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Basketball Programs Building Foundations for League Success

by Marco Santana

Sam Vincent rattles off an impressive list of his basketball experiences. Coaching in the Olympics. Winning an NBA championship with the Celtics in 1986. Passing NBA Hall of Famer and legend Magic Johnson’s scoring total at Michigan State University.

Now, however, he has a role that he says surpasses all of those milestones: men’s basketball coach at Beacon College.

“There’s been a lot of amazing basketball opportunities during my career,” he said. “And I rank this right at the top because we are growing this population of kids through basketball in a way that will impact them for the rest of their lives and that, to me, is very important.”

This was the second season for Vincent, but the school’s first as a member of the United States Collegiate Athletic Association. The national organization includes more than 70 mostly small colleges, including community and junior colleges.

The season results, Vincent said, provide a strong foundation to grow and build a program on.

“This was a successful overall first year of competitive basketball,” said Vincent, whose squad ended the season winning eight of its last nine games after a 3-3 start to finish 11-4. “We are going to make Beacon College a very successful competitive sports program and we feel that it will have a wide benefit to not only the players but to the student population and, ultimately, the school.”

The in-season growth came after the Blazers traveled to Michigan — familiar territory for the former Spartan point guard and first-round NBA pick. The players spent time together there, taking part in workshops and learning experiences while bonding as a team. When they returned to the court, they were a different team, rattling off that season-ending streak.

Vincent said the team’s momentum would have sustained had the season not ended. That sets Beacon College up for higher expectations next year, he said.

“It took us sometime early in the year to really figure out the system but after we did that, we were strong,” he said. “If we had played another 10 games, we probably would have gone 8-2 over those 10. But we had an exciting year and the guys played really well.”

Room for Growth on the Women’s Side

While the men’s team chalked up a string of wins to close out the season, the Lady Blazers’ team went through what interim coach Gabe Watson called a foundational season.
While the team finished its inaugural USCAA season winless, just the fact that the team endured and persevered will be important for the program’s future.

“We had senior girls establish a foundation for the future of women’s basketball here at the school,” said Watson, who also serves as the school’s athletic director. “They never gave up, always fought to the end and gave max effort all the time.”

In the wake of the departure of the former women’s basketball coach in midseason, Watson said the school will likely seek a new coach before next season.

“If we would have canceled games, that would have hurt us for the next year,” he said. “Just showing up and competing makes it possible for this to continue.” That will help Beacon College President George Hagerty achieve his vision of a thriving sports program that offers as many intercollegiate options as other schools, Watson said.

“We want to match those same experiences that other schools have and support a wide range of sports here at Beacon,” he said. “This is where you get school pride.”

In particular, Watson praised the efforts of senior Kylee Davis, one of the leaders who kept the team hustling and moving forward despite the results.

“What she did for women’s basketball was enormous,” he said. “She did so much behind the scenes to keep the team going and went to incredible lengths to help the college.” Watson said Davis’ determination to help the team and working behind the scenes to try to bring in recruits was unwavering. “She was always looking to make things better,” he said.


Learn more about our Athletics teams: Basketball, Cross Country and Track, Golf, and Tennis! Students with learning differences can participate in our athletic programs and compete in the USCAA.