Returning players and newcomers show promise for basketball season

Bellevue College basketball has been going on for well over a month now, and the men’s basketball team has started out strong. Despite a conference loss to Peninsula on Jan. 9, Bellevue maintains the second-best overall record in the North Region of the Northwest Athletic Conference with nine wins and five losses. Of these games, they are 6-3 against teams currently above a win percentage of 50. These include making up two of Highline’s five losses so far.

Despite their record, Bellevue ranks in the middle of the pack in most statistics, although they are second in free throw percentage and turnovers per game. Still, they’ve found incredible success this season. Coach Donald Brady credited the success to a very balanced team. For example, he called the team “lucky” to have different offensive threats, with four members of the team averaging 13 points per game. Brady mentioned that anybody on the team could put up unexpected scoring on any given night. He also stated that the competition plays a part in winning games and how they can really turn up the intensity in game.

Despite bringing in several new players to the team, Brady talked about the versatility they had. The players’ ability to play interchangeably allows the team to play different styles of offense and defense to have the most options when approaching a game plan. However, even a team that is praised for its balance has standout performances.

Two of the returning sophomores, Parker Manalo and Trenton Newhouse, have found success in both the classrooms and on the court. In fact, they are Bellevue’s two best three-point weapons. Parker averages 46.9 percent from the three-point line and Trenton averages an even 40. TJ Jlan, another returning sophomore, is an international student from Taiwan and was a member of the U18 Taiwanese National Team. He leads the team in points per game with 17.6 and 4.7 assists per game. He is a big part of Bellevue’s free throw percentage, shooting 96.7 percent, good for second best in the NWAC.

Of the freshmen joining the squad, two stand out in particular. Kai Warren had a monster performance back in December to lead the team to a tournament victory over Whatcom. He pulled 40 points, 13 rebounds and 7 assists on 15-for-22 shooting. Kai earned NWAC Player of the Week honors for this performance. Curtis Walker not only is second on the team with 16.2 points per game, but is also third in the NWAC overall with 11.3 rebounds per game.

The next couple of months will be more interesting than the games thus far. While their record holds up well, the final standings are counted by in-conference play, which is what the rest of the season will look like. Brady said that every team in the North Region is capable of beating one another, making for an exciting couple months of basketball. He believes the team is well on the way to taking a top-four placement in the North, but Brady is striving for that first seed. According to Brady, they have a lot to improve on but they play an exciting brand of basketball that’s fun to watch.