Hoping to dance: McCullar leads a short list from San Antonio with NCAA dreams

By Jerry Briggs
For The JB Replay

With Selection Sunday a week away, we’ll take a minute today to review the list of San Antonio-area athletes on Division I men’s basketball rosters and who might have the best chance to play in the NCAA tournament.

Right now, it appears that Kevin McCullar, Jr. and Zach Clemence at Kansas, Langston Love at Baylor and Micah Peavy of TCU will need to find their dancing shoes and get them shined up and ready to go.

How are we so certain? Because Kansas and Baylor are considered locks to make the tournament based on all projections. TCU probably is, as well, though the Frogs likely will be among the lower seeds out of the power conference schools.

McCullar played at Wagner and Love played at Steele as San Antonio-area prep standouts. Clemence and Peavy lived here but moved on to play elsewhere when they reached high school age.

Others from the Alamo City who could make it? Seven-foot-one Vincent Iwuchukwu of Southern Cal and Austin Nunez of Arizona State could be in.

Neither played Saturday night in Los Angeles when USC edged Arizona State, 68-65. According to national college basketball writer Jon Rothstein, Iwuchukwu was out with back issues. Nunez, according to Devils Digest, suffered a concussion recently, and he has sat out ASU’s last three games.

Arizona State opens Pac-12 tournament play Wednesday in Las Vegas against Oregon State. USC has a bye through the first round and will take on the Arizona State-Oregon State winner on Thursday.

If Iwuchukwu can get past the back problem, and he gets to play in the NCAA tournament, it certainly would be a story to follow for fans who once watched him play at Cole High School.

The 7-foot-1 USC freshman suffered a cardiac arrest at a USC offseason practice last July. His status was uncertain for months until he started workouts and gradually began to ramp up for a return to the court.

Then, after six months of uncertainty, he returned, playing his first game for the Trojans on Jan. 12. Iwuchukwu has played in 14 games. He’s averaged 5.4 points and 2.5 rebounds off the bench.

With conference tournaments heating up this week, other stories tied to former San Antonio standouts will emerge.

Jalen Jackson starts at point guard for the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders, who will be the No. 1 seeded team in the Southland Conference tournament. In addition, Jayden Martinez of the University of North Texas Mean Green, out of Conference USA, also plays for a team that has a chance.

Both the Islanders and the Mean Green will need to win their respective tournaments to make the 68-team NCAA field, but both have a decent chance to do just that.

Jordan Mason of Texas State still has an chance, too, with the Bobcats still alive in the Sun Belt tournament.

The Bobcats have won three games at the tournament in Florida and are two wins away from an NCAA bid. They will play the Louisiana Ragin Cajuns tonight in the Sun Belt semifinals.

Editor’s note: This is all I know as of today. Be advised that there will be developments between now and Selection Sunday, which is March 12, a week from today. With that caveat, here’s my list of players from the San Antonio area on Division I men’s basketball rosters:

Marco Anthony, Utah, a 6-6 senior guard from Holmes, formerly of Virginia and Utah State

Adam Benhayoune, LSU, a 6-5 sophomore guard from O’Connor HS

Trey Blackmore, Cal State-Fullerton, a 6-2 freshman guard from Cole HS

Marques Gates, Houston Christian, a 6-0 redshirt freshman guard from Clemens HS

Vincent Iwuchukwu, Southern Cal, a 7-foot freshman center, formerly of Cole HS, La Lumiere, Ind., Montverde Academy, Fla.

Jalen Jackson, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, a 5-11 senior guard from Wagner HS

Ja’Sean Jackson, Abilene Christian, a 6-0 sophomore guard from Wagner HS

Ellis Jefferson, Lamar, a 6-0 senior guard from Brandeis HS

Gerald Liddell, Detroit Mercy, a 6-8 senior forward from Steele HS; transfer from Texas, Alabama State

Carlton Linguard Jr., UTSA, a 7-foot junior center from Stevens HS, transfer from Temple JC and Kansas State

Silas Livingston, University of the Incarnate Word, a 5-9 freshman guard from Cole

Langston Love, Baylor, a 6-5 redshirt freshman guard, formerly of Steele HS, Montverde Academy, Fla.

Jayden Martinez, North Texas, a 6-7 senior forward from Steele; transfer from New Hampshire

Jordan Mason, Texas State, a 6-2 freshman guard from Clark

Kevin McCullar, Jr., Kansas, a 6-6 senior guard, formerly of Wagner High School, a transfer from Texas Tech.

Austin Nunez, Arizona State, a 6-2 freshman guard from Wagner HS

Ze’Rik Onyema, UTEP, a 6-8 sophomore forward from Jay HS

Dre Ray, Incarnate Word, a 5-9 freshman guard from Cole HS

Brendan Wenzel, Wyoming, a 6-7 guard from O’Connor HS; a transfer from Utah

Dalen Whitlock, Texas State, a 6-4 sophomore guard from Clark HS

Players with San Antonio roots who attended high school out of the area

Zach Clemence, Kansas, a 6-10 forward from Findlay Prep (Nev.) and Sunrise Christian Academy (Kan.)

Micah Peavy, TCU, a 6-7 junior forward from Duncanville, transfer from Texas Tech


Vincent Iwuchukwu was one of San Antonio’s best a few years ago. In both the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons, he led the Noe Cantu-coached Cole Cougars to consecutive UIL state tournament appearances.

Carlton Linguard will have two years of eligibility remaining after sitting out the season with the UTSA Roadrunners. Academically ineligible to play when he enrolled last fall, UTSA sought a waiver for the seven-footer but dropped it when the process dragged on into February.

UTSA’s Carlton Linguard will have two seasons to play, starting in 2023-24

UTSA men's basketball player Carlton Linguard Jr. at the Convocation Center on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA center Carlton Linguard, Jr., won’t play for the Roadrunners this season but will have two years of eligibility remaining starting in 2023-24. – Photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Seven-foot center Carlton Linguard Jr. and UTSA have elected to suspend pursuit of an NCAA waiver that would have allowed him to play in the second half of this season.

“It just got to the point that he really wants a full season, two full seasons,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said Friday. “It was just taking too long. It was going to count as a year whether he played 10 games, or 16 games. So we just made a decision to save it.”

Linguard, formerly of San Antonio’s Stevens High School, arrived at UTSA last summer academically ineligible after playing previously at Kansas State. Initially, he was ineligible to be on scholarship.

At the semester break, UTSA was able to give him the scholarship but still didn’t have the OK to play him.

Eventually, UTSA elected to suspend pursuit of the appeal. With the decision, it means that Linguard is expected to have two years of eligibility remaining to play for the Roadrunners, for both the 2023-24 and 2024-25 seasons.

“It’s good for the future,” Henson said. “Sure would like to have him (Saturday) at 3 o’clock.”

UTSA hosts the UTEP Miners Saturday at 3 p.m.

Henson said Linguard is feeling good physically after rehabilitating a knee injury last fall and working his way back from a concussion after the New Year.

“It’s good for him,” Henson said. “He doesn’t have any issues with his knee and (hasn’t) in weeks and weeks and weeks. The concussion stuff is behind him now. I told him the other day, ‘Let’s start treating this like the preseason.

“He’s got some good leadership qualities in addition to his presence on the court. Just need to start picturing himself as being a big key to what we’re doing, even though he’s not playing yet.”

Coming up

UTEP at UTSA, Saturday, at 3 p.m.


UTEP 11-12, 4-8
UTSA 7-18, 1-13


UTSA has lost 10 in a row, the longest losing streak in school history. The Roadrunners lost twice last week, at Western Kentucky and at Middle Tennessee. WKU beat UTSA 81-74. Middle Tennessee won the battle of the boards, forced 21 turnovers, and won, 84-60. Previously, the longest losing streak in program history was nine. UTSA dropped nine straight near the end of the 2015-16 season.

UTSA men to embark on a C-USA trip to Louisiana Tech, UAB

Japhet Medor. UTSA lost its Conference USA men's basketball opener to North Texas 78-54 on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA guard Japhet Medor returned to practice Wednesday after experience holiday travel delays in getting to San Antonio from his home in Florida. – File photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Forging through a few uncertainties coming out of the Christmas break, the UTSA Roadrunners are scheduled to take a bus ride to Louisiana today on their first Conference USA trip of the season.

The Roadrunners (6-6, 0-1) are scheduled to play the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (7-5, 0-1) on Thursday night in Ruston. Next up, UTSA will move on to Alabama to face the UAB Blazers on Saturday.

The most pressing issue for UTSA centers around starting point guard Japhet Medor.

Steve Henson. UTSA lost its Conference USA men's basketball opener to North Texas 78-54 on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Steve Henson’s UTSA Roadrunners hope to gain traction in the Conference USA race with a victory at Louisiana Tech. – File photo by Joe Alexander

Like most players on the team, Medor went home for the holidays. He was in Florida visiting family as the Roadrunners took three days off following a Dec. 22 home loss to North Texas.

When UTSA returned to on campus workouts Monday, Medor was not there.

Like a lot of people traveling this week, he had been unable to get from Point A to Point B on his itinerary. The last time I checked with Roadrunners coach Steve Henson on Tuesday afternoon, Medor was expected to arrive in San Antonio some time Tuesday night.

The team’s leading scorer was due to work out with the team Wednesday morning before everyone boarded a bus bound for Ruston. In a late-breaking development, the Medor travel issue has been resolved.

Henson just texted to say that Medor had arrived in San Antonio on Tuesday night, as scheduled, and practiced with the team on Wednesday.

Another issue of note was the ongoing question surrounding the status of 7-foot center Carlton Linguard, Jr. UTSA, as expected, has forwarded its request to the NCAA to clear a path for the former Stevens High School standout to gain immediate eligibility.

A transfer from Kansas State, Linguard has been ineligible since he arrived this summer. Henson said Linguard fared well academically in the fall semester, and so UTSA has made the request.

“We’ve submitted the paperwork and hopefully will get an answer from the NCAA soon,” Henson said.

Another unrelated complication in Linguard’s efforts to play this season started to unfold when the team took a mid-December trip to play at New Mexico and Utah. He apparently suffered a concussion on the trip and is now in protocol.

Linguard’s absence from practice was a factor Tuesday afternoon.

“That affected our workout quite a bit,” Henson said. “Our guys hit the wall today. We were without Isaiah (Addo-Ankrah), Carlton and Japhet. So that gives us 12 bodies and two point guards (Erik Czumbel and Christian Tucker).

“So they had to go every single rep. Every single rep they were on the court … There wasn’t much down time for anybody. There was just one sub on each team.”

Linguard’s situation could be vital to the long-term success of the team this year. Since he started to practice full speed following a months-long knee rehabilitation, he showed quickness, jumping ability and multiple skills.

Henson said he doesn’t know how long it will take the NCAA to sort out Linguard’s academic issue.

“My belief is that they move a little faster (on requests) during the season,” the coach said. “The NCAA knows people are sitting around waiting on that. But I think there’s a lot of stuff going on with the (football) bowl games, waivers and appeals and those kind of things.

“I would hope (in Linguard’s case) relatively soon. It’s possible they look at it and want to know more information. More clarification. Our compliance office does a great job handling those situations. We kind of lean on them for it.”

Henson said Linguard “did a very good job in the classroom, an excellent job” in the fall semester. That was part of the process, to show that since he has been in school at UTSA, that he was making progress, the coach said.

“He’s a good student,” Henson said. “He’s got a good (grade point average). We just got to show that we’ve got everything lined up for him. That he’s in good standing. That he’s in good hands. That the move here has been positive for him.”

As for Addo-Ankrah, one of UTSA’s top three-point shooters, it was announced prior to UTSA’s Dec. 22 game against North Texas that he would be out a month with a fracture in his left wrist. It’s his non-shooting hand.

If everything works out on his recovery timeline, fans might expect to see the Houston native back on the floor some time around the first of February.

Henson, talking after Tuesday afternoon’s workout, smiled when it was suggested that a healthy Addo-Ankrah and an eligible and healthy Linguard were two of his recent requests to Santa Claus.

“Those would have been pretty high on the Christmas list, for sure,” the coach said.

Coming up

UTSA at Louisiana Tech, Thursday, 6 p.m.


UTSA 6-6, 0-1
Louisiana Tech 7-5, 0-1

A healthy Aleu Aleu is bringing energy to UTSA preseason camp

The last half hour of a two-and-a half-hour practice Thursday afternoon belonged, in many ways, to UTSA senior forward Aleu Aleu.

Plagued with injuries and assorted adversity in his first year with the Roadrunners last season, Aleu showed off his increased stamina in the eighth workout of the preseason. He did it with an assortment of plays during a five-on-five, full-court segment.

First, the spotted up in the corner and knocked down a three.

Next, Aleu muscled for position, grabbed an offensive rebound and scooped a shot off the glass and into the net. Finally, he salvaged the beginnings of a broken play by taking a pass on the move, criss-crossing the lane and then double-clutching for another bucket.

“He might have gotten fouled on that one, too,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said after reviewing the video replay.

Henson acknowledged that Aleu, a 6-foot-8 Kenya native who moved to the United States 10 years ago, has strung together some solid workouts a little more than a quarter way through the team’s fall camp.

It’s a good sign for Aleu, who is coming off a knee injury suffered in January, didn’t practice with contact this summer and only started to return to form when in the team gathered in August for the fall semester.

“I mentioned his name the other day,” Henson said. “When he came back (to full speed) he was locked in defensively. You could tell he was focusing in on his effort. He’s a guy that’s got a really good feel for the game.

“He could be a good player without being an incredible physical player. But it looks to me like there’s a conscious effort to give great ball pressure, and to attack the rim … ”

This time last year, he wasn’t on the court with the team, suffering from an issue with his quad. Once the season started, Aleu was behind in his conditioning. He experienced a Covid setback. Then, a knee injury after the first of the year that knocked him out for the season.

He played only 10 of 32 games. Now, he is finally in good enough physical shape that his natural talent is starting to blossom.

“I mentioned that a week ago,” Henson said. “I thought he was starting to string together some good days. Commented about a week ago that he’s starting to feel normal again. I’ve liked his approach. If everybody walked in with the approach he’s had lately, we’d be feeling pretty good. He’s battling. He’s fighting.”

Camp notebook

Injured and rehabilitating 7-foot center Carlton Linguard, Jr. has started to get involved more and more with team drills but has yet to participate in full-speed contact. Linguard is coming back slowly from a left knee injury. Once he’s healthy and ready to practice full speed, he’ll need NCAA clearance on an acadmics matter to be eligible to play.

Fernando Tatis Jr. returns to San Antonio on rehabilitation assignment

The San Diego Padres' Fernando Tatis Jr. playing in a injury rehab assignment for the San Antonio Missions against the Wichita Wind Surge at Wolff Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022. - photo by Joe Alexander

Fernando Tatis Jr. returned to San Antonio on Saturday night, with the San Diego Padres’ star playing on an injury rehabilitation assignment. – Photo by Joe Alexander

The Wichita Wind Surge scored a 5-1 victory over the San Antonio Missions on Saturday night as a big crowd at Wolff Stadium got a close-up look at San Diego Padres star Fernando Tatis, Jr.

Recovering from an offseason wrist fracture, Tatis went 0-for-2 with two walks for the Missions in front of 7,438 fans. It was his first game action of the season. The San Diego Padres haven’t put a timetable on his return, according to AJ Cassavell of mlb.com.

Tatis first came to San Antonio as a highly-touted minor leaguer in the Padres’ system in 2017 and 2018. From 2019 through 2021, he emerged as one of the most exciting young players in the majors, producing a .292 batting average and a hefty .962 OPS.

In that time, he bashed 81 home runs, delivered with 195 RBIs and did it all in his first 273 games in the big leagues.

The San Diego Padres' Fernando Tatis Jr. playing in a injury rehab assignment for the San Antonio Missions against the Wichita Wind Surge at Wolff Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022. - photo by Joe Alexander

Tatis, who batted leadoff as the designated hitter on Saturday, is expected to play in the field for the Missions on Sunday – Photo by Joe Alexander

The offseason wasn’t kind to Tatis. He underwent surgery to repair the scaphoid bone in his left wrist on March 16, Cassavell reported.

Cassavell wrote in his story on Saturday that the Padres’ shortstop was cleared to begin a swinging progression in mid-July. Tatis reportedly is in the final step in that progression before he is cleared to return to the Padres.

Padres manager Bob Melvin noted that Tatis would see game action at both shortstop and center field during his rehabilitation stint. “We’re going to take that day to day,” Melvin told Cassavell. “He didn’t have a spring, hasn’t played in the field yet. So we’ll monitor him as we go along.”

The San Diego Padres' Fernando Tatis Jr. playing in a injury rehab assignment for the San Antonio Missions against the Wichita Wind Surge at Wolff Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022. - photo by Joe Alexander

Tatis walked in his first two at bats, both on four pitches. He struck out on his third try and popped up to third base in his final plate appearance. — Photo by Joe Alexander

Texas Tech ousts Notre Dame and advances to the Sweet 16

The Texas Tech Red Raiders are on their way to the Sweet 16.

Pushed to the limit by the 11th-seeded Notre Dame Fighting Irish in an NCAA tournament game played at San Diego, the No. 3 Red Raiders rallied at the end for a 59-53 victory.

With the win, the Red Raiders (27-9) will advance to play the two seed Duke Blue Devils (30-6) on Thursday in San Francisco. Texas Tech needs to win twice more in the tournament to reach the Final Four.

“I’m so excited right now I can’t put it into words,” Texas Tech’s Kevin McCullar, Jr., said. “So thankful for my brothers on the team, coach (Mark) Adams and stuff. It came down to defense. We knew we needed to get stops against a really good Notre Dame team. That’s what we ended up doing. And we hit some big free throws.”

Notre Dame’s Blake Wesley hit one of two free throws with 2:09 remaining to give the Fighting Irish a 52-49 lead.

From there, Texas Tech surged on a 10-1 run to the final buzzer.

A key play came with less than a minute remaining when forward Marcus Santos-Silva blocked a layup attempt by Wesley that would have given the Irish a one-point lead.

Instead, the Red Raiders gained possession, Santos-Silva was fouled, and he hit two free throws for a 55-52 lead.

Later, McCullar, Jr., from San Antonio’s Wagner High School, hit two free throws. After a Notre Dame turnover, McCullar dunked in transition to make it 59-52.

Forward Kevin Obanor led the Red Raiders with 15 points and 15 rebounds. Bryson Williams and McCullar added 14 apiece.

Off the bench, Santos-Silva was big. He had four points, five rebounds and two blocked shots. A left-hander, he made two free throws right handed.

“How about that?” first-year Texas Tech coach Mark Adams said. “Here’s a guy who changes his shot. I’d like to take credit for it. But I think he did that on his own about a month ago … He looks a whole lot better. But quite honestly (it) still hadn’t been going in, in practice. We were crossing our fingers.”

Dane Goodwin led the Irish with 14 points and eight rebounds. Wesley had 11 points and eight boards. Goodwin knocked down three of Notre Dame’s nine 3-pointers.

Nate Davis: East Side leader ‘was always taking care of the kids’

Nathaniel ‘Nate’ Davis served his East Side community with distinction as a coach and administrator at the Davis-Scott YMCA. — Courtesy photo

By Jerry Briggs
Special report for The JB Replay

Nathaniel ‘Nate’ Davis spent most of his adult life working with children as a coach and as an administrator at the Davis-Scott Family YMCA, an institution of historical renown on the East Side of San Antonio.

The late Odie Davis Jr. founded the Alamo Branch YMCA in 1944. It later became the Davis-Scott Family YMCA. — Photo by Jerry Briggs

When Davis showed up for a day’s work, he would turn on the lights at about 9 a.m. and wouldn’t turn them out until, well, maybe 7, or 8, or even 9 p.m. Or, basically, whenever the last child was safely on the way home.

“He treated those kids like his own,” said his older brother, former major league baseball player Odie Davis III.

Stricken with a heart attack, Nate Davis passed away on Jan. 4. The personable neighborhood civic leader was 64.

In all, Davis spent 32 years working with the YMCA, including several at the end of his tenure in a fundraising capacity for all ‘Y’ branches in the city.

“He had a way of talking to people to get that money out of ‘em,” said former Davis-Scott administrator Rufus Miller. “He’d be letting ‘em know that it was for the kids. He knew how to get those funds … with the proper conversation.

“He inherited that from his dad.”

His father was Odie Davis Jr., who founded a community service organization in 1944 known as the Alamo Branch YMCA. Originally, the Alamo Y was located on Sycamore Street near St. Paul’s Square. Later, it moved into a building at 1230 E. Commerce.

Today, the Davis-Scott YMCA – named after Davis Jr. and S.T. Scott, an educator — sits on an expansive plot of land at the intersection of Iowa Street and S. New Braunfels Ave. A sign on the brick façade outside says it all, ‘Safe Place.’

The center is a neighborhood oasis, with activities for all ages, including early learning childcare and after school programs, plus education and leadership classes for teens, along with yoga and pilates and water aerobics for adults.

Back in the day, the Alamo Branch YMCA of the 1940s was equally functional. It served a variety of needs.

Not only was it a recreation center, but also, in the days of segregation, African-Americans who traveled into the city and couldn’t stay at hotels had an option — they could stay at the ‘Y’ near St. Paul’s Square.

“My dad,” Odie Davis III said, “would house ‘em and feed ‘em.”

Davis III, a shortstop who played in 17 games for the Texas Rangers in 1980, said his father told him that he worked with “dignitaries and doctors” sympathetic to the plight of African-American travelers to help fund the operation.

In the ensuing years, Odie Davis Jr. and his wife, Nadine, started a family and had three children. The oldest was Norma. Then came Odie III. Finally, Nathaniel was born a few years later, in 1957.

As the kids grew older, Odie Davis III said he and his brother bonded with sports, throwing a baseball around on the side of the family’s yard on Montana Street. Or, across the road, in a cemetary, which also served as a recreation-oriented green space.

“There was a baseball field and a football field over there,” Davis III said.

The brothers also would spend a lot of time at the ‘Y’ down at 1230 East Commerce. Before school. After school. “We spent all of our life at the YMCA with our dad,” Davis III said.

Asked about his favorite memories of growing up with his brother, Davis III said, basically, all of them. “My brother was the world to me.”

Added Davis III, “We participated in every sport that was around. Our father was trying to break that barrier (of segregation), so we mostly had to play within the YMCA system. We never got out to expose our (talents, in other leagues). So, the Y became a haven.

“Everybody used to go out to the Y camp. You had players from the West Side. They had leagues over there that my dad started. It was camp Alamo. That’s where we (played) our baseball and sports, out there.”

Life took on some dramatic changes for the Davis kids in 1975. That was the year their dad died.

Nate would leave town that same year to attend school at Prairie View A&M, while Odie III was drafted by the Rangers in 1977. Odie III would employ the work ethic taught by his father to make the major leagues with the Rangers briefly in September and October of 1980, and he played professionally through 1982.

Nate, meanwhile, returned to San Antonio to follow in his dad’s footsteps, according to the family’s obituary. Not only did he work at the ‘Y,’ he also played for and later sponsored the semi-pro Denver Heights Bears, a team that his father helped establish in the ‘50s.

In a tenure with the team that lasted some two decades into the late 1990s, Odie III said, the Bears won a city title under Nate’s leadership in 1994.

Nate also was an enthusiastic community organizer. He was a principal in San Antonio’s Martin Luther King Day march, one of the largest in the nation. Each year, the family’s obituary said, he promoted scholarship funds for local youth tied to the event. In 2017, he was the MLK commission chair for the 30th anniversary march.

Mostly, though, Nate loved to work with the children at the YMCA. Combined with his father’s 30 years with the organization and Nate’s own 32, the family’s influence in the community at large has been undeniable.

“I think, culturally, it was a pretty aggressive impact,” Odie Davis III said. “That’s what it was all about. My parents (were) always trying to teach us, (me, my sister) and brother, that you got to try to bring up the neighborhood. You got to try to help. It takes a village, as they used to say.

“That was one of the principles that my dad would teach us, and my brother did it, too. He was always taking care of the kids.”


VISITATION: Friday, Jan. 14, 2022 5-7 p.m.; WAKE SERVICE: 6-6:30 p.m..

Lewis Funeral Home

811 S. W.W. White Road

San Antonio, Tx.

FUNERAL: Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022 11 a.m.

Second Baptist Church

3310 E. Commerce

San Antonio, Tx.

INTERMENT: Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022 9:45 a.m.. SHELTER #5

Fort Sam Houston National Cemetary

1520 Harry Wurzbach

San Antonio, Tx. 78209

Taking better shots, UTSA starts to hit a higher percentage

Dhieu Deing. UTSA beat Lamar 79-73 in men's basketball on Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Guard Dhieu Deing leads UTSA in scoring with 17.6 points per game. – Photo by Joe Alexander

The UTSA Roadrunners’ offense hasn’t created as many problems for opponents this year as it did last year.

Last year, with Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace on the floor, UTSA’s foes couldn’t slack off without one or the other pulling up and burying a 28 footer. The Roadrunners averaged 78.8 points per game on 44.7 percent shooting.

This year, with Jackson and Wallace having moved on to seek their fortunes in pro ball, the Roadrunners have forged through some uncertain times, hitting on a 39.1 percent clip and averaging 70.2 points.

After a shaky start, some soul searching and extensive work on the practice floor, UTSA nevertheless has started to become more efficient recently. In their last four games, the Roadrunners are averaging 74 points and knocking down 42.4 percent from the field.

Perhaps not coincidentally, they’re 3-1 in that stretch.

“We’re just getting better shots and moving it better,” Roadrunners coach Steve Henson said after Tuesday afternoon’s workout at the Convocation Center. “We’ve had good starts the last two games. We’re making progress.”

Heating up

Here’s a glance at UTSA’s shooting, game by game, in its last four outings, including final score and field goal makes-attempts:

Nov. 24 — UTSA beats Lamar, 79-73. FG: 25-53
Nov. 29 — UTSA beats St. Mary’s, 75-65. FG: 24-59
Dec. 2 — Grand Canyon beats UTSA, 74-71. FG: 25-69
Dec. 11 — UTSA beats Sam Houston State, 78-73. FG 27-57
(UTSA four-game total, field goal makes-attempts, 101-238, for 42.4 percent)

Coming up

Friday, 7 p.m. — UT Rio Grande Valley (4-7) at UTSA (6-4).


UTRGV played at home in Edinburg on Tuesday night and lost 70-60 to the Texas Southern Tigers. The Vaqueros have lost five in a row.

After the Roadrunners downed the Bearkats in Houston on Saturday, they traveled back to San Antonio that night, took Sunday as a day off and returned to work Monday with a weight training session, film study and a practice.

On Tuesday morning, they did a community service project, traveling to help the San Antonio Food Bank with a distribution at South San High School.

In an extremely positive sign for the team, senior guard Darius McNeill has returned to practice this week. McNeill had sat out since tweaking his right foot against Lamar on Nov. 24.

Upon his return Monday, he did more than expected and then seemed to be back to his usual speedy self in a two-hour drill Tuesday afternoon. Henson said he’s uncertain whether McNeill will play on Friday.

“He looked pretty good,” the coach said, “better than I anticipated.”

A concern was power forward Cedrick Alley Jr., who has been ill the past few days. Alley did not attend Tuesday’s workout. “He wasn’t feeling well yesterday and was feeling worse today,” the coach said. “Got to get him tested, get him checked out.”

Junior transfer Aleu Aleu, who missed all of the October practices with a quad injury and sat out the first six games of the season, closed the workout with a flourish.

Aleu Aleu is a 6-foot-8 junior guard/forward who comes to the UTSA men's basketball team from Temple Community College. - photo by Joe Alexander

Aleu Aleu, a 6-8 junior, played a season-high 22 minutes Saturday in Houston. – File photo by Joe Alexander

Unofficially, he knocked down at least five in a row from behind the 3-point line to complete his workout.

“He’s getting so much more comfortable,” Henson said.

Aleu, a newcomer, is a 6-foot-8 forward, a finesse-type player who weighs only 180 pounds. He grew up in Africa but later moved into the Austin area and attended junior college in Temple.

He played 22 minutes against Sam Houston State and impressed coaches with a few heady plays. He finished with three points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals.

‘The best we’ve played in quite some time.’ – Steve Henson

Guard Jovan Blacksher scored 16 of his 25 points in the second half Thursday night as the Grand Canyon University Antelopes rallied at the end of a back-and-forth battle for a 74-71 victory over the UTSA Roadrunners.

The game was played in Phoenix at the GCU Arena. In UTSA’s best effort on the road this season, forward Cedrick Alley, Jr., led the way with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Jacob Germany also had a double-double with 18 points and 10 boards.

UTSA led by 12 points early in the game. GCU came back to lead by five at halftime. Undeterred, the Roadrunners rallied into a 53-48 advantage with 8:42 remaining. But the Antelopes came back again, with Blacksher hitting two 3-point buckets in a 12-2 run.

Grand Canyon held on at the end when the Roadrunners missed a couple of threes in the final minute. Overall, the UTSA coaches will leave Phoenix feeling pretty good about their progress.

The Roadrunners out-rebounded the Antelopes 51-32 and played well, for the most part, in front of a raucous crowd, hanging in to the end against a squad that made the NCAA tournament last year.

Announced attendance was 6,844.

“Lots to be proud of,” UTSA coach Steve Henson told Jay Howard on the team’s radio broadcast. “That’s the best we’ve played in quite some time.”


Grand Canyon 7-1
UTSA 5-4

Alley’s breakout

Alley made his presence known with a career high in points. His previous high was 18. With the 11 boards, the Houston native registered his second double-double of the year. He scored 19 points and snared 9 rebounds in the second half.

“He was kind of a go-to guy there,” Henson said. “Cedrick has been really, really good in a lot of areas. He has not been shooting good percentages. From two. From three. He’s been struggling. He got it going tonight.

“He got some big-time rebounds. Big-time rebounds. Made free throws, which he typically does. Then to knock down a couple of threes. It was just a great line for him. Played big minutes. Got tired. He was awfully good.”

Coming up

Dec. 11, 3 p.m. — UTSA vs. Sam Houston State, in Houston, at the Toyota Center.

The last word

“Well, we’re not going to try and make our guys feel real good, with the result (tonight),” Henson said. “But the way we played, if we do that, moving forward, we’ll have a chance to be a good ball club.

“We took a step this week. That’s the best we’ve played all year.

Cedrick Alley talks of high hopes and dreams as a UTSA senior

Cedrick Alley Jr., Jacob Germany. UAB beat UTSA 64-57 on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, in Conference USA action at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA forward Cedrick Alley Jr. (left) teams with center Jacob Germany to hound a UAB shooter last year. Alley, once regarded as the top player in Texas Class 6A at Klein Forest High School, is acknowledged as the defensive leader for the Roadrunners. – Photo by Joe Alexander

After experiencing the sweetness of team success in college basketball at the University of Houston, Cedrick Alley Jr. never quite felt completely fulfilled on an individual level.

He hopes to taste both sensations this season as a senior with the UTSA Roadrunners.

In a candid interview, Alley, a former “Mr. Basketball” in Texas at Klein Forest High School, spelled out his hoop dreams in detail recently.

He laid them out there for all to analyze, as fans are known to do.

Alley wants to play in the NCAA tournament again, as he did a few years ago with the Cougars. Moreover, in his second year with the Roadrunners, he also hopes to make a run at Defensive Player of the Year honors in Conference USA.

All of it, he said, makes up a grand plan to help re-establish UTSA basketball tradition. Alley wants that, more than anything, as he prepares for his last ride as a college player.

“It is crazy to think about that, seeing (former teammates) go off and be able to hold up their picture (on Senior Day), and have everyone scream for them,” he said after Thursday’s practice. “It’s going to be a great feeling (for me).

“But I’m not so much focused on that as I am on … winning the Conference USA Tournament, and getting us where we want to go — to the NCAA Tournament. UTSA basketball. I feel like we can get there.”

UTSA men's basketball coach Steve Henson at the first practice for the 2021-22 season at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Coach Steve Henson says he thinks Cedric Alley, Jr., is playing with a renewed passion for the game – Photo by Joe Alexander

What makes him so confident?

“Our coaches have been real, real serious about defense this year,” Alley said. “We’ve hardly even worked on offense. So I feel one of our main goals this year is to be one of the best defensive teams in this league.

“I feel like our defense is going to take us as far as we want to go. We lock in on defense, and we can be in any game we play.”

At Houston, Alley redshirted his first year out of Klein Forest and then played 60 games over two years through 2019-20 with the nationally-ranked Cougars. At that juncture, he transferred, seeking a fresh start at UTSA.

With the Roadrunners last season, he battled through a series of minor injuries to average a modest 6.3 points, but he came on strong down the stretch as the team went 8-2 in the last 10 games of the C-USA regular season.

This year? Alley, at 6-6, 230 pounds, is sort of like the team’s defensive coordinator in the locker room. He takes the leadership role seriously, and he thinks that if he does his job, the team will win.

Also, his individual success will follow.

“I want to average 10 rebounds,” he said. “Points, it don’t matter to me. Everyone on this team can score. I want to average 10 rebounds and be a defensive player. I want to be the Defensive Player (of the Year) in Conference USA.

“That’s my expectation, and to hold the team accountable, if we’re not doing the job our coaches want us to.”

With a little more than three weeks remaining before the start of the new season, UTSA coach Steve Henson said he is more than happy with Alley’s work ethic and mindset.

“I don’t know if he alluded to it or not, but we kind of feel like he’s got a little of his passion back,” Henson said. “Sometimes when you go from being a superstar — you know, he was an elite high school player — it wasn’t easy (for him) at Houston.

“His role was diminished a little bit, and he didn’t have as much impact on the results … as he wanted to have.”

“He didn’t get off to a great start (for us) last year. Second half, he was pretty good. But he’s got a different approach right now. His offseason was much better this year. He’s much better conditioned.”

Last season, his conditioning failed him at times because of circumstances beyond his control.

Physical setbacks kept him from attaining peak conditioning at the outset of the season, Henson said, and then a groin injury in January in the C-USA opener at Rice added to his problems.

Additionally, with C-USA games scheduled for back-to-back days because of Covid-19 mitigation, Alley was hamstrung. He’d play one day but couldn’t get moving on the second day.

It wasn’t until Jan. 23 that he played as many as 19 minutes on Day Two of a back-to-back.

By the time Alley started feeling it physically, the monster snowstorm hit and the power went out in his apartment, forcing him to relocate to a teammate’s on-campus dwelling to stay warm.

“Crazy,” he said, thinking back to last season. “But, we’re here now, and we’re thinking about having a big year. A big year.”

From the outside, Alley’s talk of a title run for the Roadrunners is likely to be met with skepticism.

Ten seasons have passed since the Roadrunners last made it to an NCAA tournament. On top of that, as a C-USA member for the past eight seasons, they haven’t even made it past the tournament quarterfinals.

Alley, however, is confident.

Cedrick Alley Jr. UTSA wanted to emphasize defense on Friday in a 91-62 victory over Sul Ross State at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Cedrick Alley, Jr. says he wants to be the Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year and to lead the Roadrunners to the NCAA tournament. — Photo by Joe Alexander

Even without departed standouts Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace, he believes the Roadrunners’ players are up to the task. Taller at most positions. With longer arms to shut down passing lanes. And with enough offensive firepower to win.

Some of the offense may come from some of the youngest players, he said.

“Josh (Farmer), he’s like 6 (feet) 9 and he plays hard. Goes to the boards hard. He can go get a bucket any time. He’s looking very good on the court, very comfortable.

“Then we got Lamin (Sabally) from Germany. He’s very long. Defensive stopper. He steps up at big moments. And then we got AZ (Azavier Johnson) from Las Vegas. A big body.

“We’re looking for them to come in and give us everything they got.”

Leading the way is Alley, a guy with a charismatic personality who doesn’t mind taking on the challenge of elevating the program from good, to better than good — all the way back to the Big Dance.

“I want to get UTSA on the map, (to let people know) that we’re here for basketball, and that we can compete at the highest level,” he said.