The 2017-2018 NCAA men’s college basketball season still has a way to go, with the Sweet 16 Regional round currently being played, leading to the Elite Eight round this weekend, the Final Four on March 31 and the National Championship Game on April 2.
The California men’s community college basketball season ended two weeks ago with the State Tournament being held in Southern California. In the finals, San Francisco City College defeated San Diego City College.
With community college season concluded, the California Community College Men’s Basketball Coaches Association (CCCMBCA) announced its All-State Teams, with an elite group of community college men’s basketball players from throughout the state being selected by the coaches.
This season there were 96 men’s community college basketball teams in the state, grouped in the 14 conferences (6 in Northern California, 8 in Southern California). The total number of men’s community college basketball players this season was well into the four figures range.
Of that large number of players, only 26 players were chosen by the coaches to the All-State First Team. One of those players was the Mendocino College Eagles sophomore guard Jamarlin Jackson.
Previously, Jackson and teammate sophomore guard Nate Hale had been named to the All-Bay Valley Conference First Team, comprised of 14 players selected by the Bay Valley coaches. The conference had 9 teams with well over 100 players on the rosters.
That Jackson and Hale were so honored shouldn’t come as a surprise. This past season the Eagles had one of the best seasons in the program’s history.
The team finished the season with 18-9 season record and 10-6 record in conference play, with a third place standing. The 18 wins tied the 2010-2011 Eagles men’s team which had 18-13 record and the 2011-12 team which had an 18-12 record, for most wins in a season during head coach Billy Offill’s 9-year tenure as the Eagles head coach.
The 18-9 record likely earns the team a spot among the best teams in the program’s history.
While team records are the result of overall contributions by all team members, some players standout for their excellence of play throughout the season and also their role as team leaders. Jackson and Hale were such players for the Eagles.
At the end of the regular season, community college coaches in each conference meet and select those conference players whom they feel deserve special recognition for their play during the season.
Typically, a Most Valuable Player of a conference is selected and also a limited number of other standout players are selected for All-Conference honors.
As a general rule, the Most Valuable Player award goes to a player on the conference championship team, though another player or players in the conference may actually have performed better overall.
Not surprisingly, the Bay Valley Conference MVP award this season went to Yuba College player, Elishja Duplechan, with Yuba having won the conference championship. Two other Yuba players earned All-Conference honors; Jeryn Lucas and Thomas Austenfjord.
The eight other Bay Valley Conference teams had two or one player selected to the All-Conference team. Second place Napa Valley and third place Mendocino each had two players selected; the other teams one player each.
Jackson may well have been the best all-around player in the conference, excelling in both the offensive and defensive phases of the game. Hale, a Ukiah High graduate, may have been the premier defensive player in the conference. But he also hit several key shots and drained crucial free throws in crunch time for the Eagles.
Both players had a “nose for the ball,” repeatedly deflecting passes or making outright steals, often leading to transition points for the Eagles. Both “played above their height” when it came to rebounding, grabbing boards among opponents several inches taller.
Both were “heady” players who understood the game and what was happening on the court, using that mental capacity to further facilitate play that led to positive results for themselves and their teammates.
Though not an All-Conference selectee, teammate sophomore point guard Gabe Howard also deserves a mention. He, along with Jackson and Hale were the team’s captains. Howard was the “field general” for the Eagles, the facilitator, the “coach on the court.”
The trio also excel in the classroom. They are prime examples of the term scholar-athletes in the true sense of word. They each have earned All-Conference Academic honors.
Other teammates also do well with their academics. Coach Offill considers this group of players to be one of the best, if not the best, group of scholar-athletes he has coached. The team is in the running for State Team Honors for Academics which is announced at the end of the school year.
Though Jackson was not selected as the conference MVP, his total body of work this season in non-conference, as well as conference play, did not go unnoticed among coaches against whose teams he played and those who took notice of his standout statistical totals.
Jackson was 5th in the state in average points per game with 25.6, with a large portion of his scoring on drives through the opposition’s big men. He was 5th in the state in steals with 2.8 a game, also getting a goodly number of defections, as did his defensive-minded teammates.
Jackson was 18th in the state in rebounds per game with 9.3, though only a 6-0 guard in a statistical category dominated by big men.
Though the primary scorer for his team, Jackson would also draw defenders and dish to his teammates for scores.
As expected, Coach Offill had many words of praise for his two All-Conference players, both for their play and their academic achievement.
“I’ve never had an All-State player while I’ve been coaching here. So to have Jamarlin get First Team All-Conference Athletic and Academic and also get a First Team All-State nod is heck of a trio.
“His body of work included scoring in double-figures every game. He had a high of 37 points a couple times. He scored 30 or more 11 times. He one of the better rebounding guards in the state. It was just an unbelievable season. To me, it was probably the greatest single-season performance in the history of our program.
“With this team, our chemistry was really good. Our guys understood that Jamarlin was our No. 1 option offensively and everybody else did their part.
“We had great seasons by multiple players. Dashaunte Woods had a great year. Gabe Howard had a great year as a point guard. Larry Bryson stepped up for us as a freshman for us in the middle all season long.
“But Jamarlin did not have one bad game. It was just a phenomenal year for him. He had a nose for the ball, getting steals, loose balls and coast-to-coast buckets. His shot selection was excellent. His efficiency was excellent. I’m just as proud of him for also getting All-Conference Academic with a 3.8-4.0 GPA.
“I’ve been around the game, playing or coaching, for 30 years. He was really, really special.
“I was really happy to be at the State Tournament and get the news that he was selected First Team All-State. The MVPs of the conferences got automatic All-State selection. Jamarlin had to be selected by votes among the coaches. I think he was respected throughout the state as a scorer and as an all-around player.
“He was the MVP of the Modesto Tournament which was a 16-team tournament where you have teams like Fresno City, Saddleback, Copper Mountain, and Cuesta. He was the No. 1 guy in that tournament, averaging 30 points a game in a four-game stretch, leading us to the tournament championship. I think that helped him in the voting as well.
“He was a great kid to coach. Not one time did he shake his head at me or say no. He was yes, sir, no sir type of kid out of Arkansas. He goes about his business. He handles himself like a pro.
“I think if he didn’t get hurt and Dashaunte didn’t get hurt it would have been a whole different season. But for what we were able to do, it was still a great season. Our crowds were good. We had an All-State guy. People came and saw him play.
“I’m really, really happy to have an All-State guy and a player who was also All-Academic. It was a great opportunity to coach him. I really enjoyed coaching him. I’m really proud him.”
Offill noted that Hale almost didn’t become an Eagle. “He committed here late. He was kind of looking at couple other junior colleges. But he decided to come here and play for us.
“He’s had a great two-year career for us. We put him on the four man defensively all year where he was fronting the post on 6-4, 6-9 guys, diving on lose balls and averaging 6 rebounds a game.
“He hit so many big shots on the road. We only lost one game on the road in conference. We only lost one true road game all year, which is at Yuba where we led for 37 minutes.
“Nate was kind of the closer in all those road wins. Nate hit big shots in all of those games.
“He was voted All-Conference by the coaches. There was a respect for his toughness and his durability. He played through a lot pain and injuries this year. I think he missed one game with a bad ankle.
“He had a great season. I was lucky and fortunate to get to coach him. I hope he had as good experience playing for me as I did coaching him.
“He was a great leader and captain of the team. Both those guys (Jackson) along with Gabe Howard were captains, Nate was another 4.0 kid.
“Nate is a great community guy. A guy that Ukiah High and the community can be proud of. We’re proud of him and the year he had for us. I’m really proud that he was First Team All-Conference.”
Offill feels that both players, Jackson and Hale, will find a spot at the next level in four-year colleges. “I don’t think it will be tough to move either of those guys to the next level. Coaches are calling on both of them.”
Summing up thoughts on his two players getting the special individual recognition, Offill commented, “It’a nice when the players get some of the individual accolades and the team plays well.”
PDF and Photos attached
(File Photo credits – Peter Brewer)
File Photo 1 – Eagles sophomore guard Jamarlin Jackson (1), drives for two in a game played during the 2017-2018 season. Jackson earned All-State and All-Conference First Team honors.