Memories of a champion: Jarret Givens, then and now

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Jarret Givens was a Corona del Sol Aztec under Coach Sam Duane before playing for universities in Great Falls, Montana, and Alamosa, Colorado. Givens and Casey Benson were members of the same state championship team at Corona.              – Photo courtesy Angela Givens

Two members of Corona’s 2014 AIA Boys Basketball Division I State Championship team are currently taking advantage of the same NCAA graduate transfer rule that Casey Benson, a third member of that same state championship team, used to transfer to and
play basketball at Grand Canyon University in 2016, which would have normally been his senior year at Oregon.

Jarrett Givens and Conner MacDougall are both playing basketball using 2011 NCAA Bylaw 14.6.1 which allows student-athletes who have completed their undergraduate coursework, but still have a year of eligibility remaining, to transfer to another college program and play right away.

Benson, who finished his course work and graduated in three years from Oregon, opted to transfer to Grand Canyon University for several reasons, including the opportunity
to play basketball under his brother, T.J., who is an assistant coach for Dan Majerle, but to also play at home in front of friends and family his last year of college basketball.

Both Givens and MacDougall suffered hardships during their first four years of college, but it was these same hardships that gave them an additional year of eligibility.

This extra year made it possible for them to not only earn an undergraduate degree but to take advantage of this grad transfer rule to not play one more year of a sport they love and also receive a scholarship to earn an advanced degree.

Givens was part of Corona’s varsity team when they won their second and third straight state championship under coach Sam Duane.

That same year he was also part of Corona’s Division I State Championship track team where he participated in the high jump and long jump events.

In the Aztecs win in the 2014 finals for the second straight year over Pinnacle, Givens scored five points but most importantly grabbed some critical rebounds during the overtime period to helped Corona win by one point at 71-70.

“My favorite memory at Corona playing under coach Duane is when we won the state championship final game my senior year,” said Givens. “It was exciting playing Pinnacle for the second straight year and that game was so close. It’s something I replay in my head all the time.”

Givens, who was not done playing basketball after high school, left his hometown of Tempe for Great Falls, Montana, to play in an NAIA Division II program now called University of Providence.

After redshirting his freshman year and only playing in nine game due to injury the 2015-16 season at Great Falls, Givens transferred to Adam State, another Division II school in Alamosa, Colorado.

Although continuing to be nagged by injury his first year at Adam State (2016-2017), Givens never lost sight of his goal to not only perform well on the basketball court but in the classroom.

Although he was only able to play in 15 games over the season, Givens still had the second largest average points per game at 12.3 while maintaining a 3.0 GPA in Business Management with a minor in Business Administration.

Things ultimately looked up his final season in Colorado when he was injury free and able to leave it all on the court. He played in all 30 regular season games his senior year leading the team in three-pointers with 70 treys hitting almost 44 per cent of his attempts.

He was second on the team in steals per game and third in several categories including points per game at 12.6. rebounds at 4.7 and minutes played at 31.3.

Finally playing the way he always knew he could on the basketball court and graduating from Adam State in May with one year of eligibility left, Givens started thinking about playing Division I basketball.

Several DI schools came calling including Furman University, UTEP, Southeast Missouri University, Cleveland State and Austin Peay.

Givens choose to use the grad transfer rule at Austin Peay in Clarksville, TN, about an hour northwest of Nashville.

“I actually had planned on going from the University of Great Falls to a DI school,” said Givens. “I was kind of naïve back then and believed I could play DI basketball right away.”

“I worked hard every summer so I knew I could play DI ball but I’m proud of the route I took to end up at Austin Peay playing DI basketball my final year now that I’m more mature,” said Givens.

What Austin Peay has gotten in return is a veteran student athlete who can be a vocal leader for the team. Givens has three years of college basketball experience and four years of academic experience he can call upon to be a role-model on and off the court for the younger players.

“The skills I bring to practice and during games is my ability to shoot the ball and to play solid defense,” said Givens. “I also try to exhibit how being unselfish, making the extra pass, and sharing the ball can improve the team’s overall success.”

Givens has proven he belongs at the DI level playing in all 23 games averaging over 23 minutes and 9.1 points a game so far this season at Austin Peay.

He scored a career high 25 points which included seven 3-pointers at Austin Peay’s Ohio Valley Conference opener against Eastern Kentucky on Jan. 3.

“I love playing with my teammates at Austin Peay,” said Givens. “They made the transition easy for me by being so welcoming. We have become really close, the closest I’ve been to a team since my Corona del Sol days.”

Givens will finish his master’s degree in Leadership and Coaching from Austin Peay in May.

“After I finish my degree, I would like to continue my basketball career if possible, by playing in the NBA G-League or maybe playing overseas,” said Givens. “Once that’s over, I would love to coach basketball and help other kids follow their dreams like the coaches I had did for me.”

Connor MacDougall’s story of becoming a basketball grad transfer is similar to Givens except he started transferring schools in high school.

MacDougall started his freshman and sophomore year at Desert Vista before transferring to Phoenix Westwind Prep when the national high school team was first started.

The NCAA would not accept the Westwind courses so MacDougall had to make up for a lost year academically somewhere he could also play basketball.

He chose Corona to make up the course work and sit out the mandatory wait period before he could play during games.

He first noticed his shoulder popping in and out at Corona but decided to play through it helping the Aztecs win their third DI state championship scoring 11 points in the finals.

He accepted a scholarship to ASU where his shoulder continued to bother him enough so that he ended up only playing in six games for coach Herb Sendek before leaving the program after his freshman year and transferring to South Mountain Community College for the 2015-16 season.

While at South Mountain, MacDougall earned an associates degree in psychology while playing basketball. At the end of the season, he was named to the NJCAA Division II All-American team after playing in 34 games with an average of 17.8 points, 11.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game.

MacDougall then went to New Mexico where another member of Corona’s third straight state championship team, Dane Kuiper, played.

During the 2016-17 season, MacDougall appeared in 27 games where he led the team in blocks in three different games and finished the season with a career high of six rebounds on three occasions. He was an Academic All-Mountain West selection.

Then a preseason ankle/foot injury led to MacDougall sitting out his senior season.

Most people would have given up playing collegiately, at that point, but MacDougall loved basketball and just wanted to keep playing.

So, after graduating from the University of New Mexico last May and winning an appeal with the NCAA to get a year of eligibility back, MacDougall took advantage of the NCAA grad transfer rule and transferred to Utah Valley University which is part of the WAC conference. After playing at eight different

schools starting in high school, MacDougall, at 6-foot-9, 240 pounds, is having an impact on the Wolverines success on the court and at the same time earning an advance degree.

For instance, MacDougall scored 28 points against Idaho State earning him WAC Player of the Week honors after setting a single-game school record for consecutive field goals made.

Sectional Wrestling Results

Tempe High School wrestling programs competed at the Sectional Tournaments on Feb. 2 to qualify individual wrestlers for the state tournaments which are Feb. 7-8 for Division III and Feb. 8-9 for Division I and II.

Marcos de Niza qualified seven wrestlers for the state tournament at the Section II tournament held at Florence High School on Feb. 2.

Taking first place were junior Noah Perez, senior Malik Shuaibe-Jones and senior Gabe Sordia

Perez (106 lbs.) has a 11-2 record heading into the state tournament while Shuaibe-Jones (142 lbs.) is 39-6 and Sordia (195 lbs.) is 29-11.

Senior Ellye Hill (285 lbs.), junior Zach Martinez (120 lbs.) and sophomore Gavin Gonzalez (113 lbs.) all places second at the sectionals.

Hill has a 21-7 record while Martinez is 22-10 and Gonzalez is 31-11.

Senior Zach Famoso (220 lbs.), with a 30-11 record placed fourth at the sectionals.

Tempe High School’s wrestling program also had seven wrestlers qualify for the Division III state tournament at the sectionals held Feb. 2 at Florence High School.

Seniors Quevion Baker McCaulay (220 lbs.) and Orlando H. Molina (285 lbs.) both places first at the sectionals along with sophomore Mark Sanchez (120 lbs.).

McCaulay enters the DIII state tournament with a 37-5 record while Molina has an impressive 48-2 record and Sanchez has a 38-11 record.

Seniors Jaxen Davis (106 lbs.) and Maximus Pearce (126 lbs.) took second place while junior Edgar O. Yanez Orduno (160 lbs.) and sophomore Jonathan Ibarra  (182 lbs.) placed fourth. Davis will enter the DIII state tournament with a 12-1 record while Pearce a 40-9 record, Orduno, 37-12 and Ibarra 9-8.

Corona qualified eight wrestlers to the Division I state tournament scheduled Feb. 8-9 at Prescott Valley.

Senior Zack Kvavle (120 lbs.) and sophomore Anthony Gonzales (113 lbs.) took first place at the Section III sectional tournament held Feb. 2 at Desert Vista.

Kvavle will enter the DI state tournament with an impressive 43-3 record while Gonzales has an equally impressive 40-6 record.

Junior Shane Aguarin (138 lbs.) and seniors Roan Kelleher (170 lbs.) and Kevin Beltran- Benitez (220 lbs.) all took second place at the sectionals.

Aguarin has a 37-8 record while Kelleher a 36-7 record and Beltran- Benitez 21-15.

Junior Jack Koeller (195 lbs.) placed third while freshman Eldon Milton (182 lbs.) and junior Matt Gable (132 lbs.) placed fourth.

Koeller enters the state tournament with a 27-17 record while Milton has a 25-18 and Gable a 12-20 record.

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