With several returners from last year’s conference championship team, a slew of experienced newcomers and a motivated new head coach, the Moraine Valley Community College men’s basketball team is ready to repeat that success and go further in 2023-24.
After a successful 2022-23 season that included an Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference championship, a 25-6 overall record, a team that averaged 83.5 points per game, several individual honors and a narrow loss in the Region 4 semifinals, the Cyclones are returning stronger with more experienced players and Kyle Huppe leading the program. Huppe was the Cyclones assistant coach for four years prior to becoming head coach this summer. He knows the ins and outs of NJCAA basketball and is eager to get his team moving.
“I’m excited and hopeful. This is my fifth year here, and this is the closest group we’ve had. Everyone genuinely gets along. They hang around in the gym or weight room, which is different from the past. That’s big. It means they’re excited,” Huppe said.
The Cyclones have seven returners, four of whom were frequently in the rotation. Enari Thomas (6-1/guard/John Marshall Metropolitan) was one of the leading scorers last year, earning All-Conference second team honors. Javonte McKenzie (6-4/guard/Corliss), who earned 2022-23 All-Conference honorable mention, Luis Acevedo (6-3/guard/Homewood-Flossmoor) and Davion Lawrence (6-6/forward/Oak Lawn) also are back. Brothers David Reyes (5-8/guard/Oak Lawn) and Nicco Reyes (5-10/guard/Oak Lawn) along with Ahmad Jarad (5-11/guard/Stagg) return to the lineup this season, as well.
Three newcomers with prior college-playing experience joined the Cyclones this season. Deven Jiles (Richards), a 6-6 guard/forward, went to a prep school in Canada and should make a big impact. Demarion Owens (Chicago Bulls College Prep), a 6-3 guard, played ball at a community college in a tough conference in California. Juvon Crawford (Westinghouse), a 6-2 guard, played one season at Elgin Community College before transferring. There are only four true freshmen, but this combination of players should yield success.
To prepare, coaches are making practices harder than games with competitive drills to toughen up the team, Huppe explained. The goal is to get the players ready to go into any game unsurprised, with the ultimate goal being to compete in the national tournament.
The last two years, the Cyclones have gotten tripped up in the Region 4 semifinals, and Huppe wants his crew to see the high-level talent and be more competitive.
“They’re taking the identity of not wanting to lose. We want to win. Some of our players have had that mentality but not all the guys. Everyone on this team wants it. Our returners want to take it up a notch,” Huppe noted. “If they go out and play hard every game, it doesn’t matter what the score is. There will be better teams than us, but if they go all out every time, I can’t be mad at that.”
Huppe will be joined by returning assistant coach of nine years, Aaron Green, along with newcomer Cornelius Crossley. “These guys have years of experience, so we’re a good collective group. Aaron is great with the players, and Coach Corn has a good eye,” Huppe added. “It’s an ‘us’ not me and them team.”
The Cyclones season and home opener is Thursday, Nov. 2, 7:15 p.m., against Governors State University JV.
For updates on Cyclones Athletics and to view the full schedule, visit mvcyclones.com.
For news media inquiries, contact Maura Vizza, Moraine Valley communications specialist and sports information coordinator, at (708) 974-5742 or Vizzam@morainevalley.edu.