The Blinn College basketball team is looking to reach new heights in 2018-19.
"We want to compete at a high level and be a difficult team to play against, so that translates into wins," said Scott Schumacher, Blinn head coach. "We recruited big guys this season and that will create problems for the teams we play offensively."
The Buccaneers will rely on two sophomore wings and point guards to lead the team in JaQuan Morris (Suwannee, Ga.) and Kai Tease (Sacramento, Calif.). A transfer from Tallahassee Community College, Morris played in 27 games last season, scoring 9.6 points per game and recording 1.8 rebounds per game. Tease transferred to Blinn from Howard University and is a good offensive player who has a feel for the game, according to Schumacher.
"We expect our sophomores to come out every day and play hard and consistently," Schumacher said. "Morris and Tease are both good scorers, and as sophomores they know what is expected of them at this level."
The Buccaneers will look to 12 incoming freshmen to contribute on the court, including six standing at 6-foot-8 and above.
"We have a lot of size in our freshman class and a lot of wings and guards that we like," Schumacher said. "Our freshmen are a large part of this year's team, and as long as they play hard we will continue to get better."
Ryan Pollard (West Bountiful, Utah) and Garrett Savant (Pearland) stand at 7-foot and 6-foot-8, respectively, and will take over the center position. Pollard won a state championship at Bountiful High School in Utah and has good footwork, while Savant has good touch and can really shoot the ball.
Cornelius is 6-foot-9 and can really run the floor and guard his position, Schumacher said. Cornelius led Tennessee Prep Academy to a state championship game and was named MVP, while Velis led Faith Christian Academy to a state championship. Tata stands 6-foot-10 and has a seven-foot wingspan, and brings a lot of athleticism to the team. Ikpe was named Deer Park High School's defensive MVP in 2017 and offensive MVP in 2018, and Dorsett-Morris is 6-foot-9 and can really run the floor, Schumacher said.
Matt Adams (Brenham), Emmanuel White (Katy), and Will Simpson (Wimberley) will play the wing position. Adams led Brenham High School to the playoffs for three seasons while earning district MVP and Brenham High School Male Athlete of the Year honors in 2016-17. White led Tompkins High School to a state championship game, and Simpson was named the district's MVP in 2016.
"Adams plays really hard and has a really good understanding of the game," Schumacher said. "White also plays extremely hard and always has his motor running, while Simpson can really shoot the ball."
Jalin Suber (Brooklyn, N.Y.) will join sophomores Morris and Tease as a wing and point guard. Suber was named last year's MVP after leading his high school to a state championship in New York. AJ Rainey (Gray, La.) also will see time as point guard after being named to the all-state team two seasons in high school and being rated one of the top guards in Louisiana his senior year.
"Suber is very under control and can really shoot the basketball, while Rainey brings a whole other level of speed to the team," Schumacher said.
The Buccaneers finished with a 20-12 overall record in 2017-18 and earned a spot in the Region XIV tournament for the fifth consecutive year. Blinn defeated Angelina College in the NJCAA Region XIV Tournament quarterfinals, 57-52, and then lost to Kilgore College in the NJCAA Region XIV Tournament semifinals, 63-60.
"The strength of our team this year is the quality of individuals that we have who are willing to learn and get better every day," Schumacher said. "I look forward to seeing this new team grow throughout the season."
The 2018-19 season opens Thursday, Nov. 1, at 7:30 p.m., when the Buccaneers take on Lone Star College-Kingwood in the Kruse Center.
Blinn has competed in intercollegiate athletics since 1903 and captured 38 NJCAA national championships since 1987.