~ by Tommy Wells
Want to know just how good the Ranger College men’s basketball team was? You don’t need to look at the 31-4 record or mention the team finished the season as the NJCAA national runner-up.
All you need to know about how talented the Rangers were is to know the team sent eight players to the next level of college basketball – including seven to the Division I ranks. To put that in better perspective, more than half of the squad that played in front of a national television audience in Hutchison, Kansas, will be playing at the highest level in 2020.
“I can’t say enough about these young men,” said RC head coach Billy Gillispie. “They came in and did everything we asked of them, and did something special not only for our college but our community and our state. I couldn’t be prouder of a group of guys.”
Five of the Ranger College standouts, including point guard Keyshaad Dixon, guards Coryon Mason, Jaren English, Caleb Asberry and forward Jonathan Jackson will be moving to Division I colleges this fall.
Dixon, who was tabbed the top guard at the NJCAA national tournament in March, recently signed to play at Idaho this coming season. Dixon led the Rangers to the Northern Texas Junior College Athletic Conference championship and the team’s third-ever trip to the national tournament with a steady performance. As a sophomore, the Boston native averaged better than six points per game while leading a Ranger offense that averaged just under 90 points per contest. He finished the season with a team-high 176 assists.
Dixon, who will be majoring in engineering at Idaho, will be joining a Vandals program that competes in the Big Sky Conference. Idaho went 5-26 last season under head coach Don Verlin.
Mason, the Rangers’ defensive player of the year recipient, and Jackson will also be making the jump to the prime time in 2020. Mason signed on to play this coming season with Abilene Christian University, while Jackson agreed to play at Prairie View A&M.
Mason, a three-time state champion at Douglass High School in Oklahoma, will be joining an ACU program that went 27-7 a year ago and qualified for the NCAA tournament for the first time in the school’s history.
The 2019 RC Offensive Player of the Year, Jackson will join a Panthers’ program that is coming off a 22-13 run in 2018-19. Prairie View A&M competes in Conference USA.
Caleb Asberry, the Rangers’ Sixth Man recipient, will also be headed to the Division I ranks. The Pflugerville, Texas, native signed earlier this season to play at Texas State University in San Marcos. At TSU, Asberry will look to help the Bobcats improve on last season’s 24-10 record and help the team make a run at the Sun Belt Conference title.
An all-tournament selection at the national tournament, English is joining St. Bonaventure. A member of the Atlantic 10 Conference, the Bonnies put together a solid run this season, going 18-16, including a 12-6 mark in conference.
Tristan Green and Braden Bell rounded out the Rangers’ list of Division I signees. Green a 6-foot-8 standout from Boerne, Texas, signed to play with the University of Denver. At Denver, he will be joining a Bears’ program that competes in the Summit League. Bell, a 6-foot-7 freshman from Rowlett, signed with Marist University in Poughkeepsie, New York. The Red Foxes went 12-19 last season, including a 7-11 run in Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference play.
Luis Rivas will also be making the leap to Division I. The 6-foot-5 sophomore from Guadalajara, Mexico, has signed to play McNeese State University in Lake Charles. Louisiana. At McNeese State, Rivas will join Mason in the Southland Conference.Maik Bower, a 6-foot-7 international standout from Rotterdam, The Netherlands, will also be making the jump to the four-year college ranks. Bower signed to play at Southern Nazarene University in Bethany, Oklahoma. At SNU, Bower will be joining a team that went 29-6 a year ago and advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Division II’s Central Region Championship Tournament in March.