Mesa Community College basketball is coming back in a big way as head coach Sam Ballard has his boys looking confident and talking national championship.
The T-birds lost starting shooting guard John Balwigaire, along with forwards Alex Rudd and Tola Akomolafe.
“When you have three guys of that caliber that you lose, it’s tough,” Ballard said.
But the men of Mesa are not without veteran leadership.
“Travis Timmons, starting point guard from last year, is back and Dylan Crist who played significant minutes for us last year and we have Khalfuni Marks who sat out last year with a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament),” Ballard said.
The T-birds also found quality transfer players.
“We have some transfers. Jarrett Green transferred from Yavapai College ‘cause Yavapai dropped their program. We had recruited him out of high school so we have him, and Asaad Woods from Liberty University which is a D-1 (division 1) back East he transferred in. Elliot (Fletcher) came back from his LDS mission, he’s a freshman, but he’s a mature fella three years out of high school,” Ballard said about his squad.
Coach Ballard isn’t the only one feeling confident about the Thunderbirds.
“We’re looking pretty good and I’m real excited for the season,” Travis Timmons, the likely starting point guard for the Thunderbirds in their 2011-12 campaign, said.
Coming into his second year as a key contributor, Timmons is prepared.
“I’m probably the most experienced player on the team given that I got the most minutes last year, so I am definitely taking a leadership role this year,” he said.
Timmons averaged 8.7 points per game, 3.3 assists per game, and clocked a very impressive 34 steals throughout the season, and with Balwigaire moving on Timmons’ stats can only go up from there in his sophomore year.
There is definitely a shared goal for all the Thunderbirds basketball players this year.
“A realistic goal for me and for the team is a national championship. That’s our goal, that’s what we want, and that’s the only thing we’re thinking about,” Elliot Fletcher, freshman power forward/center, said.
The T-birds season commences on Nov. 8 in the Theo Heap Gymnasium at MCC against Tohono O’ Odham Community College.