Indians To Tip Off Season: Host Truett-McConnell
October 31, 2007
By Chipola Staff
With all five starters from last year’s National Runner-Up team now gone, the Indians will try to find out if the off-season emphasis on recruiting and training will pay dividends.
Gone is JaMarcus Ellis, last year’s National Player of the year. He, along with center DeAndre Thomas, are both now Indiana Hoosiers for Coach Kelvin Sampson.
Former point guard Ed Berrios is in Birmingham, Alabama, helping Coach Mike Davis try and win the Conference USA title for UAB.
Johnnie Harris is now at New Mexico. Mike Vogler is at Troy. And the shooting prowess of Victor Dubovitsky now belongs to the professional leagues of Russia.
“There is no doubt that the players we had last season were special,” said Chipola coach Greg Heiar. “But I think this team has a great opportunity to be special, too.”
Heiar is not the only person that believes in Chipola. In early October, Sporting News magazine ranked the Indians preseason #1 for the second straight year. And, for the first time in school history, the Indians find themselves with the top ranking in the NJCAA preseason poll.
“We feel like we’ve assembled a great group of guys,” said Heiar. “We have new faces, but we don’t lack playing experience. The transfers and guys that we have coming back give us a great foundation to work with.”
The Indians will look to sophomore Mario Little to help lead Chipola back to the National Tournament. The preseason 1st team All-American, who recently committed to Kansas, averaged 9.6 points and 5.8 rebounds per game last season.
“Mario can play both inside and on the perimeter,” said Heiar of the 6’6 wing. “His versatility causes match-up problems for teams and it really helps to open up our other players.”
Along with Little, sophomore returnees Mario Edwards and Skyler Williams both provide experience in the backcourt for Chipola.
Clevin Hannah, a transfer from Paris (TX), will oversee duties at the point guard position. Hannah has already committed to Wichita State University, where former Chipola Head Coach Chris Jans is now an assistant coach with the Shockers.
“Clevin was third team all Texas last year, and he started for a team that was one game away from making it to Hutch,” said Heiar.
Chipola also has the benefit of Malik Alvin (UTEP transfer), Joey Cameron (Seton Hall transfer), and Vernon Teel (Globe Tech transfer), all of which have already endured the rigors of a college basketball season.
“I think we are ready to find out where it is that we stand,” added Heiar. “We’ve worked really hard in the off-season and in the preseason to put ourselves in a position to take this program to the next level.
“We all understand that we have another step that we need to take if we want to accomplish our goal of winning a National Championship.”