Imagine the double-takes when public-address announcer Brian Alday announced a player named “Tucson” making shots for a team from Big Spring, Texas, against the city of Tucson’s team — Pima College — on Saturday afternoon at the West Campus Gymnasium.
Sitting at press row next to the Howard College bench, I heard coach Scott Raines yell numerous times, “Come on, Tucson!” The only aspect that could have made it stranger would be if Tucson Redding was playing a team named Tucson.
Redding was instrumental in Howard’s 79-72 win over Pima with 22 points including a 10-of-10 performance from the free throw line in the last 1:15 of the game, which was part of the Pima College Tip-Off Classic.
.@HowardHoops guard Tucson Redding fit right in playing at Tucson in Hawks’ 79-72 win over Pima. Redding named after Tucson by parents. Dad Aaron Redding grew up in Sierra Vista & played football for Buena. Tucson led team w/22 points, including 10-10 FTs last 1:15 of game. pic.twitter.com/BX2FwILEgx
“I feel like it’s very unique,” Redding said of his name. “With my dad growing up here, he just really got attached to the name growing up here. So, just coming out of my mom’s womb she gave me the name of Tucson.
“Ever since then it’s been an interesting name to have. People get it wrong all the time because it’s kind of a small city. People don’t know Tucson like that but I enjoy having the name Tucson.”
His dad, Adrian Redding, played football for coach Mike Hayhurst at Buena High School, where he graduated from in 1994. Part of Adrian’s upbringing was in Sierra Vista when his dad Leroy Redding served at Fort Huachuca for eight years.
Tucson was born in 1999 after Adrian played football at Northern Colorado.
Believe it or not, the first name of this Howard College player is Tucson. His name is Tucson Redding and he is a freshman from Aurora, Colo. First time I’ve seen the first name Tucson. He is playing in Tucson today against Pima. pic.twitter.com/6YfIll7yzb
“When we found out we were pregnant with him, I said, ‘We’re going to name him Tucson,'” said Adrian, who now lives in the Phoenix area.
Adrian watched Saturday’s game with family members, including Leroy.
Tucson hails from Centennial, Colo., where he became a 2-star recruit at Elite Preparatory Academy. Montana State showed interest in him before he signed with Howard College, which also happens to be the school where Michael Lopez, the former Arizona baseball player and son of coach Andy Lopez, is the head baseball coach.
“This is the second time being in Tucson in my whole life,” Tucson said. “It’s been a crazy experience. I actually got to see the city for the first time. It’s been a very fun ride.”
.@PimaMens_bball guard @Gerken04, an @IronwoodRidgeHS grad, made five 3-pointers and finished with 18 points in the Aztecs’ 79-72 loss to Howard College of Big Springs, Texas. pic.twitter.com/jOHakq8yL8
Beating Pima, ranked No. 4 in NJCAA Division II, contributed to the joyful trip.
Howard is a Division I school which fits the mold of what Pima coach Brian Peabody likes to play heading into conference play, which starts Wednesday at Cochise College in Douglas. Cochise is another Division I school. In fact, Pima’s first three conference games are against Division I teams — Cochise, Eastern Arizona and Arizona Western.
Junior college teams can play conference games from teams in another division based on enrollment.
“The schedule is not helping us,” said Peabody, who may have lost his best inside player, 6-foot-8 forward Kaylon Tippins to a season-ending foot injury.
Doctors will analyze the injury on Monday, Peabody said. The best-case scenario is he returns after Thanksgiving. Tippins had 21 points and 15 rebounds in the opener last week.
“Generally, this is a learning period for his players playing a tough schedule, but Peabody said, “It’s more of a learning experience for us coaches because we’re not used to not having an inside presence.”
Last season, Peabody had the double-double machines of forwards Rob Wilson and Kennedy Koehler. Wilson is now at Arizona Christian University and Koehler at UC Davis.
Former Phoenix Shadow Mountain center Malik Lamin backed out of his commitment to the Aztecs before the school year started.
.@PimaMens_bball guard Cole Gerken of @IronwoodRidgeHS does it again. He had five 3-pointers, including this one at the buzzer at the end of the first half, to give the Aztecs a 33-28 lead. pic.twitter.com/nq43ueiI7b
Pima (2-2) was efficient from 3-point range in the first half, primarily from Ironwood Ridge graduate Cole Gerken (who made five) and wing player. Rashad Smith (who had two).
Howard gradually wore down Pima inside and drew fouls by going to the interior. The Hawks went 28 of 35 from the free throw line, including Tucson Redding’s 16-of-16 performance.
Gerken led the Aztecs with 18 points and Smith, who signed a national letter of intent to play at Grand Canyon this week, added 16.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.