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.

Once a nuisance, Sidney Love’s brother is now her inspiration

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Where was UTSA guard Sidney Love on Monday night? She was in her dorm room, watching basketball on ESPN, naturally.

Sidney Love. UTSA beat Idaho 76-69 in women's basketball on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Freshman Sidney Love from San Antonio-area Steele High School, the youngest of five siblings, is averaging 9.0 points and 4.1 rebounds in 18 games for the UTSA Roadrunners — File photo by Joe Alexander

“Made sure I watched it from start to finish,” she said.

Why? Well, she did have an older brother in the game, and he was blowing up against the ninth-ranked Jayhawks on national television.

Redshirt freshman guard Langston Love came off the bench and scored 11 points in the second half as No. 17 Baylor scored a 75-69 victory in the Big 12.

“Very proud of him after that performance,” Sidney Love said Wednesday afternoon.

For Love, UTSA’s precocious freshman guard from Cibolo Steele High School, it was just another memorable moment in a lifetime spent growing up in a big family. With four siblings — two older sisters and two older brothers — it’s never been dull.

As UTSA prepares to host the North Texas Mean Green in women’s basketball Thursday night, Love playfully recounted what it was like for her at home when she was a kid.

“Getting picked on all the time,” Love said, smiling mischievously, “having to do everything for them, because I was the youngest. It was still fun, though. We would fight. We had good times, too.”

Nineteen-year-old Sidney has always been tight with Langston, now 20, even when they were in grade school and arguing seemingly over every little thing.

“Growing up with him? We were (like) an old married couple,” Sidney Love said, grinning. “We’d fight every day.

Karen Aston. UTSA women's basketball lost to UTEP 74-67 in Conference USA on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Coach Karen Aston’s UTSA Roadrunners host the North Texas Mean Green tonight at 7 in the Convocation Center. – File photo by Joe Alexander

“We’d get in trouble every single day. It was just, back and forth. He’d be snitching on me. I’d be saying, ‘No, I didn’t do it.’ Just fighting all the time.”

It wasn’t always the kid stuff, however.

“By the time we got older, we were just friends,” Sidney said. “We just wanted the same thing – (to) play basketball … After we passed that (initial) stage, it was OK.”

Both of Sidney’s older sisters played soccer, and both were so good at the sport that they advanced through youth leagues to play collegiately in San Antonio, Endasia at Trinity University and Camille at St. Mary’s.

Her brothers, meanwhile, trended toward basketball. After leaving Steele, Kijana Love played at the University of New Hampshire and at Baylor.

Langston Love, perhaps the most gifted athlete in the family, spent two years at Steele and two as a four-star recruit at Montverde Academy in Florida before linking with the Baylor program under coach Scott Drew.

For the 6-foot-5 Baylor guard, last year was a heartbreak.

He blew out a knee on the eve of fall practice and had to sit out the season. All of which made it even sweeter for UTSA’s Sidney Love to savor every minute of the second half of Kansas-Baylor.

“You know, he’s had some ups and downs,” she said. “He just came off his injury, so this was a game that really showcased him and how he can play.”

Langston Love’s little sister is coming along pretty well, herself.

Sidney Love, who plays both guard positions, is averaging 9.0 points and 4.1 rebounds for the Roadrunners. She’s also assisted on 39 baskets.

She had 23 points and seven rebounds in a New Year’s Eve homecourt victory over the UAB Blazers.

The Roadrunners have struggled as a team, going 4-14 and 2-7 in Conference USA, but that was more or less expected coming off a seven-win season a year ago and trying to rebuild under second-year coach Karen Aston with eight newcomers, including five freshmen.

Love has struggled herself with the speed and physicality of the game, committing 57 turnovers, including 16 on the recent three-game road trip.

Aston isn’t stressed out about the mistakes, though. She knew from the moment she signed the former player of the year in San Antonio-area high school basketball that she would need to be patient with her.

Asked directly if she was happy with Love’s progress, Aston didn’t hesitate, “For sure.”

“I mean, I do think she could do more,” Aston said. “I think the physical part of the game is a lot for her and the other freshmen. And I think some of the teams in our league have really figured that out.

“I think she’s learning every single day. But what I think is going to make her so much better is when she can really take a deep breath at the end of the year and make an assessment, and say, ‘Ok, I do need to get stronger.’

“ ‘I do need to get more aggressive and more physical and take contact better.’ You can’t do that right now. She can’t fix that right now. You know, that’s just going to be an evolution for her.”

Love said she believes the Roadrunners have the time to make a move in the second half of the C-USA schedule.

“Definitely,” she said. “We have a whole second round of conference to really prove ourselves, to showcase what we can really do. Even if they might be counting us out early, like you said, we’ve got until March (for the C-USA tournament).

“It’s not going to happen right now. Nothing’s set in stone right now. So, we’ve got a long way to go to prove ourselves.”

Love said she can’t dwell on her legacy as a dominant high school player in the San Antonio area.

“I’ve learned that whatever work I did in the past, it doesn’t really matter any more, because I have to attack college even harder,” she said. “I could do more, just to be in the same place, because it’s a different level here than it was in high school.

“But I just have to stay consistent. I have to play hard. I need to have heart every single day I come in here, and I’ll be fine.”

Her older brother showed some heart earlier this week under the bright lights of ESPN Big Monday.

It was a performance that resonated all the way to San Antonio and inspired at least one fan of the game, watching on her laptop.

“I just want to do the same thing,” Love said, “and amplify it even more, because it’s great to watch somebody you know succeed. I just want to grow off that, feed off that energy.”