Garden City, Kan (westernkansasnews.com)-When Brady Trenkle took over the Garden City Community College men’s basketball program last summer, he had two goals in mind: Win a National Championship of course (that’s a no brainer) and get each one of his sophomores to the next level. And while his team fell short of the former, the latter objective is almost complete.
On Wednesday afternoon, the proud skipper watched as six Busters officially inked their letters-of-intent to play basketball at the next level.
Talan Whitaker (Texas Pan American): Whitaker actually signed his letter of intent back in the winter time, but his presence in the Hall-of-Fame room on Wednesday as well as in the middle of Trenkle’s straight-up, man-to-man defense was vital to the Busters run.
At 6-5, Whitaker is an undersized post, yet you wouldn’t know it from his play. The sophomore averaged 8.8 points and 5.9 rebounds per game during the 2013-2014 season. He scored a season-high 17 points in a 112-67 victory over Wayland Baptist back on November 29.
The Denver, Co. native transferred to Garden City from Northwest Kansas Tech. He chose Texas Pan American more so because of academics. Whitaker plans on becoming a social worker.
Jade Cathey (Wayland Baptist): Three years ago, no one would have believed that Jade Cathey would amount to much on the basketball floor; after all he had just passed up on an opportunity to play college football at the University of Kansas. But as the old adage goes: Certain things in life happen for a reason.
Cathey’s path to Garden City first went through Seward County. The Liberal native inked with the Saints out of high school but was never a fit in Bryan Zollinger’s rotation.
Enter former Saints assistant Brady Trenkle, who’s been in Cathey’s life since he was eight years old. The first-year Garden City coach could have done to the football star turned basketball dreamer exactly what he did to the rest of the 2012-2013 roster-jettison his swing man and completely clean house. Instead, he chose to stick with Cathey, and it paid off.
As a reserve, Cathey enjoyed one of his best seasons in college basketball. He averaged 11.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per contest-quickly becoming one of the best six men in the conference. But even with the numbers and work ethic in place, there was still a question of where he would go from Finney County.
Wednesday lifted any doubt hovering over a young man who’s turned his life around. The kid once considered a castoff, signed a letter-of-intent to play at Wayland Baptist University. It also gives him a chance to be close to his four-year old daughter.
June Johnson (Bethany)-When you’re one of 10 children, it’s easy to get lost in the fray. But make no mistake about it, June Johnson has definitely left his mark.
The sophomore transferred from Friends University in Wichita. During his 2013-2014 season in Garden City, he averaged 6.4 points per game while shooting 42 percent from downtown all while dealing with a nagging knee injury. He also had surgery on his face during the Christmas break.
His decision to remain in state was pretty simple:
“I wanted to be closer to my family,” Johnson said. “This allows me to do that.”
“I felt like I was needed; like Jeremy said,” Johnson added. “It was a good fit.”
Jeremy Wilson (Coffeyville)-The Kansas City native was a shining star early in the 2013-2014 season. With a strong camp, Wilson was quickly inserted into Trenkle’s starting lineup. And it pay dividends.
Early in the year, the Kansas City native was money from the field-showing off the soft touch in a 20-point performance against Lamar. And though his numbers dipped a bit towards the end of the year, his confidence never wavered.
Wilson had an opportunity to play Division-I basketball but ultimately decided Fort Hays State at the Division-II level gave him the best chance to stay close to home.
Rueben King (Charleston Southern)-The sophomore shooting guard found himself in the same predicament as Jade Cathey ever before the 2013-2014 season began. Part of an underachieving Buster squad in 2012-2013, King was wondering if he would even stay in Garden City.
Coach Trenkle decided to stick with the Brooklyn product under one condition-King revamp his game and become an all-out defensive player.
His transition was slow at first, but by the time conference season came around, King had become one of Trenkle’s most reliable defenders. But he also had to accept a new role.
Though King started most of the season, he didn’t enjoy the same success he did the year before. His scoring numbers were down and so was his shooting percentage. But his all-around game developed more than anyone could have expected. Asked if he was still an offensive-first or defensive first player:
“I plead the fifth,” King said. “I consider myself an all-around player.”
You never would have gotten that response a year ago.
D’Shon Taylor (Norfolk State)-Growing up in the Bahamas, Taylor never saw the talent his teammates got a chance to play against everyday. But that didn’t stop him from becoming one of the best two-way players on the floor.
The sophomore, who transferred from NAIA powerhouse John Brown University, had some of his best games during the stretch run. He netted 22 points on 5-of-7 shooting in a big conference win over Dodge City at home.