NWC men’s hoops hits recruiting trail

New coach, new faces to take the court in 2019-20

Posted 8/8/19

The start of the of the 2019-2020 Northwest College men’s basketball season is still a few months away, but recruiting season is in full swing for new head coach Jay Collins.

Hired in May to …

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NWC men’s hoops hits recruiting trail

New coach, new faces to take the court in 2019-20

NWC’s Kyle Brown is one of three Trappers returning for his sophomore season. Brown showed promise as a freshman before his season was cut short by an injury.
NWC’s Kyle Brown is one of three Trappers returning for his sophomore season. Brown showed promise as a freshman before his season was cut short by an injury.
Tribune photo by Don Cogger
Posted

The start of the of the 2019-2020 Northwest College men’s basketball season is still a few months away, but recruiting season is in full swing for new head coach Jay Collins.

Hired in May to replace interim coach Dawud Abdur-Rahkman, Collins faces the uphill battle of building a team almost from scratch. With just a handful of returners and a truncated recruiting season, finding quality players who’ve yet to commit to a school has been a challenge.

“It’s August, so we’re getting there,” Collins said. “It’s not quite panic mode yet. That’s the funny thing about junior college: It’s August, but good players are still available.”

In the mix for the Trappers this season will be two-time All-State Cody standout Elijah Leyva. Leyva led the state in scoring in class 4A last season, averaging 25.7 points per game.

“I’ve watched Elijah on video, and he can really, really shoot the rock,” Collins said. “Obviously he’s a little undersized and needs to gain some strength. The jump from high school to college is always a big one, especially for a small-town kid. He’ll have some adjustments to make, but I’m glad he’s decided to stay home. Now we’ll see what he’s got.”

Like many of his fellow coaches at NWC, Collins said it’s always positive when you can recruit locally.

“If there’s a player that’s local that can help us, you always want to recruit your backyard,” he said. “It would be a darn shame if someone from Powell or Cody or someone from around this area ended up at Sheridan or Gillette and they end up beating us. You certainly don’t want to let that happen.”

Collins has also signed a pair of New Jersey prospects that he’s excited are making the trip out west: Corey Greer, a 6’2” combo guard out of Camden High School, and Maurice Murray, a 6’6” guard out of Timber Creek Regional High School. Though they played for different schools, Greer and Murray have known each other and played against one another for years.

“Corey Greer can really score, and has a really good reputation at a high level,” Collins said. “Maurice Murray was actually a 6’6” point guard in high school,” Collins said. “He’ll make big plays and he’ll be dynamic. I think he’ll be a tough matchup, because he has the size and length to score around the basket, but he’s got the ability to handle the ball and play on the perimeter as well.”

Greer may have had a hand in nudging Murray toward NWC, according to Collins.

“We didn’t really get them at the same time; we got Cory first, and then kind of like the NBA, I think Corey helped recruit Maurice a little bit,” Collins said. “I’m really happy to get both of those guys.”

The Trappers have also signed Seth Mason, a 6’7” forward from Phoenix, Arizona. Mason played a year at Chandler-Gilbert Community College in Phoenix, and at 21, will be one of the older players on the roster.

“He’s a little older, but I think he’ll bring some maturity to he program, and he can stretch the floor,” Collins said of Mason. “He’s kind of the prototypical stretch four-man. And he’s got the toughness and strength to play the five if needed.”

Also joining the Trappers will be Jerome Mabry, a 6’2” guard from South Division High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Mabry averaged 13.3 points per game as a senior to lead South Division in scoring.

“He’s a freshman, he’ll have a learning curve,” Collins said.  “He’s tough, and I think he’s really been coached well. He’ll know how to sit down and defend, he’ll rebound and he’s a really good kid. We’re pleased to get him as well.”

As for returners, one player Collins will look to for leadership during the 2019-2020 season is Kyle Brown, a 6’1” guard from Middletown, New York. Brown started 10 games in 2018-2019 and averaged eight points per game during an injury-riddled season. Mysen McArthur and Max Dehon are the other two returners; both saw limited time coming off the bench last season.

“We’re excited to have Kyle Brown back, we’re hoping he’ll have a breakout year,” Collins said. “Watching videos on him from last year before he got hurt, he was pretty dynamic. I think he’ll be able to play the way we want him to with our guards.”

Collins said he will continue recruiting the rest of the summer, and hopes to have an idea of what his team will look like by the time classes start Aug. 21.

“We have room for hopefully two more,” he said. “We have some guys we’re talking with that we should know more about in the next couple of days. So hopefully we’ll get two more, and they’ll be bigger guys. And when I say big, I’m not real big on having a lumbering 7-footer on the court; at this level, I’d rather have a 6’5” dude who can run and do some things like rebound and defend.”

Collins is returning to the junior college ranks after spending time as an assistant for a couple of D-I programs. He said the junior college level is his favorite, simply because “it’s a purer form of basketball.”

“There aren’t as many rules and regulations at this level,” he said. “It’s just more a case of get ‘em in here and get ‘em hoopin’. Get them to go to class, and get them to play basketball.”

Though it’s early yet for any preseason predictions, Collins did say the goal is always to win a Region IX championship; he’s expecting the team he puts on the floor in October to be a competitive one.

“The beauty of junior college basketball, especially in this region, is there isn’t an Indian Hills or a College of Southern Idaho that wins the league every year,” he said. “You look at the teams that have won it [Region IX] in the past, and I think it’s different every year for the past five years. It’s a league of parity — if you get the right guys and have the right chemistry, there are a lot of teams that can win it. It’s just a really good league where everyone on a given year has a chance to make a run.”

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