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Feb. 18, 2021

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Steve Schmidt begins his 30th season as head coach at Flint's Mott Community College on Friday at St. Clair Community College.

​Posted on February 18, 2021

BY MIKE KILLBREATH

CCN Executive Editor

​​​​Mott Bears finally set to open 2021 men's basketball campaign at St. Clair on Friday as Schmidt begins 30th season at the helm

   MOUNT PLEASANT (CCN) — Practice is over for Flint's 2021 cast of Mott Bears. The men's program begins its 30th season tomorrow tonight (Feb. 19, 2021) under Steve Schmidt as head coach on the road at St. Clair Community College.

   The Bears went through their final practice session Thursday at Ballenger Field House on Flint's campus at Mott Community College, before finally getting started with games. All of their November, December and January games were wiped out because of the COVID-19 shutdown orders by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. No fans will be allowed when Mott opens its home season next Friday (Feb. 26, 2021) at Ballenger Field House against Alpena.

   The Bears are coming off a 23-9 campaign that included a disappointing10-6 record in the Eastern Conference of the Michigan Community College Athletic Association (MCCAA) and an early exit after only one game of March Madness fun.

   "Disappointing" was Schmidt's evaluation, of course. It's the way you evaluate things when there are four national championship banners hanging in a field house named after you. His success at Mott has also included two other appearances in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) championship game to go with four national titles. It's good enough to earn him places in the Greater Flint Area Sports Hall of Fame and the NJCAA Hall of Fame while still active in the game.

   Schmidt wasn't yet ready to talk yet about his latest team last weekend on The Daily Gazette Sports Weekend Show, saying he wanted a week to "figure out what the schedule is" before "coming on the radio to talk about things."

   Schmidt said last Friday: "Right now, our schedule is not set and the athletic directors are working on different scenarios. We are scheduled to begin testing and contact on Monday."

   With four days of "contact" practice under their belts, Schmidt's Bears are now set to open Friday night (Feb. 19, 2021) in Port Huron against St. Clair's Clippers. St. Clair's lineup features former Flint Carman-Ainsworth pair Christopher Ballard and Omari Duncan. The two sophomore stars had great freshman campaigns, but each sat out last season. Duncan was selected to the NJCAA's All-Region 12 Team as a freshman two years ago and he was named as Most Valuable Player in the district tournament when leading the Skippers to a district title and capturing First Team All-MCCAA Eastern Conference honors. Ballard also played on the 2019 district championship club at St. Clair CC.

   Mott must replace last season's Eastern Conference Player-of-the-Year — Taylor Currie.  The 6-foot-9 Currie moved on to play Division I ball this winter at Akron after he averaged 32 minutes per contest last season at Mott while averaging a double-double with 24.4 points per game and 10.7 rebounds per game.

   Currie, who transferred to Mott after a red-shirt season at Wisconsin in the Big Ten Conference, led the MCCAA in points (782), field goals (330), rebounds (134) and points per game with his 24.4 average. He was named first team All-Region, first team All-MCCAA and first team All-MCCAA Eastern Conference. Currie was a two-time Class A state champion at Clarkston with former Mr. Basketball winner Foster Loyer who is now the starting point guard at Michigan State. He had originally committed to go to the Michigan Wolverines before changing his mind and playing at Wisconsin.

   Also gone from last season's Mott ballclub are Goodrich's Carrington Wiggins who was a second team All-MCCAA Eastern Conference selection and two others who were honorable mentions for the All-MCCAA Eastern Conference accolades — Armonee Fielder and Terrence Williams.

   The roster revealed by Schmidt on Mott's web site this week features five sophomores in his lineup. They are J.D. Rawls of Mt. Morris, Austin Roland of Davison, Gabe Ringwelski of Fenton and Detroit's Chandler Park Academy duo  Andre Bradford and Derrick Bryant. 

   Roland is a 5-foot-11, 170-pound guard and Rawls is a 6-foot, 174-pound guard. Chandler Park Academy pair Bradford (6-foot-3, 190) and Bryant (5-foot-9, 165) are also battling for playing time at the guard positions with a pair of freshmen — , 6-foot, 150-pound Jailin Lee of Southfield A & T and 6-foot-2, 172-pound Josiah Hammonds of Chicago.

   Ringwelski is a 6-foot-7, 225-pound center. Others who will battle for playing time up front include Connor Bush (a 6-foot-4, 180-pound product of Bellville), Chicago's 6-foot-5, 185-pounder Armond Williams, 6-foot-6, 195-pound Chicago product Saiveon Williams and and 6-foot-6, 175-pound Ferndale graduate Jaylen Daughtery.

   The MCCAA basketball season will feature a new format for the shortened 2021 season with only 13 games for each team. Due to the fact that five schools have opted out of the season, the 14 remaining teams have been organized into three divisions for this season only. Mott has been positioned in the Northern Conference with St. Clair, Delta and Alpena.

   Teams in each conference will play each other twice, those six or eight games will determine the conference champion and post season seeding. Teams will also play five or seven crossover games to fill out the schedule to 13 games. The post season will feature five mini tournaments with five winners to go to play on April 10 to get the three qualifiers for the NJCAA Nationals Championship Tournament. The first four tournaments feature a team from each of the North, Metro and West. The final tournament features the second place West finisher against the second place Metro finisher.

   While Mott will play in the North Conference with St. Clair, Delta and Alpena, the Western Conference lineup has Ancilla, Glen Oaks, Grand Rapids and Muskegon while the Metro Conference is comprised of Henry Ford, Macomb, Oakland, Schoolcraft and Wayne County.

   After Friday's opener at St. Clair, Mott has another road game scheduled for Tuesday (Feb. 23, 2021) at Alpena before opening at home against Delta three nights later.

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