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.