Coaching often is a revolving-door profession, meaning if one is seeking job security, look elsewhere. Not only is it tough on coaches, but it’s not always fun for the schools that have to hire and fire them. So, you could say McLennan Community College has had a long stretch of luck in its basketball department for a while now.
Men’s head basketball coach Kevin Gill and women’s coach Ricky Rhodes have led the Highlanders’ and Highlassies’ hoops teams for 13 and 16 years, respectively. Both are local, with Rhodes graduating from Waco’s Richfield High School and Gill from La Vega. In a “win-now” society, the rare opportunity to possess job security is not to be taken lightly. Rhodes believes it starts at the top.
“I’ve always thought that MCC has had a great support system in place,” said Rhodes. “It starts with the school president, vice president, board of trustees and athletic director. It really affects the attitudes of us as coaches.”
But success does aid longevity. Rhodes actually played basketball at MCC and in 1998, took over running the women’s program after three years as an assistant on the men’s team. In just his second year, Rhodes had three players named all-conference, two of those unanimous choices, and was awarded Co-Coach of the Year honors that same year. Under Rhodes’ guidance, the Highlassies have made 13 regional tournament appearances, making them a staple in the playoffs almost every season.
“It’s great to get the opportunity to stay around here,” Rhodes said. “I have received offers, but the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Luckily, we’ve had the success that we have had.”
Many coaches prefer to concentrate on just their sport, leaving teaching a distant second in their minds. Rhodes likes coaching college basketball, but teaching is a part of the process he still enjoys.
“I like the fact that I still get to be involved with the kids in the classroom as well as on the basketball court,” said Rhodes. “Teaching is something that I still really enjoy doing.”
Kevin Gill has also brought a level of winning to MCC the school has not been seen before. He has led the Highlanders to five conference titles: NTJCAC Champs in ’06, ’10 and ’14 and co-champs in ’07. Those accomplishments garnered him conference Coach of the Year honors five times.
In 12 years, Gill has placed 48 players on the all-conference team and had two more earn NJCAA All-American honors. Just last season, Gill was named the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Junior College Coach of the Year after leading the Highlanders to a 28-3 record.
“We have had some success mainly because we are doing it fairly, doing it the right way,” Rhodes said. “We are very proud of that.”
Recruiting has changed during the coaches’ tenure. When Rhodes and Gill started at MCC, talking to the parents and high school coaches was the main part of the process. Now athletes play in many different leagues, so having contact with AAU coaches has become a necessary element of the recruitment.
“It has definitely evolved,” Rhodes said. “You don’t just sit down with parents in their living rooms. But in the end, the decision is still on the young person.”
Gill prefers to stay true to his roots.
“I still deal with the high school coaches a lot,” said Gill. “Having coached in high school for several years, I still value their opinion over any others.”
Junior colleges see kids come and go on a yearly basis, many off to bigger things at a four-year university. The faces of the players change like the fall leaves that tell us basketball season is upon us. With the shape that Gill’s and Rhodes’ programs are in, do not expect to see any new faces running MCC’s hoop programs anytime soon.
No. Name Pos. Cl. Ht. Home
0 Tre Anderson G Fr. 6-2 Tallahassee
14 Ricardo Artis F So. 6-5 Copperas Cove
15 Jeff Beverly F So. 6-6 League City
3 K.J. Boyd G Fr. 5-11 League City
21 Ben Brown-White F So. 6-6 Sugarland
33 Zach Charles F Fr. 6-7 Mesquite
10 James Harrison G So. 6-5 Houston
24 Aundre Jackson F Fr. 6-4 Kennedale
4 Jalen Jones G So. 6-3 Cedar Hill
5 Elijah Mayes G So. 5-11 Orlando
12 Alex Mills G Fr. 6-1 Laurens, S.C.
1 Rashaan Surles G So. 6-4 Flossmoor, Ill.
34 Devon Washington C Fr. 6-8 Houston
Oct. 31 SU-Shreveport W, 87-49
Nov. 1 Richland College W, 63-49
Nov. 4 at Angelina College 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 7 vs. Cornerstone Crossroads 5 p.m.
Nov. 8 vs.God’s Academy 1 p.m.
Nov. 11 Navarro College 7 p.m.
Nov. 14 vs. Trinity Valley 5 p.m.
Nov. 15 at Navarro College 4 p.m.
Sun. 16 at Concordia JV 1 p.m.
Nov. 19 at Bossier Parish 7 p.m.
Nov.20 at SU-Shreveport 7 p.m.
Nov.24 Cedar Valley College 7 p.m.
Dec. 4 at Eastfield College 6 p.m.
Dec. 8 at Richland College 6 p.m.
Dec. 30 Angelina College 7 p.m.
Jan. 2 North Lake College 2 p.m.
Jan. 6 Concordia JV 2 p.m.
Jan. 7 Bossier Parish 7 p.m.
Jan. 10 at Temple College 4 p.m.
Jan. 14 Ranger College 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 21 Hill College 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 24 at Southwestern Christian 4 p.m.
Jan. 28 Weatherford College 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 31 Collin County 4 p.m.
Feb. 4 Temple College 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 7 at Ranger College 4 p.m.
Feb. 14 at Hill College 4 p.m.
Feb. 18 Southwestern Christian 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 21 at Weatherford College 4 p.m.
Feb. 25 at Collin County 7:30 p.m.
No. Name Pos. Cl. Ht. Home
23 Sha’de Adedap G/W So. 5-10 Houston
11 Kyera Coleman PG/G Fr. 5-8 Pflugerville
20 Demi Cumby G So. 5-6 Athens
31 Amani Davis W So. 5-11 Cypress
50 Adrienne Drake F So. 6-1 Dallas
22 Diamond Ervin W Fr. 6-0 Waco
10 Macy Lozen PG/G Fr. 5-6 Austin
52 Caylinne Martin F Fr. 6-3 Houston
55 Corinne Martin F Fr. 6-1 Houston
21 Re’Elle Miller PG So. 5-7 Waco
43 Shantrice Picking F So. 6-1 Houston
5 Kaylin Roher PG/G So. 5-4 League City
40 Tayla Taylor F Fr. 6-1 Marlin
12 Kendra Wynn W So. 5-10 Arlington
Oct. 31 Angelina College W, 70-62
Nov. 1 Kilgore College W, 63-57
Nov. 4 at San Jacinto College-North 5:30 PM
Nov. 7 vs. Seminole State College 5:00 PM
Nov. 8 vs. New Mexico JC 12:00 PM
Nov. 11 at Angelina College 5:30 PM
Nov. 15 at Blinn College 2:00 PM
Nov. 20 vs. Iowa Western 3:00 PM
Dec. 1 Blinn College 5:30 PM
Jan. 3 SU-Shreveport 8:00 PM
Jan. 4 San Jacinto College-North 8:00 PM
Jan. 10 at Temple College 2:00 PM
Jan. 14 Ranger College 5:30 PM
Jan. 17 at Cisco College 2:00 PM
Jan. 21 Hill College 5:30 PM
Jan. 24 at Southwestern Christian 2:00 PM
Jan. 28 Weatherford College 5:30 PM
Jan. 31 Collin County 2:00 PM
Feb. 4 Temple College 5:30 PM
Feb.7 at Ranger College 2:00 PM
Feb.11 Cisco College 5:30 PM
Feb.14 at Hill College 2:00 PM
Feb.18 Southwestern Christian 5:30 PM
Sat. 21 at Weatherford College 2:00 PM
Feb.25 at Collin County 5:30 PM