SHERIDAN — After helping lead the Sheridan College Generals basketball team to a share of the regular season Region IX North title and a 31-4 season record, Javary Christmas, Sean Sutherlin and Camron Reece received scholarships to play basketball at Division 1 schools.
All three players scored more than 10 points for their new teams in beginning season action, proving that Sheridan College can be an avenue for reaching a four-year school.
Sheridan College head coach Cody Ball said young basketball players do not dream of playing at Sheridan College or any other junior college. The goal for all basketball players is to reach a four-year school. Usually, players attend schools like Sheridan College because of circumstances such as an injury, level of competition in high school or grades.
Ball said previous head coach Matt Hammer did a good job developing and then moving players on to four-year schools.
“I think a lot of times, moving players along is more important than winning games,” Ball said. “Although winning is the ultimate goal, moving players on and having student success is the biggest thing. If we can show that to recruits, we can have more success in recruiting.”
When players have success at a four-year school, it can help with the recruiting process and show the quality of the basketball program at Sheridan College, Ball said.
“It helps a ton with recruiting because at the junior college level, a huge part of it is recruiting players to come here and move them on to the four-year level,” Ball said. “When we have seven guys at the division one level it really helps with recruiting. We can tell guys that we are recruiting, ‘If you come here we have had success moving players on to Akron, Florida State, Montana State, Northern Kentucky.’ Just all over the country, and that is a huge part of it. You can look at certain schools — maybe they do well record-wise, and maybe they do not move their players on.”
Sheridan College also has players attending lower level NCAA programs and NAIA programs.
Christmas attends the University of Idaho and earned 17 points, five rebounds and four assists in Idaho’s 88-82 home win over Evergreen State Nov. 5.
“I think it went really well; we are coming together as a team,” Christmas said. “I think that was the biggest thing for us was playing together and emphasizing on making extra passes, getting out of our selfish ways and becoming one. We have a lot of new players here and just becoming one as a team. Getting this first win was big for us.”
Christmas averaged 12 points, 4 rebounds and three assists while at Sheridan College. Idaho is the second Division 1 school Christmas has attended, he walked on to the University of Oregon before attending Sheridan College.
Sutherlin had a double-double in his debut for the University of New Hampshire with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Sutherlin said he was happy with his first game at a new school and looks to continue to improve as the season goes on.
UNH defeated Curry College out of Massachusetts in the first game of the year at home Nov. 5. Sutherlin said it was a good first opponent for the team and the win allows UNH to start off on the right foot.
Sutherlin averaged 10 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2 assists per game while wearing his SC uniform.
In his D1 debut, Reece scored 13 points and pulled down six rebounds in his first game at Akron University. Akron defeated Malone University at home 81-64 Nov. 5
Reece averaged 13 points and eight rebounds at SC last season.
The main difference between Division 1 and junior college is the pace of play, Christmas said. Everyone is a little faster, and adding weight is important at the D1 level.
Christmas said in the offseason the team lifted five times a week and currently lift three times a week during the season. The focus in the weight room has been the biggest change in training.
Sutherlin said previous SC head coach Matt Hammer did a good job preparing the Generals for high-level basketball and operated the program with the same intensity as a D1 program.
The main difference between the schools that Sutherlin has experienced is the style of play. UNH likes to slow down the offense more and play tough defense, while Hammer liked to push the pace of the game.
Sutherlin said both SC and UNH receive great support from the communities they are in, and he has enjoyed support received from fans at both schools.
Sutherlin keeps in touch with his former teammates and said it is great that they are having success at their new schools.
Former and current basketball players for the Generals look to build on early success and improve as their seasons continue.