Jayhawk Conference Division II Coach of the Year Brandon Burgette, who led KCKCC to its first conference title in 50 years, was joined on the All-Jayhawk team by, from left, first team member Jalen Davis, Defensive Player of the Year Robert Rhodes; and Deron McDaniel, who along with Rhodes was named to the second team. (KCKCC photo by Alan Hoskins)
by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC
Kansas City Kansas Community College’s Brandon Burgette is the Jayhawk Conference Division II Basketball Coach of the Year for 2020; freshman Robert Rhodes Defensive Player of the Year and sophomore Jalen Davis a first team All-Jayhawk East selection.
In addition, Rhodes and freshman Deron McDaniel were named to the second All-Jayhawk team as chosen by a vote of the conference coaches.
Burgette took the Blue to the Jayhawk East championship for the first time in 50 years in just his first year as head coach. Not since 1969 when KCKCC won the old Interstate Conference title had a men’s team won a conference championship.
The Blue Devils then followed that up with a come-from-behind 75-68 win over nationally ranked Johnson County to win the Plains District championship and a berth in the NJCAA Division II national tournament tentatively scheduled to start April 20 in Danville, Illinois. However, the NJCAA has canceled all basketball championships and spring sports because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Burgette cleared several hurdles on the road to the conference championship and national tournament berth – a very late start in recruiting, playing nine of the first 11 games on the road and the loss of two top scorers because of ACL injuries.
Just 1-7 and 2-8 to start the season, the Blue Devils (18-13) rebounded to reel off eight straight wins on the way to the conference championship and 10 wins in their last 11 games.
A 6-7 forward from Cypress Springs, Texas, via Park Hill South, Rhodes was an easy choice in earning Defensive Player honors, leading the conference in rebounds (9.3) and blocked shots (2.2) by wide margins. He also led the Blue Devils in steals (1.3) and had the fourth best shooting percentage in the conference (.580).
A starter in every game, Rhodes averaged 8.2 points and 1.7 assists. His season included 10 double-doubles, 10 or more rebounds in 15 games and scoring in double figures in 12 games with a season high of 16 points.
Davis, a 6-4 guard from Houston, Texas, led the Blue Devils in scoring with a 13.9-point average that was fourth best in the Jayhawk. He also finished ninth in the nation in free throw percentage (.851) and third in the conference in 3-point accuracy (.397).
Shooting 50.9 percent from the field, Davis had six games with 24 points or more including highs of 28, 29, 30 and 31. In addition, he averaged 4.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.2 steals, As a freshman, he was third in scoring (8.1) and led in field goal percentage (.501).
McDaniel, a 6-0 guard from Next Level Prep in Kansas City, Missouri, finished fifth in the conference in scoring with 13.5 points a game. He also led the team in 3-point field goals (68) and assists (3.3) with a season high 11.
McDaniel was at his best down the stretch, averaging 15.4 points in conference play and scoring in double figure in nine of 10 Jayhawk games. In addition, he scored in double figures in 18 of 27 games including nine games in which he scored 18 or more including a high of 23.
Johnson County’s JaQuaylon Mays, was named the Jayhawk Player of the Year while Highland’s Marquise Milton, who led the league in scoring at 18.0, was named Freshman of the Year. They were also named to the first team with Davis, Rashon Johnson of Highland and Lukas Milner of JCCC.
Rhodes and McDaniel were joined on the second team by Kannon Jones and Craig Jordan of Fort Scott and Michael Flenory of Labette while Vinny Baron of Fort Scott, Jacob Baker and Langston Flowers of Hesston and Bryson Dennis and Tyler Garrett of Labette made up the third team.