Where Do We Go Now?

For many players, junior college basketball represents the final stop of their basketball careers. For some others, however, it is merely a jumping off point. Junior college basketball is a limbo space filled with players who excelled in high school, but were unable to find a lucrative scholarship at a Division-I school. The Moraine Valley Cyclones are no stranger to this process.

Former Cyclone Richaun Holmes used his junior college experience as a springboard to Bowling Green University. From there, he was drafted in the second round of the 2015 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers.

In an interview earlier this season, head coach Anthony Amarino said he thinks “three or four kids” on this roster could play elsewhere and says his “offense-friendly system allows players to showcase their skills.”

However, only having two years of eligibility on the junior college level puts even more pressure on athletes to show improvement from their high school careers.For many junior college players, this time is largely spent trying to improve their all-around abilities.

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Tommy Demogerontas wins the tipoff against McHenry County earlier this season. Demogerontas will play for Northern Illinois University next year.  (Photo Credit: Ryan Witry)

Indeed, junior college basketball is much less about the team as much as it’s about the individual improving their own game. Luke Hook says the biggest difference between high school basketball and junior college basketball are the relationships between players. “You don’t have as strong of relationships,” Hook said “you only know them for one or two years.” Because of the limited time spent as a team, Hook says that it hurts team performance.

 

Philadelphia 76er Richaun Holmes during his time with Moraine Valley. He was able to convert his time with the Cyclones into a scholarship with Bowling Green. (Photo courtesy Moraine Valley)

Jordan Radcliff is trying to follow in Holmes’ footsteps. Radcliff, formerly of Ohio State University, said he “had to get back on the court, so I transferred to Moraine.” When he left high school, Radcliff said “my body wasn’t ready for the next level. I’ve gained a lot of weight, I grew a few inches, and my game is more complete now.”

Radcliff said coming to Moraine Valley also helped, but “it’s more so the process helped me.” Radcliff mentioned the sacrifice he took leaving a major program like Ohio State to get more consistent minutes at the junior college level.

For Radcliff, Richaun Holmes’ story is an inspiration. “It’s cool to see someone who was once in your shoes to make it that far,” Radcliff said “playing professional basketball is definitely a life long goal.”

While Radcliff declined to go into detail about his recruiting process, he mentioned he is “getting a ton of Division II interest… even some Division I interest.” While he hasn’t committed anywhere, Radcliff says getting time on the court is a priority for him. Athletes don’t typically leave a Division I program, much less a major program like Ohio State, for Moraine Valley.

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Jordan Radcliff  (11,) passes the ball to Jason Roland. Radcliff is looking for an opportunity to play elsewhere next season. (Photo Credit: Ryan Witry)

Needless to say, this is a major risk for Radcliff as an athlete, but one Radcliff likely needed to take. As Richaun Holmes proved, athletes don’t need to go to a major university to improve your draft stock. NBA scouts will find talent, whether it’s at Moraine Valley, Ohio State, or Bowling Green.

However, that path isn’t for everyone. Hook said he won’t play on in college next year, saying “I thought about it but it’s just something I don’t want to pursue anymore.” To that end, Hook says that most players are planning on quitting. However, Hook agrees that Moraine Valley helps players who want to move on, saying it’s “not a bad option.”

Will one of these current Cyclones be the next Richaun Holmes? That remains to be seen, but their junior college experience has been crucial in their development as basketball players. Whether that’s getting taller, stronger, faster, or simply being a good teammate, the extra two years spent at this level has been critical for their recruiting and development.

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