These Player Spotlight pieces are some of my favorite to write about. I have had a chance to watch many of these guys play live, so it is cool to get a small “behind the scenes” look of the type of young men they are. I also like the fact that every student-athletes path is different. You will find student-athletes from all walks of life in the NAIA, and being able to have a platform for them to talk about their paths, has been fun for me. Hopefully you all enjoy these as much as I do!
MidAmerica Nazarene University (KS)
Major: Business Administration
Honorable Mention All-American
1st team All- Conf – Heart of America
Defensive Player of the Year – Heart of America
Led NAIA DI in Blocks per game (5.27)
After stops at NCAA D1 Samford, and NCAA D2 Kentucky Wesleyan, what made MidAmerica Nazarene your choice to finish your college career?
Coach Lamar and I have always had a very good relationship. My dad was actually the head football coach at MNU for about 7 years; so I grew up going to the MNU basketball games and camps. Since I grew up around the school and the basketball program I knew of the strong winning tradition and how much respect Coach Lamar has in the NAIA world. I wanted to not only have a winning season, but also fight for a conference and national title. After I had decided to transfer for the second time I wanted to go somewhere that I knew I would be taken care of both as a player and a person. I actually wanted to quit basketball due to my previous experiences but I decided to give Coach Lamar a shot and I don’t regret it. He has always been there for me since the beginning.
What is your opinion about playing in the Heart of America Conference?
Playing in the Heart of America is tough and I would even say it’s the toughest league in NAIA. Last year we had the defending national champions in our league and they weren’t even the best team. Last year it seemed like there were a lot of “upsets” in our league but that’s just how it goes. At one point I think we had 5 teams in the top 25, at least 4 were in and 1 was receiving votes. On top of that just about every team has some type of D1 transfer, so the talent is definitely there too.
What would you tell a kid about NAIA, who may be on the fence about signing to this level?
Don’t let the fact that we’re NAIA fool you. There are some ballers and dogs that player this level. We are not the bottom of the barrel. For some of us, things just didn’t work out at the D1 level, and for others some just never got the chance. However, I understand the draw of being a D1 athlete; I’ve been there. Is it a cool experience. Yes. BUT go where you are wanted and the fit is real. Don’t go somewhere for the gear or so you can say you did it. Go somewhere where your teammates will be your best friends for life. Where the coaches care about you for being more than an athlete. Whoever is telling you that NAIA players can’t play, they’re wrong. This level is real basketball. And whatever school you decide to go to is YOUR decision. Don’t let friends or even family influence you in where to go. Pick it for you YOU don’t care about the level. If your goal is to go pro I promise you will be found. Get the degree, build relationships, and have fun. This is the most fun playing basketball I’ve had since high school basketball. Enjoy all of it and enjoy the process.
What do you want to do after your college career is done?
After school I’d like the opportunity to go play overseas. I don’t want my time as an athlete to be over with. Every coach I’ve had believes that I can play somewhere. So I’d like that opportunity and I’d like to be a professional athlete just like my father was (7 years in the NFL). I want to be able to take care of my family and provide. However, if that isn’t in the plans for me then I would like to sell Men’s Clothing. If I could work at Tom James and sell custom suits all day that would be ideal. Then hopefully one day I’d like the opportunity to have my own tailor shop. I also enjoy working with kids so maybe I’ll be a coach one day like my dad. Who knows. To be honest I just live life one day at a time. I know what I want to do but if it isn’t in the plans for me then oh well, I’ll just go with the flow. God’s got me.