At Jacksonville Junior College, about 60 miles southeast of Dallas, a noticeable Eastern New Mexico presence was already on the Jaguars men’s basketball team last year. For the next campaign, the presence will grow and become more significant as former Clovis High standout Jaden Isler has transfered to the school — which will be coached by Portales alum Cinco Boone in 2009-’10.
Isler joins former Wildcats’ teammate Bryce Hill on the Jacksonville roster and Boone moves up from his assistant coaching post after former head coach Greg Young, an applicant for the ENMU job in the offseason, accepted an assistant job at Texas-Arlington.
Boone, 27, is starting his third year at the school and said he is ready for the challenge of being a head coach.
“Being an academic advisor, scheduling the games, hiring an assistant, work with the budget — it’s been on my mind,” said Boone, a member of Portales’ 2001 Class 3A state championship team. “I’ve asked a lot of questions and paid attention. Now, it’s just me actually having to do it, but I feel comfortable and confident.”
“He played for me and coached for me. When he decided to get into the college game, I knew he’d do really, really well,” Portales High coach Mark Gallegos said of Boone. “He’s just self-motivated in whatever he does.”
As for Isler, he feels like Jacksonville Junior College affords him a better chance of being recruited by a Division One basketball school. Last year, Isler played at Lubbock Christian University.
Isler actually already was a recipient of a D-1 scholarship. But after his heart stopped and he had to be hospitalized for several days, officials at Charleston Southern in South Carolina told the Clovis product that health concerns were the reason he wouldn’t be allowed to play basketball there.
At LCU as a freshman, Isler averaged 15 minutes a game at the point guard position. Isler said that Jacksonville, like Lubbock Christian, didn’t have any concerns about about his heart.
“That (LCU) wasn’t a good fit for me. And I was thinking about going with a junior college after this season to see if I could go back to Division-I,” said Isler, who said he was looking forward to playing with Hill, his backcourt partner at CHS.
“It’s going to be cool to play with him (Hill) again. It’s kind of like being in high school all over again. You’ve got to put yourself out there and play well — and get re-recruited,” he added. “It’s kind of like having to prove yourself all over again, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Both Isler and Hill, along with Texas Tech incoming freshman Jaye Crockett, were Class 5A first-team all-state selections in 2008 after Clovis advanced to the state championship game.
Boone thinks his Clovis players have a solid shot at continuing their college careers at another school when their Jacksonville days are over.
“I feel both have a chance, depending on the year they have, to be Division-I basketball players after they leave here,” Boone said. “They’ve definitely got the work ethic and the desire and the love for the game. They’ve got that in their favor and they’ll definitely have a shot at achieving their dreams — I really do.