CSC bids adios to graduating basketball players
With three games remaining, the college basketball career for seven players is ending soon. The Chicoine Events Center and CSC fans said goodbye to these players Saturday at senior night.
The men’s basketball team will lose five seniors at the end of the season: Evan Brooks, guard of Ontario, California; Christopher Smith, guard of Pasadena, California; Kendrick Holliman, forward of Spanish Fort, Alabama; Michael Safer, center of Elizabeth, Colorado; and Josiah Lee, point guard of Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Head Coach Brett Bargen commented about each of the seniors.
“Brooks is one of the best shooters in the RMAC from both the free-throw and 3-point lines,” Bargen said. “He has become an offensive weapon that other teams have to game plan for.
“Smith is dedicated to his craft of shooting the ball and puts in a lot of time working independently. As one of the best 3-point shooters in the RMAC, he has been scoring efficiently from all three levels on the court. I am excited to see where his media career takes him.
“Lee has been a great leader for us. He is a team guy and is dedicated to improving not only his game, but also our basketball program. His energy, leadership, and recent production are huge reasons why we have been playing well the last month.
“Safer is a terrific teammate and his team-first attitude is one of the best that I have ever been around. He always puts the need of the team and his teammates before his own. His Christ-like servant leadership is awesome, especially when you don’t see it much in this generation.
“Holliman is a very dynamic player that has the ability of affecting the game in all phases with his length and athleticism. It is really nice to see him playing on balance and being more efficient for our team. He has his hands full as a student-athlete, while being an active participant in his son’s life, but has handled those responsibilities admirably,” Bargen said.
Holliman and Safer have played four years at CSC.
“The basketball program and Coach Bargen brought me to Chadron,” Safer said. “I knew that I would play teams close to home in Colorado that my parents could come to.”
After college, Safer plans to look for a “career in the finance world,” somewhere where he and his wife can both find a job. He said he would prefer to be in Colorado.
Holliman plans to be the best father he can be and look into a professional basketball career, he said.
Safer said he is passionate about basketball because of his love “for Jesus Christ. I love the ability to compete for my brothers on the court, and to glorify God.”
Holliman said he draws inspiration from Michael Jordan and he said, “Knowing I get better every time I touch the floor drives (my passion).”
Brooks, Smith, and Lee each played two years at CSC. Brooks and Smith both played at Pasadena City College in California before coming to CSC. Lee put in two years at North Iowa Area Community College in Mason City.
“I was looking to receive an athletic scholarship after my time in junior college,” Brooks said. “Coach Bargen called me last-minute, but I gladly took advantage of the opportunity.”
Brooks said there have been a lot of ups and downs during his time at CSC, but he said he “takes a lot of positivity from it.”
Smith said he was looking for a different scene from the city.
“My family thought it was the best option at the time,” Lee said about coming to CSC. “And Coach Bargen made me feel comfortable about getting my degree if I came here.”
Lee said when his basketball career is over, he wants to become a college basketball coach because, “I understand how a good coach can change young men’s lives,” he said.
“I’ve really matured since I’ve gotten here, as a man in all walks of life, with friends, family, and God,” Lee said. He said he is inspired by his grandpa and brother.
Smith said he wants to be “successful in my career choice, have money, power, and respect.”
“My plan for the future involves basketball,” Brooks said. “Whether playing professionally somewhere or just in the adult league downtown.” He said he also wants to pursue a career in sports broadcasting. Brooks said he is inspired by his mom and his late father, along with “the greats like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.”
“I’m happy that I got to build lifelong friendships with my teammates through these two years that I’ve been here,” Lee said. “A few of those guys are my brothers and blood wouldn’t make us any closer.”
Two women will also close out their basketball careers for CSC at the end of the season: Hattie Guzman, junior guard of Scottsbluff, and Kate Simonton, senior guard of Bakersfield, California.
Guzman redshirted her freshman year at CSC, making this her fourth year here.
She will go on block in the fall and student teaching in the spring. She had to make “a tough decision,” Guzman said.
“Being able to play college basketball at this level was my dream for as long as I can remember,” she said.
“The girls that I have met along the way will always be my family. Coach Connealy has done so much for me, and I know that I have someone who will always be there to support me in my future.
“Being a student athlete in college is not easy, and being able to balance your social life, school, and basketball is a huge challenge,” she said.
Guzman, a secondary math education major, plans to teach and coach basketball somewhere in her future.
She said her passion for the game comes from teammates, coaches and family.
Simonton also played four years for the Eagles after she redshirted at Fresno City College in California.
“I have gained a lot of life experience which will help me in the future,” Simonton said about her time at CSC. “I have a solid group of people whom I will remain close with for life.”
Simonton said she struggled learning how to communicate with her teammates but she said, “I think over the four years, my ability to talk to teammates has improved and allows me to help our coaching staff.”
As a secondary science education major, Simonton plans to teach and coach in her future.
Simonton says she draws inspiration from her mom, and she plays for “the little fifth grader who dreamed big when it came to basketball.”
“I am very thankful for my coaches, teammates, but especially my parents,” Guzman said. “They have been there for my basketball career since third grade, and have made a lot of sacrifices to always support me.”