Scottsdale Community College men’s basketball roster takes form

Scottsdale Community College head basketball coach Mark Bunker watches from the sideline during a game in 2016. Coach Bunker has assembled his roster for the upcoming 2017-18 season. (Independent Newsmedia/Josh Martinez)

Scottsdale Community College Head Men’s Basketball Coach Mark Bunker’s roster got a little more hefty after the team signed several athletes recently.

Eight student-athletes who did not play last year for the school all signed letters of intent to play for SCC on either Tuesday, May 30 or Wednesday, May 31. Of those eight, three red-shirted last year and two are transfers from other colleges, according to a list Coach Bunker provided to the Independent.

This group joins the five returners to the squad, including sophomore shooting guard Will Donovan who suffered a season-ending knee injury after four games last year.

Coach Bunker said with a medical hardship waiver, Donovan should gain another year of eligibility. In his four games, Donovan averaged 12.8 points per game and Coach Bunker said he sees Donovan as his “best offensive weapon for next season.”

A medical hardship waiver allows a student-athlete who has suffered a season-ending injury to regain a year of eligibility as long as they only played in 20 percent or less of the scheduled games and did not play past the midway point of the season, according to the NJCAA Eligibility Rules Pamphlet.

Other returners include wing player Jessie Frost-Dixon, guard Tyler Willis, guard Brandon Birden and guard Daniel Babadzhanov.

Along with the new signees and returners, Coach Bunker said there are three others who have verbally committed but have not yet signed a letter of intent to play. One of those is Coronado High School wing player Ben Van Parys, who Coach Bunker expects to sign soon.

With his roster coming together for the 2017-18 season, Coach Bunker said at this point in the offseason, this group of players is the best he’s coached in his six years of coaching at the school.

“We have scoring, shooting, athleticism, depth, size, and most importantly toughness and maturity,” he said in a May 31 email response to questions. “I am excited and anxious to see this group together on the floor and see what we can build together.”

Coach Bunker’s two transfers include former Mesa Community College guard Austin Denham and former Luther College guard Greg Gilman.

Denham was one of three Thunderbird players to average double-digit points and broke the Fiesta Bowl Shoot-out record with 14 3-pointers made during the holiday tournament. He also was an Arizona Community College Athletic Conference Player of the Week last year.

As for Gilman, Coach Bunker expects him to provide leadership as either as a point guard or off guard. Coach Bunker also noted Gilman is an unselfish player.

By way of returning red-shirts, post player KeDean Toney returns from an Achilles injury while guard Marquise Moore will look to bounce back from a shoulder injury. Coach Bunker expects both to provide defensively and remarked on each player’s athleticism.

Post player Zack Auguste will return from a red shirt after playing his freshman year for the Fighting Artichokes in the 2015-16 season.

“He has gained size and strength and will be a force inside and out,” Coach Bunker remarked. “He will be a vocal leader for us and we are excited to see how he can produce going into his sophomore season.”

The three newcomers to the program are guard Jared Finkenkeller of Mountain View High School in Mesa, wing player Nick Sessions also of Mountain View and wing player Veontray Smith of Apollo High School in Glendale.

A trio of incoming freshman have also all verbally committed to play for the Fighting Artichokes this season but have not yet signed with the school.

Two of those recruits — post player Trevin Crider of Mountain View and guard Kapono Enos of Mesa’s Red Mountain High School — are on two-year missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Coach Bunker expects both to sign upon their returns later this summer.

News Services Reporter Josh Martinez can be contacted at jmartinez@newszap.com or at 623-445-2738

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