Bruin basketball returns for another season, with some noticeable changes at the top.
After a competitive 2018-19 campaign, Salt Lake Community College needed two new head basketball coaches. During the offseason, the Bruins hired Kyle Taylor and Marcilina Grayer to take over head coaching duties for the the men’s and women’s team, respectively.
The women’s team ended 2018-19 with a record of 25-6, winning the Scenic West Athletic Conference Region 18 tournament. The men’s team finished with a record of 20-9 and finished 3rd in region play.
With the start of the 2019-20 season, both teams have one goal in mind: to compete for the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) title.
Women’s team preview
“I wanted the job at SLCC because I am a Bruin through and through,” says Grayer. “I played for SLCC from 2008 to 2010 and loved every minute of it. SLCC is a great institution and a place I call home.”
The Lady Bruins are excited for the new year, and everyone has bought into coach Grayer’s system and coaching style.
“I am excited just to play this season and come out with all our goals we want to accomplish as a team,” says sophomore Hazel Fui. “I’m also excited to be coached under Coach Marci [Grayer] and be [a] part of her first group of players.”
SLCC will try to defend their region title with only four returning players.
“We are a very young team this year, however, I do feel like we have a more athletic team,” says Fui, one of the returning players.
Grayer also believes that there are more players that can score the ball compared to years past.
“As a team, we want to win the national championship,” says redshirt freshman Ashley Scoggin. “We are a very balanced team.”
According to Grayer, fans should follow four Bruin players in particular: Awa Sidibe, a freshman averaging 15 points a game; Scoggin, a shooting guard; Leichan Williams, a center; and Fatoumata Jallow, the starting point guard.
SLCC is currently 8-4 in non-conference play. They play in one more tournament before starting conference play against Colorado Northwestern Community College on Jan. 4, 2020.
Men’s team preview
On June 1, SLCC athletic director Kevin Dustin named Taylor as the new head coach for men’s basketball. Taylor replaces Todd Phillips, who left the Bruins to become an assistant at Utah Valley University.
Taylor has many years of coaching experience and is ready to start winning.
“I love winning, that’s reason I took this job. We are one of the top 10 Juco [junior college] teams in the nation,” says Taylor.
Although last year’s team finished 3rd in the SWAC, this year the team looks a lot different. One thing that stands out to Taylor is the depth of the team.
“Very few teams are as deep as we are … we have a lot of players that feel like they need to prove their worth,” says Taylor.
The Bruins entered the 2019-20 season No. 13 in the NJCAA preseason rankings. Seven players transferred from a Division I school, and only one player, sophomore wing Asa McCord, returned from last year’s squad.
“I notice how deep we are every time we go over another team’s scouting report, usually there is a significant drop in ability and skill after the first 5-7 players. With our team, players 1-14 can play ball,” says McCord.
According to Taylor, some players watch include McCord, redshirt freshman point guard Justice Hill, and redshirt freshman Spencer Johnson, who just signed to play for BYU next season.
“We have the talent; we just need to figure out how to put the pieces together,” says Taylor.
At the end of the day, the goal for the coaches and players is to win a national title. The men’s team have won the national championship twice, in 2009 and again in 2016.
“I love playing at SLCC because I know that I am playing for a chance at a national title. Not many athletes will ever have a chance to do that,” says McCord. “It makes everything a lot more fun and makes it easier to stay motivated for the season.”
The Bruins currently have a 12-3 record and sit just outside the NJCAA rankings. They play one more early season tournament Arizona before starting their region schedule Jan. 4, 2020, against Colorado Northwestern Community College.