Cougar hoops coach adds another piece
     2016-07-22      By Media Report    editor@geringcitizen.com
Diamond Onwuka 
Focused on summer recruiting, Western Nebraska Community College Men’s Basketball Head Coach Cory Fehringer signed Jalen Brown to represent the Cougars.

Brown, a 6-foot-4 wingman from Cretin-Derham High in St. Paul, Minnesota, played for several clubs, including Grassroots Hoops and the Howard Pully AAU team.

Excited about coming to Western Nebraska, Brown said, “Being able to continue my education and basketball career at WNCC is truly a blessing. I am looking forward to working with Coach Cory, and building a college career here.”

Fehringer said the 2016-17 team is coming together. Fehringer has so far signed three players this summer. Previously, Diamond Onwuka and Vincent Shahid inked with the Cougars.

“Our basketball program continues to grow with the addition of Brown,” Fehringer said. “Outside of his athleticism, Jalan is a gifted basketball player who will continue to develop during his time with the Cougars. We expect Jalan to make a positive impact as a freshman. More importantly, we are anxious to be a part of his growth as a student and a player over two years.”

CEO of the Grassroots Hoops organization Brian Sandifer said Brown displays plenty of talent and athleticism. “Jalan has overcome obstacles along the way to become a very talented basketball player. He is an athlete who has delivered big games, and highlight plays during important moments,” he said. “He is known for bringing crowds to their feet, because of his athleticism. We are happy to know JB will continue his education, and begin his college career at Western Nebraska.”

Brown joins a backcourt that will include Onwuka, a 6-foot-7 and 200-pounder from the Get Better Academy, out of the Czech Republic.

“I’m a guard, who can play the three outside positions without any type of problems,” Onwuka said. “I consider myself a good defensive player. I like to assist and lead my team as much as I can. One thing I’d like to improve is my conditioning and the aggressiveness to finish with contact.”

Fehringer said signing Onwuka puts next year’s team on track for relative success.

“Our program is making strides in the right direction with the addition of Diamond Onwuka,” he said. “He comes to the Cougars from a strong culture, and a successful coach in Julian Betko.
Get Better Academy is a well-established program with a history of high level players. This is a positive move for the current success of the Men’s Basketball program as well as the future of Cougar Pride.”

Onwuka, who played for FC Barcelona and DKV Joventut, will be building on an already solid foundation. With DKV, his team won a silver medal in the Spanish National Championship, losing the finals against Real Madrid. He also developed his skills at the Get Better Academy.

Onwuka also finished fourth in the U17 World Championship with the Spanish National team and this year, with the Czech Republic National Championship, he won a national title, a first for the team. Onwuka earned Final Four MVP honors.

Julian Betko, the head coach of the Get Better Academy, said Onwuka is a hard-working player. “Diamond is a very talented player with a high IQ for the game,” Betko said. “He has a pass-first mentality, and is capable of playing different positions which makes him an asset. We hope he keeps working hard in a great program like WNCC and becomes a great player.”

In the end, the Cougars won the Onwuka sweepstakes after several Division I schools had expressed interest in him. Montana, Weber State, Northern Colorado, Michigan, Purdue and Illinois State sent him letters. Junior colleges, Laramie County Community College, Central Florida and College of Southern Idaho, also got in on the bidding. All fell short.

“I had a bunch of D1 schools interested in me, but because of my grades I couldn’t go,” he said. “I had some junior colleges talking to me, but Coach Fehringer seemed the most excited about getting me on his roster and the most excited about working hard with me to (develop) my potential.”

Fehringer said he expects Onwuka to make an impact at both ends of the court. “We expect Diamond to impact the game at both ends of the floor,” he said. “It’s difficult to find players who are skilled at his size. Offensively, some of his greatest strengths include the ability to push the tempo in transition for easy baskets, make good decisions when penetrating, and score from a variety of areas. Defensively, he is a strong rebounder capable of defending multiple positions from guard to post.”

Brown and Onwuka represent the second and third recruits for Fehringer since the end of May. Vinnie Shahid, a 5-foot-11 guard from Hopkins High in Minnetonka, Minnesota, signed with the Cougars earlier in June.

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