Who are these Pima Community College players we’ve seen in the headlines lately?
The Aztecs are in the national title game today against Triton College of River Grove, Ill., for their level of junior college hoops and you probably know nothing about them.
No. 2-seeded Pima is 31-4 and averaging a whopping 102.9 points per game. They have wins in the NJCAA Division II national tournament this week by scores of 108-84 over College of Southern Maryland, 103-88 over Highland (Kansas) Community College and 102-94 over Delta College (Michigan).
The scoring rampage is even more incredible because Pima lost two of its last four games in the regular season while averaging only 83 points. They have scored at least 102 points in four of the five games in the postseason, the lone time below that mark a 73-70 win over Phoenix College in the NJCAA Region I finals that enabled the Aztecs to reach the national tournament.
Tonight’s game at Danville, Ill., against top-seeded Triton (32-4) will be a very tough task for Pima.
It will be a practical home game for Triton, which is located at a Chicago suburb about only 186 miles from Danville. Moreover, Triton is allowing opponents to score only 59.3 points a game this season and just 65.7 in the the national tournament this week.
WAYS TO ACCESS TONIGHT’S GAME
Streaming video: NJCAATV.com ($4.99 fee)
Streaming radio: WRRG 88.9FM, Triton College Radio
Pima is coached by Brian Peabody, a staple in the Tucson hoops scene the last three decades.
An Arizona graduate with a bachelors in Education, Peabody has more than 400 wins in his career in junior college and high school levels. He has heading coaching stops at Green Fields Country Day (1990-1992), St. Gregory College Prep (1992-1993), Salpointe Catholic High School (1993-2003), Pima Community College (2003-2004 and 2013 to present) and Ironwood Ridge High School (2007-2013).
Peabody has coached Pima to back-to-back NJCAA Region I, Division II championships. In 2017, his team finished in the Elite Eight at the NJCAA Division II Tournament. As a high school coach, he has two state championships, five state championship game appearances, six state final four appearances, 13 regional tournament titles, 12 region titles and six coach of the year awards.
More than 100 of Peabody’s former players have gone on to play at the junior college level and with NAIA and NCAA Division I programs.
Twenty players are listed on Pima’s roster, 13 of whom are from Southern Arizona.
Of the 10 regulars (those who average double-digit minutes), five are from the Tucson area, including leading scorer Keven Biggs (17.3 points per game) of Cienega. Fellow Cienega grad Isaiah Murphy is the third-leading scorer at 15.9 points a game, and the second-leading scorer is from Cholla High School — Abram Carrasco (16.9 points per game).
The roster also has a player from Congo, Africa, by way of Raymond S. Kellis High School in Glendale (Ilunga Moise) and also from Fairbanks, Alaska (Jeremiah Bailey) and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s hometown — Chester, Pa. (Isaiah Warren).
Freshman guard Nik Nehls, son of former Arizona standout Joe Nehls, is also part of the team.
Here are Pima’s regular players (taken from Pima’s Web site):
RECRUITING NOTE: According to VerbalCommits.com, Biggs has scholarship offers from Minnesota State-Moorhead, Eastern New Mexico, Western New Mexico, Concordia (Ore.) College and Colorado Christian.
RECRUITING NOTE: According to VerbalCommits.com, Murphy has scholarship offers from Minnesota State-Moorhead, Eastern New Mexico and Concordia (Ore.) College.
RECRUITING NOTE: According to VerbalCommits.com, Travis has scholarship offers from Cal State East Bay, Colorado Christian and Concordia (Ore.) College.
NOTE: Moise is a Glendale product who transferred from Western New Mexico after redshirting the 2015-16 season.