2011-12 Season Preview for Men's Basketball
2011-12 NMJC Men's Basketball
11/2/2011 11:33:10 AM
With eight returning players and a strong incoming freshman class, the New Mexico Junior College men’s basketball program is looking to take a giant step forward this season. In his third year as the Head Coach of the Thunderbirds, Chris Tifft is hoping to see the same kind of improvement this season as he did last year.
The 2010-11 Thunderbirds finished the season with a 19-9 overall record with 11 freshmen and only four sophomores. The T-Birds finished 8th in the nation in team defense (points allowed per game) and tied for fourth in the Western Junior College Athletic Conference, its highest finish in the last decade.
All four sophomores from the 2010-11 team have moved on to play at the four-year level. Arthur Bernardi signed to play at Houston Baptist University, a Division I program in Houston, TX. Honorable Mention All-Conference selection Marc Little signed to play at Abilene Christian University, while Andrew Morris and B.J. Beasley received scholarships to Coker College and Lenoir Rhyne University, respectively.
The 2011-12 team returns eight freshmen from last year’s team in 6’1’’ guard Kevin Chandler, 6’2’’ point guard Marvin Binney, 6’2’’ guard Dekabriean Eldridge, 6’2’’ guard Alex Phillips, 6’5’’ wing Rashawn Mitchell, 6’6’’ forward Josh Shelton, 6’7’’ forward Dequan Hicks and 6’8’’ post Ryan Okwudibonye. Dequan Hicks was voted to the Western Junior College Athletic Conference All-Conference team and led the Thunderbirds in scoring in rebounding as a freshman. Alex Phillips, Rashawn Mitchell and Josh Shelton all started for the Thunderbirds as freshmen.
The Thunderbirds’ backcourt will be anchored by a solid cast of returners, including 6’2’’ guard Alex Phillips (Phenix City,AL) and 6’2’’ Dekabriean Eldridge (Dallas, TX). Redshirt freshman Marvin Binney (6’2’’/ Toronto, Canada) will give the Thunderbirds much needed experience at the point guard position, while 6’1’’ Kevin Chandler will compete for time at the shooting guard position. A talented group of freshmen guards will bring versatility and depth to the Thunderbirds’ frontcourt. Incoming freshmen include 6’1’’ Rob Turner(Augusta, GA), 6’3’’ Desmond Lee (Norfolk, VA), 6’3’’ Dominik Tannis-Harriet(London, England) and 6’4’’ Lorelle Waters (Norfolk, VA).
This year’s frontcourt will return familiar faces in 6’5’’ Rashawn Mitchell (Savannah, GA), 6’6’’ Josh Shelton (Savannah, GA), 6’7’’ Dequan Hicks (Racine, WI) and 6’8’’ Ryan Okwudibonye (Huntington Beach, CA). The Thunderbirds have added size and depth to the lineup, including 6’8’’ post Chris Dees (Sylmar, CA) and 6’7’’ post J.J. Davenport (Abbeville, LA). Incoming freshman Alexander Ovcharenko (6’6’’/ Moscow, Russia) will also be counted on for production at the forward position.
The Thunderbirds will once again be hosting the season-opening Thunderbird Classic, as well as the T-Bird Shootout in early January. NMJC’s non-conference schedule will include road games at Eastern Wyoming College, Otero Junior College, Ranger College and Pima Community College. The Thunderbirds will host Central Arizona College, University of the Southwest JV, Lubbock Christian JV, Otero Junior College, Ranger College and ABCD Prep out of Dallas, TX in non-conference action at the Caster Activity Center.
The T-Birds will also be competing in four tournaments this year, facing some of the top teams in the country. The Thunderbirds will participate in tournaments in Torrington (WY), La Junta (CO), Odessa (TX) and Tucson (AZ).
This year’s WJCAC Conference schedule will include home and away games with Frank Phillips College, Howard College, Midland College, New Mexico Military Institute, Odessa College, South Plains College and Western Texas College.
For more information on the NMJC Thunderbirds men’s basketball program, please visit www.go-thunderbirds.com.