By Ray Hamill — Jon Nchekwuke has joined some pretty elite company in his first season at College of the Redwoods, as several Corsairs received all-conference recognition this week.
The Portland native was named MVP of the Golden Valley Conference on Thursday after helping the CR men win a second straight conference championship.
Nchekwuke also has been named to the all-state first team, becoming just the fourth player in program history to be so, and following in the footsteps of local legends Issac Gildea, Colt Mathews and Thomas Nelson.
“His impact on each game is just so pronounced,” head coach Ryan Bisio said.
Nchekwuke led the conference in rebounds with 14.4 a game and was second in scoring with 16.7 points a game and second in field goal percentage with 60.5.
The freshman from Portland was one of six Corsairs recognized by the league.
Donald Willis, Drew Gillette and Zac Claus were all named to the all-conference team for the second time, while Bradley Willis was named to the GVC All-Defensive Team for the second time.
And rounding out a very good week of awards for the team, Bisio was named GVC Coach of the Year.
Claus, who set a new career assists record at the school earlier this season, led the conference with 7.7 assists a game, which was well ahead of the rest of the field, while Donald Willis was tied for fourth in the same category with 3.8 a game.
The question now, however, is whether the CR men will get to host a playoff game in what is shaping to be a very deep playoff field in the wake of COVID after an abundance of players received an extra year of eligibility at the collegiate level.
The Corsairs will find out their playoff fate on Sunday, but Bisio is uncertain whether they will receive a top-13 seed and automatic qualification for the 16-team NorCal tournament.
If the Corsairs receive a 14 or 15 seed, they will host one of three men’s play-in games on Tuesday, but if they get a 13 seed they will travel for their playoff opener on Thursday.
“The North is so loaded,” Bisio said. “To think that a team can be 20-5 and still be in a play-in game is head scratching.”
No matter what seed they receive or opponent they have to play, Bisio is confident the team is playing its best ball of the season at a very opportune time.
“We couldn’t be playing better ball right now,” said the coach, whose team closed out the regular season with nine straight wins. “All indications are we are peaking at the right time. We’re ready to go, we’re playing with a lot of confidence.”
The Corsairs set a school record with 24 3-pointers while scoring a season-high in points in a 110-56 win against Lassen on Wednesday.
Nchekwube is one of just 10 players in NorCal to be named on the all-state first team.