Angelina College first-year head men’s basketball coach Nick Wade and assistant coach Zac Kircher led the Roadrunners to a surprising – for some – inaugural year, with AC finishing with an 18-14 record and a No. 2 seed in the Region XIV conference tournament’s East Zone. The team did so despite returning just one starting sophomore from the previous season.
On Monday, the coaching staff saw some of the fruits of its labor, with three players signing letters of intent to play collegiately at the next level.
Kevin Norman signed with Jacksonville University in Florida, Hunter Janacek signed with Houston Baptist University and Kenan Jackson of Lufkin signed with Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, Texas.
For Janacek, the decision to play for HBU came about while he was still in high school, as the Huskies expressed an interest in him then.
“My family will get to see me play nearly every game, and that was important to me,” Janacek said. “The same staff is in place there, and they’ve been recruiting me since I was a sophomore in high school.”
Janacek, who shot 35.3 percent (65 of 184) from three-point range in 2018-2019, said playing for Wade and Kircher helped add another important element to his overall game.
“These guys really pushed me to get better defensively, and that was something I needed to improve,” Janacek said. “I feel they helped make me a better all-around player.”
Jackson, from Lufkin, also felt the draw of playing close to home when choosing Jarvis.
“It’s close to home, and I wanted my mom to get to see me play my last two years,” Jackson said. “I know Jarvis has a fast-paced program, and I like that style of play.”
Jackson credited the AC staff for pushing him to improve in both athletics and academics.
“They stayed on me about taking care of my class work, and to get better in every part of my life,” Jackson said. “That’s why I came to AC, to get better at everything.”
Norman, the team’s leading scorer and a 1st Team All-Region selection, will take his versatility to a Jacksonville University Dolphins team coming off a 12-20 season.
Wade said the three players embodied what the program is trying to instill with every member.
“First and foremost, those are great individuals and human beings,” Wade said. “They’ve been raised right and come from great families, so I don’t worry about them. Sometimes coming to a junior college program is just about being tough and figuring things out about yourself you may not know. It’s not for everybody, and those guys definitely withstood the test of time.
“They’ve been coached hard, and they know how to compete. They’ll play to the best of their abilities, and they’ll be great teammates and students. That’s all we can ask of them.”
The e-mail address for AC’s Sports Information Director is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sports Information Director Gary Stallard, who also serves as a Liberal Arts Instructor, begins his eleventh season with Angelina College. Following a career as a U.S. Marine, Stallard completed his bachelor’s degree at Stephen F. Austin University, where he majored in English and Journalism. For more than 16 years, he has worked as a sports writer/columnist/photographer for the Lufkin Daily News; he continues to contribute free-lance articles on occasion. Stallard has won several awards for writing, including the Golden Hoops Award for basketball writing in 2003, Regional Sports Writer of the Year in 2004, and the Texas Press Association’s first-place award for column writing in 2007 and in 2014. He has also done basketball, football and baseball radio and live streaming play-by- play and color commentary for an ESPN affiliate. Currently Stallard serves as play-by-play broadcaster for AC basketball, baseball and softball games.
Prior to arriving at Angelina College, Stallard taught English at Lufkin High School for four years. He currently teaches Developmental Writing classes at AC. He and his wife Susan live in Lufkin.
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