TYLER – It’s not February, but anytime Tyler Junior College and Kilgore College meet on the basketball court, it’s worth taking notice.
And the Apaches and Rangers were two of the more impressive teams through the first two days of an NJCAA Men’s Basketball Summer Recruiting Event at TJC’s Wagstaff Gymnasium.
Multiple players from both squads have drawn the attention of four-year college coaches in attendance. And with all of the eyes on them, they continued to perform at a high level.
Da’Sean Nelson delivered a few highlight-reel dunks for Kilgore College. Dantwan Grimes and DaVeon Thomas made shots, and Paul Otieno handled things down low for the Rangers.
For TJC, returners Jestin Porter, Isaac Aguiar and Angel Dibwa newcomers Marcus Rigsby, Sean Franklin, Parker Grant, CJ Camper and Sean O’Neal have all shown flashes in the first four games.
“Just from the bits and pieces I’ve seen, I’m excited about our talent level and excited about the potential of our team to play together well,” TJC head coach Mike Marquis said. “I definitely like the way they’re (the returners) trying to communicate with their teammates and explain the way we do things. They’ve showed some really good maturity on and off the floor.”
Kilgore College head coach Brian Hoberecht is returning four players from a team that advanced to the NJCAA Tournament this past season. He’s able to watch the games this weekend from the stands.
“I think the main thing this weekend was to let them try to start to get to know each other a little bit and definitely let them play in front of these Division I coaches,” Hoberecht said. “So far, we’ve done very little as far as instruction. They came in on Wednesday night, so we had about 48 hours just to organize some spacing. I’ve been pleased with their competitiveness and togetherness, just trying to play together and have fun together. That’s been fun to watch.”
KC also played Clarendon and Arkansas Cossatot on Saturday.
There were 21 total games on Saturday, and no score is kept during the event.
There were multiple East Texans playing on Saturday — Tyler High’s Sean O’Neal for TJC, Kilgore High School’s Isaac Hoberecht for Kilgore College, LaPoynor’s Isaac Jackson for Panola, Martin’s Mill’s Garrett Celsur for Navarro and Malakoff’s Klayton Copeland and Gary’s Ryan Ecker for Clarendon.
Pleasant Grove’s Layton Jackson, brother of LSU four-star defensive end Landon Jackson, was playing for Arkansas Cossatot.
There were coaches in attendance from California State-Bakersfield, Sam Houston State, Cleveland State, Tulsa, Texas State, Northwestern State, Robert Morris, Texas Southern, West Virginia, Central Michigan, Old Dominion, Cincinnati, Alaska-Fairbanks, UT Tyler, East Texas Baptist University and more.
Utah Valley State head coach Mark Madsen, a former NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, was also in attendance.
“I’ve got really good responses from the coaches, and obviously the kids are excited to get to play,” Marquis said. “Having a few fans in the gym has been great too. We’re very thankful to those entities for making this a special time.”
Brandon Ogden is a sportswriter for the Tyler Morning Telegraph, a member of M. Roberts Media, along with the Kilgore News Herald.