The GCAA is a Path for Many to Hoop Dreams
The GCAA, like many National Junior College Athletic Association members, has been the home for many athletes to continue their collegiate athletic endeavors. Some have been able to turn it into four-year collegiate athletic careers, and some have even transitioned into the professional ranks. The last two seasons have shown an unbelievable growth in our basketball programs, moving student-athletes onto the four-year level and especially the NCAA Division I level. "I am channel surfing and all of a sudden I see three former GCAA players battling on ESPN -- Gordon's Raynere Thornton and Highlands' Kyvon Davenport playing for Memphis versus South Georgia's Tracy Hector for FAMU," Justin Newton, Andrew College Head Coach, says. This is not abnormal, as many former GCAA Basketball student-athletes play one another, but this time it's in NCAA D1 uniforms.
We have had games involving former GCAA players playing one another this season at an alarming rate. In non-conference games, it happened 8 times, with all kinds of social media mentions of the GCAA, NJCAA, and the respective GCAA institutions being mentioned. But that is not where it will stop, as 11 times during conference play we will have former GCAA student-athletes battling again -- but this time it will be on the NCAA D1 court and will be televised on either ESPN3 or other ESPN networks; please check your local listings. "It is always a cool thing when watching games and hearing our schools mentioned when one of our guys does something in the game," SGSC Head Coach Cory Baldwin said.
Playing against each other has happened numerous times this season, but what about 3 different NCAA D1 teams that have former GCAA rivals who are now teammates? "Raynere is a great teammate. You never know who you will end up playing with," says Kyvon Davenport, a Georgia Highlands College graduate and now Memphis star, of playing with Gordon State College graduate Raynere Thornton. "We actually play really well together. We talk about our games in junior college, the Georgia Highland- Gordon games." Rico Simmons, a South Georgia Technical College graduate is teammates with Georgia Highlands College graduate Fritz Lucien at Mississippi Valley State University.
Some of the highlights this season for former GCAA student-athletes at the NCAA D1 level are:
-Georgia Highlands College graduate Kyvon Davenport has had double-digits 11 times this season, with 2 of those being 30-plus point performances. None of those performances is bigger than when Kyvon helped Memphis hang with #3 University of Tennessee with 31 points and 11 rebounds in the close game.
-Gordon State College graduate Cedric Counsil was named MEAC Defensive Player of the Week this season three separate times, and two were back-to-back weeks; this was all before we even reached conference play.
-South Georgia State College graduate Zaquavian Smith had 17 points at UGA and has scored double digits 7 times this season for Savannah State University.
-Georgia Highlands College graduate Ty Cockfield is averaging 20.5ppg and has scored 20 or more 9 times, with two of those being 30-plus.
-Central Georgia Technical College graduate Mike Laster is playing a huge role for Bowling Green and has already scored double-digits twice this season for them in wins.
-South Georgia Technical College graduate Rico Simmons has had two games this season where he scored double-digits.
-Gordon State College graduate AJ Cheeseman has had double-digit scoring games 8 times this season and had 19 points vs Georgetown to start the season.
-Leaving after his freshman season at South Georgia State College, O'Showen Williams tallied a career-high 22 points on 6-of-8 (75.0 percent) shooting, to go along with three steals in a Sun Belt Tournament victory over Little Rock and started this season off right where he left off, having 4 straight double-digit scoring games versus conference opponents.
-South Georgia Technical College graduate Pat Welch has scored double-digits 3 times this season.
-South Georgia State College Tracy Hector, Jr. scored 20 points at South Alabama and has had double-digits in rebounding twice and scoring four times this season.
-Gordon State College graduate Derek St. Hilaire has scored double-digits once this season and been a constant contributor to a possible NCAA tournament team, Jacksonville State University.
-Georgia Highlands College graduate, Kamar McKnight now Tennessee State University has dropped 30 points versus Western Kentucky and had double digit scoring nights on the regular this season 12/16 games.
All the guys are contributing. Some were not mentioned, but all are making contributions which are, in turn, making our institutions, state, and region (conference) proud.
South Georgia Tech
Bobby Jackson – Grambling St
Andre Kennedy – Alabama A&M
Rico Simmons – Mississippi Valley St
Ed Jones – Alabama St
Pat Welch – USC-Upstate
Gordon State College
Jailan Haslem – UNC-Charlotte.
Cedric Council – Coppins State University
Raynere Thornton – University of Memphis
AJ Cheeseman – University Maryland Eastern Shore
Derek St. Hilaire – Jacksonville State University
Kevon Tucker – East Tennessee State University
South Georgia State College
Qua Smith – Savannah State University
O'Showen Williams – Appalachian State University
Nate Louis – Charleston Southern University
Tracy Hector, Jr – FAMU
Central Georgia Technical College
Mike Laster – Bowling Green State University
Eli Farrakhna – Wichita State University
Georgia Highlands College
Kyvon Davenport – University of Memphis
Ty Cockfield – Arkansas State University
Kamar McKnight – Tennessee State University
D'Andre Bernard – East Tennessee State University
AJ Farrar – Alabama State University
Jeremiah Buford – Nicholls State University
Fritz Lucien – Mississippi Valley State
Thanks to MBKB Chair Cory Baldwin and the Men's Coaches for article and info provided