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Chipola Pre-Season #1

By: Tony Jimenez


While Midland College celebrated, Chipola Coach Greg Heiar sat quietly, chin in hand, at the Hutchinson Sports Arena in Kansas last March. You could already see his wheels spinning after losing the NJCAA Tournament final to Midland 94-75.


Now Chipola, thanks in large part to Heiar, is again national-title material. The coach can flat-out recruit. He has a starting five some four-year schools would envy and recently sent JaMarcus Ellis (the 2006-07 National Junior College Player of the Year) and DeAndre Thomas to Indian University. The Indians have gone 95-11 in Heiar's three seasons at the helm, and he's been named the Panhandle Conference's top coach each year.


Despite losing six of its top players (including all five starters) from a year ago, Chipola won't miss a beat. The best of Heiar's new lot are sophomore transfers from Divisions I programs. Malik Alvin, a 6'1 point guard, led all Conference USA freshmen in steals and assists at UTEP last season before leaving for academic reasons. Joey Cameron (6'9, 255 pounds) was formerly at Seton Hall, while 6'9 Gary Flowers brings his 7'5 winspan over from Oklahoma State. Seven-footer Jon Kreft originally signed at Florida State before sitting out last season due to personal reasons.


Just as important is 6'5 win Mario Little (the team's sixth man as a freshman), who returns with the appetite for redemption that should spread quickly to the rest of Heiar's squad.


Click here for the NJCAA National Poll


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