would be selected to coach the Nigerian team?”

The odds of Nigeria winning a medal in Rio de Janeiro next month might be even longer. That would be the single biggest shocker in the history of Olympic basketball. As the lowest-ranked team, Nigeria’s goal is to become the first African country ever to get into the knockout round, and they’re aware of how improbable that sounds. “Obviously,” said captain Ike Diogu, “nobody believes we can come out of our group.”

That they’re even playing in the Olympics is almost as remarkable as how the Nigerians ended up with a 39-year-old, soft-spoken, baby-faced American as their coach. This has been Voigt’s full-time job for the last year, and every day he asks himself the obvious existential question: “How the heck did I end up here?”

It’s a wild story that continues in Rio after multiple stops in basketball hinterlands on several continents. And it began in a town that was rural even for Vermont. Voigt grew up on what used to be a dairy farm in Cabot, where he was one of 18 kids in the graduating class of his tiny high school, which was one of the smallest in the state. “There were more cows than people,” said his former coach Steve Pratt.

Still, people in Cabot sensed that Voigt would do something interesting with his life in part because of who his parents are. His father, Fran Voigt, founded the New England Culinary Institute. His mother, Ellen Bryant Voigt, was Vermont’s poet laureate and won a MacArthur genius fellowship last year for her poetry. “The gene pool,” said his father, “would not have anticipated this.”

Voigt went to Pomona College, a Division III school in California, where he played on the soccer team. His parents can still remember their response when they asked what he would major in and he told them he wanted to be a basketball coach: “Say what?” Fran Voigt said.

But he once explained to his mother why he wanted to coach basketball rather than the other sports he played. “He was always interested in the strategy,” Ellen Bryant Voigt said. “He was the point guard on the basketball team, the catcher on the baseball team and the center striker on the soccer team. He wanted to be right in the thick of it and make strategic decisions—which clearly you can do and need to do in a basketball game.”

Will Voigt talks to his Nigeria men’s basketball team during a recent scrimmage with Argentina. 

Will Voigt talks to his Nigeria men’s basketball team during a recent scrimmage with Argentina. Photo: Jacob Kepler for the Wall Street Journal

Voigt’s surprising career in professional basketball began with an internship with the Los Angeles Clippers. It stalled during the 1999 NBA lockout, so he worked for a data-warehousing company. It continued with the Clippers when the lockout ended—but he still kept the job with the data-warehousing company.

Then he moved to San Antonio to be video coordinator for the Spurs. At the time, the Spurs’ front office was stocked with future coaches and general managers, and many of them had peculiar backgrounds. Voigt’s was the most unexpected of them all.

“It’s like me wanting to be a water-polo player,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.

Voigt soaked up Popovich’s wisdom—but not only at work. They were roommates, too. Voigt found himself in need of a place to stay in the middle of the NBA season, and Popovich let him crash in his guest room for a month.

He moved out, left the Spurs in 2001 and soon became a basketball nomad. For his first head-coaching job, Voigt went to Norway for what he thought would be a week. It turned out to be three years. He was lured back to the U.S. for a magical run with a semi-pro team called the Vermont Frost Heaves that was founded by Sports Illustrated writer Alexander Wolff. He later relocated to China for a job with the Shanxi Brave Dragons.

Voigt is now coaching Nigeria in part because of that peripatetic career. He coached the Bakersfield Jam in the NBA’s D-League from 2009 to 2014—the longest Voigt has stayed in one place since college—and had key Nigerian national players on his teams there.

But even before then, Voigt became friends with Masai Ujiri, the Nigerian-born general manager of the Toronto Raptors. When Ujiri began setting up basketball camps in his native country, Voigt was one of the first volunteers. He worked camps in Zaria, Abuja and Lagos and impressed Ujiri by venturing to smaller cities hours away on his off days. “A lot of people ask a hundred questions,” Ujiri said, “which you’re supposed to do.” Voigt didn’t. “Will was just, like, ‘Let’s go,’” he said. “He’s one of those explorer types.”

For all the rules in Olympic sports, there are none that govern the nationality of coaches, and the result is a lot of arrangements that make as much sense as the coach of Nigeria being from Vermont. It’s one of the strange realities of every Olympics that gets overshadowed by the spectacular theatrics on fields and courts, on the track and in the water: If you look away from the action, you find people whose paths to the Olympics were incredible in their own right.

Nigeria head coach Will Voigt signals to his team during a recent scrimmage in Las Vegas. ENLARGE

Nigeria head coach Will Voigt signals to his team during a recent scrimmage in Las Vegas. Photo: Jacob Kepler for the Wall Street Journal

Voigt had been to Nigeria before and has been to Nigeria since, but the country’s basketball officials came to Dallas to interview him last year. He was offered the job in June. Olympic qualifying began in August. His contract ran through September. That meant Nigeria had to win the continental tournament known as AfroBasket or it would almost certainly have another new coach—and Nigeria had never before won AfroBasket.

Africa typically only gets one basketball team in the Olympics. That team is usually Angola, which opened the Barcelona Games with a nightmarish loss to the Dream Team. The few people who remember the Nigerians’ first Olympic appearance in 2012 might recall them the same way. “When you think about us,” Diogu said, “all you think about is us losing to the USA by 80 points.” It was actually 83 points: Team USA won, 156-73, in the most lopsided Olympic basketball game of all time.

But last summer, with Ujiri watching from a bar in Senegal and Voigt’s parents streaming the games on a computer in Vermont, Voigt and the Nigerians beat out 15 other nations for Africa’s automatic Olympic entry. One of his trips to Nigeria since then was for a celebration at Aso Villa—the country’s White House.

Voigt’s job is part coach, part general manager. He cobbled together a coaching staff from Nigeria, Norway, and the NBA. He constructed a roster with current NBA players like Al-Farouq Aminu and Michael Gbinije and notable college players who are now scattered around the world. Then he had to figure out how they should play. Nigeria still plans to run and press, but Voigt wants the team to be more efficient in the halfcourt, too. “In the past, people would look at African teams and say they’re athletic, but they have no discipline and play wild,” said Voigt, wearing a Nigeria green polo shirt and matching G-Shock watch. “We’ve really worked hard to change that. That was our approach at AfroBasket, and that’s our approach for Rio.”

There are 12 nations playing Olympic men’s basketball, and Voigt has the Nigerians convinced they could be one of the eight that get out of the group round. In the last two Olympics, no team ranked lower than No. 20 survived the group stage, and Nigeria enters the Olympics ranked 25th in the world. But it’s not impossible. Last week, in fact, Nigeria beat No. 4 Argentina.

“This is not the Jamaican bobsled team,” Voigt said as he munched on a turkey sandwich afterward.

But the difference between the Nigerian and U.S. teams is roughly equivalent to the difference between basketball and badminton. One day last week, Nigeria rolled into practice riding 15-seater vans. Team USA walked off Wi-Fi-enabled luxury buses to hundreds of fans waiting in oppressive heat for their autographs.

Next week, Nigeria will play the U.S. in its last Olympic tuneup, a matchup of the only American head men’s basketball coaches in Rio: Voigt and Mike Krzyzewski. One of them has been a coach longer than the other has been alive.

That game will begin like other U.S. and Nigeria games: with “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “Arise, O Compatriots.” Voigt’s parents were delighted last year by what happened after AfroBasket’s final buzzer. Nigeria’s players lifted Voigt in the air, climbed the podium and, with iPhones in their hands and medals around their necks, belted out their country’s national anthem. Voigt knew every word.

“We’re going to sing the anthem with pride,” he said, “and I do.”

Write to Ben Cohen at ben.cohen@wsj.com

“I first saw (AVC Player) in the Las Vegas tournament last July.”   “ When I saw that he could make his own mid-range shot off the elbow if his three ball was covered, I knew he could play for us,”  University head coach.  (AVC Player) now has a full ride at his university.   Simple things that tip the scales for a player.

The July evaluation period wrapped up over the weekend as college coaches across the country descended upon several tournaments in Las Vegas and Orlando.

I attended the Elite 80 JUCO Tournament in Las Vegas this weekend and there was a huge turn out of university coaches and many of the 80 invitees got some great looks.  One thing that must be kept in mind about this type of tournament is an “Look at Me” tournament.”  By that I mean, no plays, minimal passing, lots of jacked three-balls, and thunderous dunks.

Over the 20+ years I have been following JUCO basketball, it’s clear that university coaches are looking at specific skill sets(plugging a hole)from the JUCO players they are recruiting.  Rebounding, back up point guard, three point shooter, etc, etc..  Lets be candid, there are few if any 5 star players playing at JUCO.  They are already at the university.

Finally, university coaches will be watching players from the Elite 80 Tournament.  Grades, team work, off the court life style and decisions down the line will be made. 

I saw the following statement tweeted yesterday.

“If your player is good he doesn’t need a hype man in the background letting everyone else know how good his is.”

imageI do not agree.  JUCO basketball players need as much hype as they possibly can get.  They are not on TV, in the newspaper, or on the big money websites.  For one reason or another, the JUCO players did not receive that coveted university scholarship out of high school and often fade away for the minds of university coaches. 

There are three general types of “hype men/women” for JUCO players;

Private Recruiters/Scouts:  These are people who work hard in a number of ways to sell JUCO players to universities.  Although this hype is done for money, not a bad thing if it works.  

Coaches:  Part of the job of a successful JUCO coach, get those players placed with a scholarship.  The most important part of a coaches job.  Winning programs with academics place their players with scholarships.   Key in this process is to get the player a ride at the right level so they can be successful. 

Fan Websites:  These are ‘volunteers who bring out as much information on JUCO players as they can(usually via social media).  Most do it just for the joy of seeing players succeed.  No fiscal compensation here its done for the love of the game. 

The biggest disfavor one can do to JUCO players is not to get player’s name and skill set out there in front of university coaches.  If you call that hype then it’s a great thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six sophomores invited to the Elite 80 JUCO Tournament was a record for the AVC program. They showed why they were invited and put on a show for the 200 + university coaches.  Great way to move up on the scholarship radar.  Here is a final review of the team:


Anton "Ace" Warren, 6’10", 265

ACE stuff

Leading the “AVC elite six” with a All-Star selection and four outstanding games.  There are some drooling university coaches looking at the big man.


Charles "Scooter" Hall, 6’2", 190

Charles Hall Summer

I know that as an AVC  fan I am biased writer, but in his last two games in the tournament this was one of the All-star point guards.


Jailen Gill, 6’7", 225

Jailen Gill1

Playing at a self-professed 70%, with a quadriceps injury, this guy is going to to playing University basketball next year after scoring in double figures with 5 rebounds in his three games.   


KeShaun Mack, 6’4", 200

Keshaun Mack Fouled

Three weeks off the court showed in KeShaun’s game.  He show flashes of his talent that he possesses and watch this guy as he is a real talent on the floor. 


Cory Dollarhide, 5’11, 180

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Cory had three solid games playing out of his position.  A dean’s list student athlete will be heading to university basketball next year.


Reggie Byers, 5’9", 180

Reggie Byers3

He really got some ooh and aah’s from the university coaches.  A game changing point guard that moved up fast in university interest this weekend.  A special player.

Anton “Ace” Warren, 6”10’, 265 dominated in the paint in the All-Star game with 12 points and 5 rebounds.  He kept the rim safe for his team with his defense.  Great tournament for the big man. 

Ace Warren