Men’s Basketball Shooting for a National Title
By Christina Easter
Last season men’s head basketball coach Aaron Nixon led the Triceratops to a successful 24-7 season after a two year pause in Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) sports. This season, Nixon expects the team to be better than last season and make a shot at the national tournament. He plans to do this with a combination of returning players, new players, and an experienced coaching staff.
As a first year head coach, Nixon says he just wanted to build a solid base. “I did not want to let my personal expectations interfere with the kids and I think I did that,” Nixon said. “We made it to the regional semi-finals and this was a good start seeing how we were bringing sports back to Tri-C.”
The Triceratops opened the season with a 127-67 blow-out victory over CBG Prep on November 3. First year player Ramir Bledsoe scored 24 points, Devonte Demlanov pulled down 7 rebounds, and Clayton Cunningham had 15 points, 7 assists, and 9 steals.
Five other players also scored in double digits: Manny Hill (13), Devonte Green (14), Ezra McKee (10), Jayden Wilson (10), and Howard Jeffries (12).
To make the national tournament, Nixon expects returning players Mikael Hill, Donovan Coffee, Patrick Gail, and Manny Hill to make significant contributions. With the loss of Devin Haid, returning 6 ‘7 wing-man Ezra McKee is expected to put his stamp on each game this season.
“Ezra is very skilled, plays with high energy, can shoot, and is a vocal leader,” Nixon said.
McKee’s skills will be needed to replace Haid who put up big numbers for the Triceratops last season while playing in all 31 games, averaging 20-plus points per game, and winning player of the week honors three times. Haid now plays for Notre Dame College.
In addition to the returning players, freshman players Pharrell House, Clayton Cunningham, and Howard Jeffries are expected to step up and play big. House is a 6 ‘7 wing player that coach Nixon says will be a good part of the team’s core. Cunningham is a strong guard who can score and facilitate, and Jeffries is a point forward who can stretch the floor with his shooting and is expected to be a leader
Assistant coaches Arika Jones and Chris Bundus will use the experience they learned from last season to help lead the team to the national tournament. Jones assists with all aspects of practice, comes up with plays, and makes sure the players are respectful.
“Expectations this season are to stay healthy, make nationals, and excel in the classroom,” Jones said.
Bundus does everything game related such as working with players on their shooting and getting them ready to play. “Last year was a very enjoyable year,” Bundus said. “I learned a lot and we had a lot of really good guys, I just wish we had advanced further in the playoffs.”
The MBK season started November 3 and runs through March 2. Games are played at the Metro campus. Review the schedule then pick games to come out and support the Tops.