2011 College of the Ozarks Men’s Basketball Prospectus
With eight returning players and one of Coach Shepherd’s most decorated recruiting classes in his nine seasons at College of the Ozarks, the Bobcats have yet again initiated high expectations for the upcoming season. Last season the Bobcats made a classic “Cinderella story” surge to the final four in the NAIA National Tournament, beating out the nationally ranked number one team in the second round before falling to the University of Saint Francis, ending the season with a record of 24-12. With the outstanding depth and defensive inclination this season’s team has to offer, Coach Shepherd believes this team has the ability to be one of the most balanced men’s team in several seasons.
At 6’6, junior Mike Wiebe will play a large offensive role in the success of the Bobcats. A two-time All-American averaging just over 18 points per contest last season, Coach Shepherd expects Wiebe to be a strong scorer and take control of rebounds. Weston Wiebe, a senior from Lawrence, Kansas, is returning from an outstanding junior season. The 6’4 forward has spent the summer fine-tuning his jump shot; with his physical strength, Weston Wiebe will not only play a major defensive role but be a key scorer as well. Kyle Williamson, a 6’2 senior, shot just above 36 percent from behind the three-point line last season. As a calm and collected player, along with being a pure shooter who can create match-up difficulties, the Bloomfield, Missouri native is expected to be a major scoring threat across the court.
Key returning players from last season include Alex Williams. The junior is expected to add an exciting and crucial factor to the game with his keen passing skills and solid defense. Sophomore Darian Kelly, after playing only half of the 2010-11 season, finished second in assists for the Bobcats. As a fast, strong, and physical player, Shepherd looks for him to play a big role this season. Dylan Price is a smart, strong shooter who understands the game. The 6’2 sophomore is expected to continue to make key contributions to the Bobcats. Coming off of an injured season, sophomore Garith Dedmon is healthy and ready to make an impact. The aggressive 6-2 guard from Hartville, Missouri is a universal athlete whose hard-nosed defense and ability to drive to the basket should allow him to have a productive season. Danielle Mallette is a 6’5 sophomore with a never-give-up attitude. Combining his size, strength, and tremendous work ethic should make Mallette a strong presence in the lane.
Six freshmen make up what Coach Shepherd believes to be one of the most balanced classes of recruits in his tenure at C of O. Levi Cook, a 6’1 guard from Crane, Missouri was a first-team All-State athlete, leading the Pirates to a state championship his senior year and becoming the all-time leading scorer. Cook looks to bring his strong passing and shooting talents and aptness to grab rebounds to the court this year. Darryl Howard, hailing from Sikeston, Missouri, was also a first-team All-State athlete and the most decorated athlete to play for the Bulldogs. At 6’2, Coach Shepherd expects Howard to make an immediate impact with his strength, speed, and a combination of pure talent and raw athleticism. From Liberty, Missouri, JT Nixon is an all-around talented player. The sharp-shooting 5’11 lefty will give the Bobcats a three-point shooting threat. At 6’4, Josh Cookinham of Ozark, Missouri is recognized as a smart offensive and defensive player around the goal. Rounding out the freshmen are Pete Leonard from Ava, Missouri where he was the All-time leading scorer averaging 25 points his senior season, and Kevin Scherer from Gentry, Arkansas. Leonard, 6’3, and Scherer, 6’5, are big bodies expected to provide the Bobcats with strong moves in the lane and an ability to finish in traffic.
Despite the loss of key scoring, this season’s team has the ability to be one of Shepherd’s deepest, most balanced teams. With fourteen talented individuals dedicated to the game, Bobcat fans can look forward to an exciting season of basketball.