The Jayhawk JUCO Tour took place last week, and we were able to watch workouts/evaluate prospects from many of the top JUCO programs in Kansas. Below is a recap of the tour and some of the top performers we saw.
Independence CC is led by first-year HC, Justin Mann, who takes over the reins for Bill Morosco (Morosco was named the HC at Garden City this past spring). Coach Mann’s group had high energy & showed depth at the guard position led by a pair of transfers, 6’4 Lucas Kroft (Western Texas) & 6’2 Rodney Munson (LSU-A). Independence is expected to have a team that will be able to play up-tempo and really put pressure on opponents for 94 feet. Johan Nzemi (6'6 freshman) is built like a linebacker, and 6’9 freshman Jason Baker (Legacy Charter School), will log heavy minutes inside. The Pirates will be an important stop for many D1 & D2 coaches throughout the year.
The defending national champions, Coffeyville CC, look to pick up right where they left off with several impressive additions to go with a good core group of returners. The returning core is led by 5’10 PG Love Bettis, 7’1 Atem Chol & Nebraska commit 6’10 Blaise Keita. Chol and Keita are each coming off an injury, but both are now healthy and ready to get the Red Ravens back to the final game in 2022. Coach Jay Herkleman added transfers 6’4 AJ McBride (UNC-A) & 6’7 Deng Mayer (Western Texas), to go with former ESPN 4-star guard, Madison Peaster. There isn’t a position that they don’t have experience or D1 talent at and should bring college coaches to southeast Kansas in droves. The stable is stocked for Coffeyville to make another run in the Jayhawk!
Our next stop on the Jayhawk tour took us to see Donnie Jackson & the Cowley Tigers. Coach Jackson didn’t have far to move when he left NOC-Tonkawa after a very successful tenure. Clarence King & Mekhi Cameron (Morehouse transfer) both should have good years on the wings for the Tigers. Cowley also has several other pieces that will fall into place once the ball tips next month. The tigers have a team that should cause opponents problems with their athleticism and length, especially with Coach Jackson’s known defensive strategies.
Our last stop on Day 1 led us to see Kyle Fisher’s Butler County Pioneers. Coach Fisher’s group is very solid on both ends with tons of pieces that bring experience and depth to El Dorado, KS this season. They are led by a quartet of transfers: Marque English (6'7/Northern Colorado transfer), Eden Holt (5'9/UT-Martin transfer), 6’4 Jaden Okon (6'4/Hutch transfer), and 6’4 Caleb Golden (6'4/Tarleton St. transfer). The Pioneers are built for the long haul with depth at every position, which should serve them well going through the gauntlet of the Jayhawk Conference. The Jayhawk teams will see a true round-robin schedule this season, rather than an East/West division slate.
Day 2 started off in Pratt, KS to see the Beavers coached by Sean Flynn. Coach Flynn has filled his roster with plenty of players from his native New York State, and they have quality depth as well across the board. We were impressed by the motors of 6’5 Harrison Eghan, & 6’3 Tommy Thomas from Harlem, NY. Both players showed the competitive spirit and toughness needed to compete in the Jayhawk, and for Coach Flynn. They were active on the boards and have the ability to play both forward positions. Nelson Ayala (6'2/G) from Queens, NY showed similar northeast toughness on the perimeter and even showed that he wasn’t afraid to mix it up on the glass, rebounding well for a guard his size.
We continued to Barton County for our next stop to get a look at first-year head coach, Jeremy Coombs, who came to Great Bend, KS after a long tenure at Neosho. Coach Coombs's first BCCC team is young but skilled. The best prospect we saw was 6’6 freshman guard Hannes Saar from Tartu, Estonia. Saar played point most of the day and showed the ability to set guys up to succeed on offense, and when needed had a very crafty way of scoring the ball. He’s excellent in PNR situations and displayed a high IQ. Modibo Sang (6'10/F) and Evans Kipruto (6'9/F) will anchor the frontcourt that should bring a healthy dose of experience and strength to the Jayhawk Conference this season.
The final stop of Day 2 ended in Dodge City, KS, where 2nd-year head coach, Jake Williams, has fielded one of the most talented groups we saw. The frontcourt mirrored what most mid-level D1 programs aim for with size, rim-protecting, and skill. Mykell Robinson (6’7/North Texas transfer), and Kahari Rogers (6'7/FL SW transfer) didn’t participate due to minor injuries but should be back in time for the All-American Jamboree in Oklahoma City on October 3rd. Both are expected to be impact players for the Conquistadors. Nick Pringle (6’11/Wofford transfer) was impressive on both ends and will be a highly sought-after big man this year from mid and high major programs. Omar Koureissi (6'10/F) returns to Dodge City after a quality freshman campaign and displayed a skill set that has had several D1 coaches making plans to see the Conq’s in person this fall. On the perimeter, Coach Williams has a variety of transfers in 6’2 Kalen Williams (NMSU), 6’1 Themus Fulks (SCSU), and 6’5 Jordan Love (SEMO) who should all receive plenty of interest this season as well.
Day 3’s morning workout took place at Northwest Kansas Tech in Goodland, KS. NW Tech is led by first-year head coach, Jay Bradley, who came to Goodland after successful assistant stints at Odessa and Clarendon. NW Tech was one of the youngest teams we saw on the tour, along with Barton County. Ethan Yancy (6'2/G/) was one of the most talented guards that we evaluated during the trip. He made shots off the bounce, as well as catch & shoot, and created space from defenders all morning. He even displayed elite athleticism by driving baseline for dunks over 6’9 defenders. Yancy is a transfer from NW Florida State and grew up near Houston, TX. The Mavericks should get help from 6’2 freshman Zaire Hayes, and 6’6 sophomore Hanta Louis-Jeune from Lake Worth, FL. Overall, they have a good, quick group that will go as their guards go in 2022.
Colby CC might have been the surprise of the tour. Coach Rusty Elmore displayed a mix of returners, and transfers, with possibly the best freshman in the Jayhawk in 6’7 forward Allen Mubeka. Mubeka hails from Belgium but prepped at Golden State Prep prior to arriving in Colby. Mubeka will team up with Western Kentucky commit Tyrone Marshall (6'7), who shot the ball better than expected and showed perimeter skills we hadn’t seen before. The Trojans have a brand-new facility to attract transfers, and they were able to land 6’5 Cortez Moseley, an all-region performer for Moberly in 2021. Mosely, and 6’1 PG Anthony Marshall, should provide a very attractive backcourt for college coaches this year.
Continuing south, we checked in on another head coach making his program debut. As we mentioned earlier, Bill Morosco left Independence for Garden City CC this spring. Morosco will try to continue to build on the success GCCC had under former head coach, Cole Dewey, who is now an assistant at TAMU-CC. The Broncs roster boasts 6’11 pro prospect Mohamed Diarra, who returns from Paris, France. Diarra has a very intriguing skill set, but he will need to show more of a force on the interior to dominate the Jayhawk the way he is capable. Coach Morosco brought in D1 transfer Heru Bligen from Longwood, where he averaged 7ppg. Where Bligen lacks in skill, he makes up for in sheer athleticism and size. He will be expected to create havoc on opposing offenses with his strength & defense. Freshman Anthony Hunter, from Las Vegas, NV looked like he could run the point for the Broncs in his rookie campaign. He was able to get to spots on the floor at will and showed the ability to finish in traffic as well.
Our final stop of the Jayhawk tour took us to Liberal, KS where we were able to get a limited look at Seward County’s team due to injuries. First-year HC, Rylee Hernandez, has a very talented player returning in 6’5 Erik Pratt, who averaged 14ppg for the Saints in 2021. Pratt was home in Minnesota getting a minor injury checked out but is expected to return soon. Malachi McReed transferred in from Indian River and has the strength and size to cause interior problems for opponents this season. The Saints' backcourt should be led by 6’1 Taye Donald, from The Potters House School, who showed quickness and scoring ability in the evening workout.