Sophomores ready to soar into season


Akari Oya

Eagle leaders Keymonta Johnson (from left), Jalen Latham and Isaiah Tubbs return for their second season with the IVCC Eagles men’s basketball team.

Tyler Towne, Sports Editor/Personality

The IVCC men’s basketball team is sporting a lot of new faces this year. Similar to last year, the team is welcoming in 10 freshmen. While that youth usually means leadership tends to go down, fortunately for the Eagles, the exact opposite is true.

Last year, the Eagles had one sophomore on their roster; this year, they boast three

Isaiah Tubbs, Keymonta Johnson and Jalen Lathem all return for their second seasons in the IV purple. All three are poised to see strong minutes and take charge of the team’s offense this year.

Coach Chris Herman said, “Having three sophomores this year is big for us. They all have been more vocal this year and have stepped up to help the freshmen with the transition from the high school to college level.”

Johnson, the second year player out of Decatur MacArthur, will look to help in a major way on the offensive side of the ball. He led the team in several offensive categories last year, propelling him to a second team all-conference selection. Johnson averaged 12.8 ppg and Herman noted that with his improved outside jump shot he will look to have a green light this year as long as the shot selection is there.

Tubbs, of LaSalle-Peru High School, will look to contribute on a similar level. As a freshman last season, he averaged 7.8 points per game.

Coach Herman was high on Tubbs this year saying, “He can shoot the lights out. I believe he may be the strongest shooter on this team, and I hope he is willing and able to lead by example when it comes to helping the freshmen this year.”

Tubbs said, “I am excited for this season. We have a lot of new guys again this year, and I think our team chemistry is already better than last year. We have a lot of guys who can shoot the ball, and I think we’re going to be an exciting team to watch.”

Latham contributed to the Eagles on and off the court this offseason. Not only has Latham improved on his ability to get to the rim and finish, but he also assisted in bringing some new recruits to Oglesby this year. Jalen, a graduate of Avondale High

School in Michigan, brought in graduates from his alumnus including Ty Bland and Vyshonn Munson.

Munson and Bland highlight a freshmen class that boasts a ton of potential. Munson is a big, strong guard who will look to contribute to the Eagles immediately this year. Herman sees him as being a smart basketball player with a floor general mentality. Bland is a long guard who will look to fill passing lanes on defense and knock down a few long range shots on offense.

For the second year in a row, Herman has recruited heavily out of Decatur Macarthur: Christian Walker, R.J. Thaxton and Khalil Brummett. Walker has been away from the game for a few years, but Herman believes he will be able to catch up quickly at the college level.

“Christian is a gym rat,” said Herman. “He is a physical kid that, once he gets back into basketball shape, will be vying for some quality minutes as well.”

Herman also says that Thaxton will be another player looking to get minutes at the point guard position as he is a player that excels when it comes to being a floor general. Brummett has thus far been highlighted as a hard hat, lunch pail basketball player. Herman says Brummett is able to guard positions one through five on the court in and is one of their stronger rebounders.

The other out of district recruits include Chino Johnson from Bloom Township and Julian Jones out of Eisenhower High School. Johnson has been described as a long defender and a player with a good mid-range jump shot. Jones has a special quality to contribute to the Eagles this year, speed.

“I believe Julian is the quickest guy we have up and down the court, which can be a pretty advantageous piece to have.”

As usual, the freshman class contains a few local young men as well, including walk on guard Max Marquez out of Hall High School. The local class also features recruits Christian Harris from Putnam County High School, who has battled some preseason injuries, and Ryan Vandervort of Ottawa High School. Herman has been pleased with Vandervort so far this season.

The two-sport athlete competes and plays hard every day, he said.

Herman will look to defend and win in creative ways this year. By comparison to teams past and around the conference, the Eagles are a smaller team. The have plenty of horizontal length especially at the guard position, yet they are not the tallest team in the conference. Herman will look to switch up defensive schemes during games and offensively look to push the ball and use their speed to their advantage.

The schedule is full of tough games this year, allowing players to be exposed to serious talent. They play road games against Triton and South Suburban, who both were ranked near the top of the nation at various times throughout last year. The Eagles will look to defend their home court this year and battle tough tests on the road.

“I want my guys to compete in every game respond to any sort of adversity we may encounter in a positive way,” Herman said. “We also need to be squared away in the classroom and check our attitudes at the door.”

NOTES: Josh Nauman joins the team this year as a first-year assistant coach. Herman is back for his fourth year as head coach.