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IVCC men 'talented guys on the court and in the classroom'

DePue graduate Rahim Strong (No. 50) works against a defender during a game last season. Strong is expected to be an inside-outside threat for the Eagles this season.
DePue graduate Rahim Strong (No. 50) works against a defender during a game last season. Strong is expected to be an inside-outside threat for the Eagles this season.

Sixth-year IVCC men’s basketball coach Chris Herman wanted to bring in high character players as well talented individuals for the 2019-20 season.

So far, he is pleased with what he sees on and off the court from his 14-player roster.

“This is really a great group of guys,” Herman said. “We wanted talented guys on the court and in the classroom and I couldn’t be happier with what I’ve seen so far.”

But aside from high character guys, Herman has some talent that he thinks can make the Eagles successful this season.

“This team is probably in the best shape that I’ve had so far,” Herman said. “Also, I think I’ve put more stuff in than any other year and part of that is because these guys have really bought into what we’re trying to do here. I’m really excited about this group. We have a very tough schedule against ICC and then a couple of Division I (junior college) teams, but I think we can have some success against them. The guys can’t hang their heads if we don’t because those games can only help us come postseason time.”

Of the talent the Eagles have is freshman Joey Murphy from Pontiac who was an honorable mention all-state selection. He is currently dealing with a hip injury.

“He’s a really talented player,” Herman said. “He tried practicing, but is in a lot of pain and will have an MRI to make sure it’s nothing serious. Hopefully, at some point he can play because he’s a heck of a player.”

IVCC opened the season with a win over Morton, which made the national tournament last year and was receiving votes for the top 25.

“We seem to have really bought into the 1-2-2 defense,” Herman said. “Against that defense teams tend to speed up against it and shoot a lot of 3’s that maybe they wouldn’t shoot otherwise. Morton did make 13, but they shot a ton of them and just kept going.”

The Eagles have some players of their own who can shoot the long ball, including Connor Wilson, of Hope, Ind., who made three against Morton.

DePue graduate Rahim Strong is expected to be a threat to shoot the ball or play inside.

“Rahim has really worked hard, especially in the weight room,” Herman said. “He was 290 when I first got him here and now he’s down to 220. He just wants to play and he’s hungry. He’s got to control his emotions at times, but he had 14 points and seven rebounds (in the opener).”

Jacarr Boone, from Brownsburg, Ind. who played one season on the JV squad at Division II Kentucky Weslyan, is expected to be a big scorer and solid defender.

“Absolutely great kid,” Herman said. “He never hangs his head and always has a smile, but the kid can also flat out score. He had 29 against Morton and has long arms that really make him a solid defender as well.”

Reggie Loury, from Riverside-Brookfield, comes from a team that was 28-5. Loury hit 59 3’s before his Bulldogs lost to 4A runner-up Chicago Curry.

Tyler Rodgers also comes from a successful program in Eldorado/Albuquerque in New Mexico and is another guy who can put up some points for the Eagles.

“Tyler Rodgers was getting some big juco looks and New Mexico State was also interested in him,” Herman said. “He tore his ACL, but in high school his team was runner-up in 6A, which is the highest class. He’s another talented kid from a good school who can be successful for us as well.”

Joey Murphy, of Pontiac, was an honorable mention all-state selection in high school and Herman anticipates him being a key player for the Eagles when he’s back from a hip injury.

“He’s a really talented player,” Herman said. “He tried practicing, but is in a lot of pain and will have an MRI to make sure it’s nothing serious. So hopefully as some point he can play because he’s a heck of a player.”

Fieldcrest alumnus Clay Wells joined the Eagles late and provides some size inside at 6-5. Braden Edington, from Terre Haute, Ind., and Vyshonn Munson, who is back from and ACL tear and was in the top 20 in assists/turnover ratio in the country last year, are both expected to be key contributors.

La Salle-Peru graduate John Senica is a player Herman said is a Dennis Rodman-type player who can jump out of the building, while Tyus Smith, a Homewood-Flossmoor graduate, and Putnam County alumnus Kaleb Wright also will see time.

“We have some decent size,” Herman said. “We’re not huge, but we have good length and I think if they keep working hard who knows what we can accomplish.”

Andre Ballard, from Miami, Fla., figured to be a big contributor, but he is lost for the year to an Achilles injury

IVCC returns to action Friday when it faces Lincoln Trail College at the Olney Classic at 5p.m. The Eagles return home Nov. 14 to play Joliet Junior College.

Brad Martin Sr. can be reached at 220-6939 or at ntsports@shawmedia.com.

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