Players Honored on Senior Night
Members of BC’s varsity men's basketball team honored during senior night.
February 17, 2012
Four members of Bluefield’s varsity men’s basketball team were honored in a pre-game ceremony for Senior Night on Feb. 15 in the Dome Gymnasium.
Prior to their final regular-season home game against Virginia Intermont, Ted Oboute, Borgia M’Bala, Alvin Board, and AJ Brown received framed photos, balloons, and gifts recognizing their careers at Bluefield.
Although the Rams lost the game, M’Bala had one of his best performances of the season. He made three three-point shots early in the first half to help Bluefield open up an early lead on his way to 27-point performance.
BC Basketball Seniors (from left to right): Jasmine Washington, Ted Oboute, Kia Gilliard, Borgia M'Bala, De"Arra Darling, Alvin Board, Takieya Rouse, AJ Brown
M’Bala, a 6-foot-3 guard/forward from Paris, France, hit a career milestone early in the second half when he scored the 1000th point of his career.
“The whole thing has been a long journey,” said M’Bala. “I feel like I worked hard for what’s happening right now and I’m pretty proud of what’s happened over the last four years.”
A versatile player and an outside shooting threat, M’Bala has made significant contributions to the team in all four years of his career. This season he has averaged over 12 points per game and ranks in the top 20 in NAIA Division II in three-pointers made.
Head coach Richard Morgan said M’Bala stayed in town during the Christmas break to work on his game.
“I think that’s one of the things that I love about him,” said Morgan. “He has sacrificed. He should have had the night he had [on Senior Night]. I was really pleased that he played well.”
Along with M’Bala, Oboute has been a part of the program for the last four seasons. They are the only two players remaining from the 2008-2009 team that had a perfect 18-0 record in Appalachian Athletic Conference play under former head coach Jason Gillespie.
Oboute said he is proud that he and M’Bala persevered through a coaching regime change when many players opted to leave the program.
“We stuck with it and didn’t let anyone take the game of basketball away from us,” said Oboute. “We didn’t quit or transfer. We just stuck with it.”
Oboute, a 6-foot-7 forward from Punta Gorda, Fla., has become known for being a tough defensive player. Morgan said he has been a strong leader for the team.
“He’s a kid that has brought so much to us this senior year with his leadership and his ability to rally the troops,” said Morgan. “I get a pulse from him of the team. He’s been a liaison between myself and the team.”
After spending his freshman year developing with Bluefield’s junior varsity team, Alvin Board has made contributions off the bench for the Rams over the last three seasons.
“All I can really say is that it went by fast,” said Board. “Me, Bo [M’Bala], Ted [Oboute}, we’ve been down here for four years. The relationships are really tight between us all. We got a lot done.”
Board has become a key player at times this season. Along with getting assists as a point guard, he has been an outside threat, hitting nearly 50 percent of his three-point attempts.
“The thing about Al is that he’s a good kid to have on the team,” said Morgan. “He doesn’t really cause us any problems. He takes care of his business off the floor. He knows the offense when he goes in the game. That’s what we look for. [He is] solid on defense. He’s been what we ask him to be every night.”
AJ Brown transferred to Bluefield last year from Virginia Union, an NCAA Division II program. Morgan said that Brown developed much more than his basketball skills during his time at BC.
“When I got AJ, he was kind of rough around the edges,” said Morgan. “I think we’ve definitely smoothed those edges down and made him a better-rounded person. He’s a guy that can play, but he’s just behind a lot of guys. Any time we ask him to go in, he does what we need him to do. I think we have done way more for him than he’s going to do for us. Sometimes in this business, that’s what you want. You do the most you can to make kids graduate and to make a difference in their lives.”
Brown said his time at Bluefield will take him a long way in his future.
“I got coached by two good coaches,” said Brown. “They know a lot about the game and they taught me a lot of different things. I learned a lot, not just about basketball, but about being a good person in general and figuring out what I’m going to do with myself in life.”
In the midst of a strong season on the court, Coach Morgan takes pride in the academic success of this year’s senior class.
“All of my seniors are on track to graduate,” said Morgan. “I’m just blessed and pleased that they are in position to graduate. You can’t ask for much more than that. A 17-14 record, that’s great. If I can help lead these kids to graduation, that’s more important to me.”
The seniors said they will cherish the opportunity they had to play college basketball and the bond that has formed with their teammates.
“All of the individuals I’ve met, all of the different teammates, and the fun we’ve had together on and off the court, I’ll take all of those memories with me,” said Oboute.
There is still work to be done for the Rams. They are 10-6 in conference games and will be the third seed in the AAC Tournament. The third-place finish exceeded the outside expectations for the team. They were predicted to finish fifth in the conference in preseason polls.
The first game in the AAC Tournament for Bluefield will be on Tuesday, Feb. 21, at 7:30 p.m. in the Dome.