AC News Service
When the Angelina College Roadrunners take the floor against Blinn College for Thursday's Region XIV Tournament game in Jacksonville, head coach Todd Neighbors will be wielding some weapons of mass production.
Guiding a team picked to finish near the bottom of the league in the pre-season polls, Neighbors pulled the most out of his squad, leading to his first 20-win season as AC head coach and certain consideration for Coach of the Year honors.
Roadrunners Shakir Brown, Deckie Johnson, Ty'Quan Bitting and Deiondray Martin are among league leaders in several statistical categories. Each is a sophomore, meaning they're packing some experience for this experience.
Brown, the 6'7” transfer from Baltimore, Maryland, put up All-American numbers, finishing as the league leader in both scoring (22.4 ppg) and rebounding (11.3 rpg) over the conference portion of the season. Brown notched 17 double-doubles in 29 games, finished with more than 40 points in one game and more than 30 points in three games; hit 39 percent from three-point range; and scored in double figures in all but six games the entire season.
Complementing Brown has been the play of Deckie Johnson, who made the transition from shooting guard to point guard only to see his numbers increase substantially. Johnson, the sophomore from Memphis, averaged 19.9 points and 6.1 assists per game. Johnson wasn't afraid to hit the boards, either, gathering 5.2 rebounds per contest. Johnson scored a career-high 33 points in AC's win over Blinn back on Feb. 21.
Rounding out the top scorers is Bitting, the 6'9” post from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, provided a paint presence to add to opponents' matchup problems. Bitting averaged 11.6 points and 6.7 rebounds per game while collecting at least one block each contest.
Then there's Martin, the 6'4” Columbus, Ohio native Neighbors calls “our glue guy.” Martin became the team's best defender, becoming one of the league leaders in charges taken. In the latter part of the season, Martin went on a scoring spree, averaging 16 points per game in February. Martin also fought his way to more than five rebounds per game.
The four above-mentioned players were the statistical leaders, but Neighbors acknowledges that without the contributions from his role players, the Roadrunners weren't as likely to finish with a 20-win season.
“Different games, different guys,” Neighbors said. “It's also been important that our role players understand how important they are no matter who many minutes they're playing. They're willing to give everything they have in the time they're on the floor.”