More Thunderducks are about to light up the stage in National Association of Intercollegiate Athletes (NAIA) and NCAA programs.
Richland basketball players Raylan Howard and Jared Jenkins committed to play for the University of Saint Mary, Kansas and University of Texas at Tyler respectively.
Addressing the departees, head coach Jon Havens was full of admiration.
“We are definitely going to miss those guys and what they brought to our team as far as leadership and competitiveness every day-it’s going to be big shoes to fill for us going forward to next year,” said Havens.
Howard played as a forward in back-to-back seasons for Richland in 2016 and 2017.
“I feel good. It is just like a long time coming and it feels like all the work I put in finally paid off,” said Howard.
He admitted his first season didn’t go the way he anticipated.
“I really was in my way, but after [the first season] I listened to coach more and just took what he said into effect and bought into what he wanted and did what I had to do for the team and it all paid off. I had a great year.”
He is confident though that his form at Richland is going to continue at Saint Mary.
“I feel like I’m going to be able to come on and make [an] impact right away, just because [of] my versatility on the floor; my shooting ability, my scoring ability and I’m long defensively so I can stop a lot of guys.”
Havens attested to Howard’s resilience. “Ray spent two years with us, true kid that got in the gym and got better. Didn’t play a whole lot as a freshman, worked hard and then the sophomore year was an All-Conference kid for us.”
Jenkins played only one season as a point guard for the Thunderducks after transferring from Northwestern Oklahoma State University.
UT-Tyler’s coach scouted Jenkins last season, attending a couple of scrimmages and in-season games. Jenkins had several offers, but after visiting UT-Tyler he felt the “vibe” was comfortable and suited him.
“I really enjoyed playing with Coach Havens and Coach Bryan, and I really enjoyed playing with my teammates. They made it fun every day,” Jenkins said.
“Jared transferred from a Division II school and ended up having a great year. He had multiple scholarship offers and decided to go to UT-Tyler, great school, great education and very high level basketball,” said Havens.