Friday, June 1, 2012

NMJC men's hoops program shows growth with D-I signings

Clayton Jones/News-Sun
NMJC's Marvin Binney is signed to play at
Duquesne University next season.
  I wrote a story earlier this week in the News-Sun about a trio of New Mexico Junior College men's basketball players signed to play NCAA Division-I basketball next season – point guard Marvin Binney (Duquesne University), guard Alex Phillips (University of Nebraska-Omaha) and post Ryan Okwudibonye (Sacramento State). Likely it will be four if and when forward Dequan Hicks signs with someone (was signed with Missouri State).
  These signings show the growth of the program under third-year coach Chris Tifft. He's put his mark on the program, improving from 16-14 in his first season to 23-9 last season and taking the Thunderbirds to the Region V Tournament for the first time since 1998. More impressively, in Western Junior Conference Athletic Conference play NMJC has gone from 3-11 in 2009-10 to 10-4 last season, finishing tied for second with Howard College.
  NMJC is showing that it's going to send players to the next level (high on the list of talented players that have to go the junior college route), even if it's just after an athlete's freshman season like Binney. While the T-Birds will miss the strong, heady point guard and could have used him next season, it just shows Binney's talent to be picked up by a solid D-I basketball school like Duquesne that plays in great hoops conference in the Atlantic-10.
  This is why I always tell people to go check out NMJC basketball games (the women too are sending players to D-I schools). It's a level of college basketball that's probably only surpassed by D-I ball.