With the start of basketball season around the corner, Allen Community College’s men’s team has a chance to continue its upward trajectory. Last season, the team finished 16-15 overall and 4-8 in conference play.
“Last year was actually a step in the right direction for conference play,” coach Andy Shaw said. “We tied for fourth place in a four-way tie.”
The previous season, Allen finished last in the conference with a 6-25 overall record and 2-16 in conference play. The Red Devils will have 18 players on the roster, 14 of which are freshmen. The team has two key players returning — Courtney Stockard and Josh Sweet.
Last season, Stockard averaged close to 13 points and Sweet averaged just under 10.
Both will be counted on to provide leadership for the young team.
“Everyone else has kind of fallen suit with them,” Shaw said. “Everyone follows their lead and that has been a very big positive influence on our team with having those two guys coming back.”
Nonetheless, the team will lean heavily on its freshmen to have a major impact. Shaw said he’s undecided who will be redshirted. The team has until Friday to turn in its roster. Playing time will be earned on the practice floor and everything else they do, Shaw said.
“They’re going to have to come in during their first year of college basketball and play a lot of minutes and be impact players for us,” he said. “I really like our group of guys, they’re listening to everything we are teaching them and getting better each day.”
One of the newcomers sure to make an impact is Jermaine Long. The 6-3 guard can score in multiple ways and was chosen as a top-five incoming freshman in Region VI by the NJCAA.
“He shoots the ball from the perimeter and is very good at getting to the rim on one dribble to score,” Shaw said. “He’s a very good defender and smart basketball player.”
Jordan Nanton, one of the four sophomores on the team, is a transfer from Williston State College in North Dakota. The guard will be looked to be a point guard.
“He’s a very good passer, we expect him to lead us in assists this year,” Shaw said. “He will play a big role for us as our point guard.”
The team will feature all new forwards, according to Shaw. Darren Spruill is expected to help make an impact.
“He’s a strong, physical type player that uses his body very well,” Shaw said.
The competition this season is expected to be “tough as always,” Shaw said.
“I’ve gotten to see a few of the teams at the jamborees the last couple of weeks,” Shaw said. “There’s a lot of new players around the conference. We were projected fifth in the (Jayhawk) East, which is where the coaches ranked us. That’s an improvement from last year, we were projected last.”
But, Shaw doesn’t care about the preseason polls and will take it one game at a time.
“I know it’s going to be tough and we have a tough schedule early in the season, to try and prepare us for our conference schedule once we get into January,” Shaw said. “We’re going to get our guys ready early with tough competition and I think that will benefit us down the line.”
This will be the third season for Shaw as head coach and fourth with the team. Over that time, he has learned to recruit guys that will fit well within Allen’s system of play.
“I’ve recruited guys based off the style of play that we play,” Shaw said. “I think we play an exciting style of basketball with a lot of ball screens, which lets guys showcase their talents and make plays out of our offense.”
Shaw recognizes he still is young and still learning.
“I like my team and my assistant coach does a great job,” Shaw said. “Coach (Ryan) Mahoney is a very, very good assistant coach and is very helpful with everything we do. I’m just going to continue to grow myself and this program.”
ACC’s first game of the season is at home at 4 p.m. Saturday against NOC Tonkawa.
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