Sinclair CC’s Frosh Does It All
With just under nine minutes remaining in Saturday’s NJCAA non-conference basketball game at the Physical Education Complex, Jamestown Community College interim head coach Xavier Churnac asked Rashawn Clowney to check into the game.
“Guard No. 11, guard No. 11,” Churnac implored from the bench.
Easier said than done.
Sean McNeil, the nation’s leading scorer, poured in 33 points, grabbed six rebounds, and had two assists, a block and a steal to lead Sinclair CC — a NJCA Division II school located in Dayton, Ohio — to a dominating, 107-76, victory over the Jayhawks.
The win improved the Pride’s record to 7-4 on the season, while the Jayhawks fell to 7-6 with one game remaining in the first semester.
“Sean McNeil has already got scholarship offers from UNC Asheville, Lipscomb, Evansville, Dayton and Toledo, and we’re expecting Xavier, West Virginia, Texas Tech and San Diego State,” Pride head coach Jeff Price said. “He’s just a great kid.”
Churnac won’t likely see anyone McNeil’s equal the rest of the season.
“He’s a hell of a player,” Churnac said. “He’s strong with the ball, aggressive with his moves and he doesn’t play with the ball at all. He’s under control.”
That was obvious from the very beginning.
Just six and a half minutes into the game, the 6-foot-4 freshman had 12 points, including a pair of treys. By that point, Sinclair CC led, 21-15, and the Union, Kentucky native was just getting warmed up. By halftime, he had 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting; the Pride led, 55-42; and the outcome was never in doubt the rest of the way.
“The thing we have to do is learn how to play with him,” Price said. “If you have a scorer like that, you have to understand how to play with the guy.”
Joining McNeil in double figures were Tre’maine Gray with 20 points, followed by Ronnell Turner with 19, Nicolas Phillips with 13 and Nicoloy Bailey with 10. All told, Sinclair CC shot 40 of 63 from the field, including 10 of 20 from the arc, and 17 of 21 from the foul line, while holding a 43-28 rebounding advantage.
All those gaudy numbers made the five-hour trip from southern Ohio well worth it for Price and the rest of his crew.
The headliner, though, was McNeil, who started out at a Division II school in the fall of 2017, but never played before transferring to a junior college near his home that didn’t have basketball.
“I have a lot of friends who are Division I coaches, and they kind of highly recommended us,” Price said. “There are no other junior colleges between us and him. He liked what we do and our culture. We told him we put guys at the next level.”
In his 10 games prior to yesterday, McNeil has set a number of school records, including most points in a game (55) and the quickest to score 300 points. Through the first six weeks of the season, McNeil not only leads the nation (NJCAA I, II and III) in scoring, but he also is 21st in the nation in free throw shooting (87.7) and first in the nation with 5.5 3-pointers made per game while shooting 45.1 percent from distance.
“Junior college is a whole different lifestyle,” said McNeil, who will graduate in the spring and have three years of eligibility remaining. “It’s helped me as a person and on the floor as well. We have a pretty good team. We should have a couple more wins — we’ve struggled to put 40 minutes together right now — but we’ll figure it out come tournament time.”
Tyairus Sands led the Jayhawks with 20 points, Nathan Pelissier had 11 and Kenneth Jernigan Jr. chipped in with 10, but the team struggled on both ends of the court. While the Pride shot 63.5 percent from the field, Jamestown CC was just 30 of 77 (39 percent).
“As a whole, we didn’t have any effort,” Churnac said. “Our effort was low. We got punched in the mouth and we didn’t respond. We knew what (McNeil) was going to do.”
NOTES: The Jayhawks were playing without sophomore guard Chris Robson, who has left the team, according to Churnac. … Starting center Jared Fish was still sidelined with a thumb injury. … The Jayhawks end the first semester on Wednesday when they entertain Lorain County CC. Opening tip is at 7 p.m. Jamestown CC defeated Lorain County CC, 106-92, on Dec. 3.
SINCLAIR CC (107)
Turner 7-11 4-5 19, Collier 3-6 0-0 9, McNeil 12-18 4-5 33, Bailey 5-8 0-0 10, Phillips 4-7, 5-7 13, Morgan 0-0 0-0 0, Gray 8-124-4 20, Batman 1-1 0-0 3, Totals 40-63 10-20 107.
JAMESTOWN CC (76)
Heard 0-5 1-2 1, Reaves 2-6 1-2 5, Pelissier 4-12 2-2 11, Sands 9-16 0-0 20, Canty 1-4 2-4 4, Jernigan Jr. 3-4 4-5 10, Clowney 3-6 0-0 7, Rumley 3-11 0-0 8, Gilliam 0-3 0-0 0, Mosquea 1-4 0-1 2, Hamm 0-0 0-0 0, Tchinkati 4-6 0-0 8, Totals 30-77 10-16 76.
Halftime — Sinclair CC 55, Jamestown CC 42. Rebounds — Sinclair CC 43 (Phillips 13, Bailey 9), Jamestown CC 28 (Sands 7). Assists — Sinclair CC 16 (Turner 7), Jamestown CC 17 (Reaves 4). 3-point FGs — Sinclair CC 10-20 (Turner 1-2, , Collier 3-4, McNeil 5-9, Gray 0-4, Batman 1-1), Jamestown CC 6-24 (Heard 0-3, Reaves 0-1, Pelissier 1-4, Sands 2-5), Clowney 1-3, Rumley2-8. Total fouls — Sinclair CC 13, Jamestown CC 13. Turnovers — Sinclair CC 14, Jamestown CC 6.