Being home for the first time as a college freshman is always special, especially during the student’s first winter break. It’s a time to reconnect with family and friends, not to mention enjoy some good old-fashioned home cooking.
James Spencer III (Lamar University) and Mouhamed Diawara (University of Sioux Falls) were among several old high school chums who braved the frigid temps to watch and support Gopher freshman and former Park Center High School teammate Braeden Carrington at a recent Minnesota contest at Williams Arena. The two spoke to the MSR during halftime of the contest against Chicago State Dec. 22.
“Everyone’s bigger,” admitted Diawara, a 6-5 defensive lineman at USF.
The 6-6 Spencer, who’s playing basketball at Lamar added, “It is way different from what I thought it would be. It’s better than I thought it would be.
“I’m enjoying everything, just learning as a freshman. I like the challenge. It has been great for me,” Spencer said.
Their former high school coach, Park Center’s James Ware, also was there, checking on his former player Carrington as well as spending time with his former student-athletes.
On the 6-4 Carrington, a first-year guard, Ware said, “I’d like to see him defend a little better. I thought he defended as a high school player better than what I’m seeing as a college player.”
Nonetheless, Ware believed that Ben Johnson is the perfect coach for him. “I’m really excited for the Gophers to have [Carrington] here for four years. Once he settles in, I think people are gonna be really excited about what they see.”
Ware also was happy to see his former players such as Spencer and Diawara and said he’s very proud of them individually and collectively. “It just brings a huge smile on my face to see all these guys sticking together, coming together.”
Said Diawara, “We all dream to see all [of us] play at the college level. It is something great to see.”
“It’s honestly amazing to see how we all grew as people, where we are now and what we’re doing,” noted Spencer. “It’s cool that you can support your homies.”
Blessed with opportunity
Marqus McGlothan is in his first year as an assistant women’s basketball coach at Eastern Illinois. He was hired this past August.
Prior to EIU, McGlothan co-founded DTA (Development Through Athletics) Academy and was a successful AAU coach (North Tartan in Minnesota).
“I’ve been through a lot,” said McGlothan after the Dec. 22 Eastern Illinois-Minnesota contest at The Barn. His coaching experience actually began as a student manager at Michigan State (2008-10) before transferring to St. Cloud State, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 2015. He later was an SCSU assistant women’s basketball coach (2019-20), but his only season there was cut short due to COVID-19 shutting down sports.
“God blessed me with the opportunity,” McGlothan said of being at EIU. “Now I’m here and just trying to make the most out of it.”