CONCORDIA, Kansas — The Cloud County Community College men's basketball team has been the surprise team of the young 2016-17 season, surging to 8-1 overall record and 4-1mark in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference as we near the end of the first month of play.
One of the reasons the T-Birds find themselves among the conference leaders is the play of redshirt freshman Jordan McNelly, who was named the KJCCC DI Men's Player of the Week for Week 4 on Tuesday.
"It means a lot to win Player of the Week and it's a good accomplishment. There are a lot of good players (in the KJCCC)," said McNelly, who added the honor was made sweeter by the fact he had to wait a year before stepping on the court in a real game. "I remember watching everyone play last year and it was killing me. It was good I got to practice with everyone, but it killed not getting to go out and play. That kind of motivated me for this year."
McNelly, who will now automatically be nominated for NJCAA DI Men's Basketball Player of the Week for winning the conference award, has heated up for Cloud County during KJCCC play. He's scored in double-figures in each of the T-Birds last three games, including a career-high 18 points Saturday in the win over Coffeyville Community College.
The pride of Salina, Kansas has a pair of double-doubles during that three-game stretch, all of which were victories for the T-Birds, and he averaged 16 points, nine rebounds and 3.5 assists per game last week for Cloud County.
"I think he is getting his feet back underneath him. He sat out last year, so he hadn't played in awhile," said Cloud County head coach Chad Eshbaugh, referring to McNelly's rise following Saturday's win against Coffeyville. "In the early season games, it was him learning to play our style. Academically, he is a sophomore but he is still a freshman when it comes to basketball. I think what he's doing right now is really impressive considering this is his first real college basketball experience."
McNelly and the rest of the T-Birds will be back in action at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday when they travel to face No. 13 Neosho County Community College.