Nine sophomore Blinn College men’s basketball players have signed with four-year programs to continue their academic and athletic careers after leading the Buccaneers to the Region XIV championship game.
Forward Tristan Ikpe (Deer Park) signed with Sam Houston State University, forward Nic Tata (Melbourne, Australia) signed with Missouri State University, and forward Uriel Velis (El Paso) signed with Texas A&M University-Kingsville. Guard AJ Rainey (Gray, La.) signed with Nicholls State University, guard Markus Vallien (Houston) signed with Alcorn State University, wing Pedro Castro (Fort Worth) signed with Houston Baptist University, wing Azariah Seay (Montgomery, Ala.) signed with Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, and wing Parker Gettys (New Braunfels) signed with St. Mary’s University. Center Ryan Pollard (West Bountiful, Utah) signed with Missouri Baptist University.
“Our nine sophomores showed tremendous leadership, were all about the team, and fought through adversity this season,” head coach Scott Schumacher said. “I loved being around this group and couldn’t be happier for their future at the next level. They are all high-character people and I am proud of how they represented Blinn College this season and that they will be Buccaneers for life.”
Ikpe, a first-team all-region selection, was the Buccaneers’ leading scorer and rebounder with 17.3 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. He ranked second in the nation with 344 total rebounds to break Blinn’s single-season record. Ikpe also broke Blinn’s career rebound record with 877 and scored 884 career points in two seasons. He led Blinn with 22 double-doubles and scored a season-high 37 points against Angelina College on Feb. 26 Ikpe was named to the NJCAA All-Academic team this season for maintaining a GPA of 3.60 or higher.
Tata led the team with 1.6 blocks and averaged 6.4 rebounds and 8.1 points per game. In a two-year career at Blinn, he scored 445 points and totaled 362 rebounds. He recorded five double-doubles and scored a season-high 28 points against North Lake College on Dec. 14.
Velis averaged 3.9 rebounds and 2.7 points per game. In two seasons at Blinn, he recorded 277 points and 355 rebounds.
Rainey, a first-team all-region selection, averaged 13.5 points and 2.4 rebounds per game. He led the team with 1.2 steals per game and shared the assists per game lead with 3.6. In two seasons with the Buccaneers, he totaled 761 points and 193 rebounds. He scored a season-high 37 points against Bossier Parish Community College on Jan. 3.
Vallien averaged 8.1 points and 1.9 rebounds per game. He scored a season-high 19 points against Trinity Valley Community College on Jan. 8.
Castro, a second-team all-region pick, averaged 10.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. He led the Buccaneers with 1.5 blocks per game and shared the lead for assists per game with 3.6. He totaled 356 points and 208 rebounds in one season with the Buccaneers. He scored a season-high 24 points against Taylor Made Prep on Nov. 9. Castro was named to the NJCAA All-Academic team this season for maintaining a GPA of 3.60 or higher.
Seay, a second-team all-region selection, tied for second on the team with 13.5 points per game and recorded 2.6 rebounds per game. He totaled 405 points and 77 rebounds in one season with the Buccaneers and posted a season-high 28 points against Coastal Bend College on Jan. 25.
Gettys averaged 2.8 points and 1.3 rebounds per game, while Pollard averaged 2.3 points and 1.9 rebounds per game. Gettys recorded 33 points and 16 rebounds in one year as a Buccaneer, and Pollard totaled 205 points and 123 rebounds in two years at Blinn.
The Blinn men’s basketball team led the Region XIV conference in four categories and finished in the top-25 in the nation in five categories. The Buccaneers led the region in field goal percentage, rebound margin per game, free throws per game, and free throw attempts per game.
The Buccaneers finished the 2019-20 season with a 23-10 overall record and 11-8 conference record. Blinn eliminated Coastal Bend College and Jacksonville College to reach the finals of the NJCAA Region XIV Championships.