Men’s Basketball Preview: Former high school competitors reunite
Kurtis Gosney/Sun Star Reporter
Nov. 12, 2013
The 2013 season has started for the UAF Men’s Basketball team. The Nanooks improved to a 16-12 record last year, after going 5-23 the year before. The Nanooks earned a spot in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference tournament for the first time in team history. “I was a little surprised with the 16 wins,” said head coach Mick Durham, “The team really came together really well.”
The Nanooks added five new recruits to this year’s team junior guard Rashaad Allen out of College of Marin in California, junior guard Joe Slocum from City College of San Francisco, freshman guard Damon Cikanek, redshirt sophomore forward John Renfroe and redshirt freshman Aquino Brinson. These players join seniors Pucar, Tica and Baker as well as four other returning players.
Cikanek is a freshman guard from Anchorage who is a General Studies student. Cikanek attended Dimond High School where he averaged 19 points per game during his senior year, helping his team to a spot in the state tournament. The Lynx finished seventh in the tournament.
Renfroe is a sophomore forward from Fairbanks studying Biological Sciences. Renfroe attended West Valley High School where he averaged 18 points and seven rebounds per game during his senior year. After graduating high school, Renfroe was a walk-on for the Southern Utah University Thunderbirds for one year before transferring to UAF.
Aquino is a freshman guard from Juneau who played at Juneau-Douglas High School.
Three Nanook players have known each other since before playing at UAF–Senior guard and Communications student Baker, Slocum and Allen.
Allen and Baker became basketball teammates at Rodriguez High School.
Slocum says he’s known Allen and Baker since their junior years in high school when they played against each other.
After high school, Baker, Allen and Slocum all went to junior college, at different colleges. Baker attended Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, California where he played for two years before transferring to UAF. Baker averaged 13 points, five rebounds and two assists per game and helped lead the Vikings to two state championship appearances. The Vikings were a combined 50-11 over the two years Baker was there. Baker earned a spot on the All-Big 8 Conference First Team as a sophomore.
Allen attended College of Marin in Kentfield, California. He only averaged five points per game during his freshman year, but improved the next year averaging 12 points per game for his sophomore season. Allen led his team to a 16-10 record that year.
Slocum attended City College of San Francisco from 2011 to 2013 before transferring to UAF. During his time at CCSF, Slocum’s team won by an average of about 25 points per game. Slocum helped the Rams to a 31-1 record during his sophomore year and made it to the semi-finals of the California Community College Athletic Association championship.
According to Durham, Baker played a key role in getting Allen and Slocum to play for the Nanooks. “Ronnie really helped,” Durham said, “He reached out and obviously he knew Rashaad because he played with him and with Slocum.”
“I think it’s a big advantage in that they know each other,” Durham said, “They have each other to kind of lean on and support each other.” Slocum seemed to agree with his new coach’s assessment, “I think it gives us an added chemistry,” Slocum said. “And plus we have six or seven returners so bringing two more guys that know each other, I think that’s really good for us.”
“They’ve been a little inconsistent from day to day,” Durham said about his new players, “Rashaad Allen is one of our better shooters and we need him to do that. Slocum has a chance to be our point guard and play a lot of minutes.”