Two-thirds of Barton Community College’s “Big 3” — sophomore guards Al Key and Andell Cumberbatch — have yet to make a decision on where they’re going to play basketball next season.
The other — sophomore guard Turon Parker — hasn’t signed, but Cougars head coach Craig Fletchall says Parker has already committed to NCAA Division-II Washburn University in Topeka.
“Turon to Washburn,” Fletchall said. “He’s committed, but hasn’t signed. He has already made a visit. They’ve been on him real hard this year.
“I think he had some opportunities at the low major level, but I think it will be a great fit. He can step in at a nationally-ranked Division II program that’s consistent every year and play for a veteran coach and be their starting point guard.”
Switching between point guard and shooting guard this past season with Key, Parker averaged 11.8 points and dished out 3.6 assists per game. He knocked down a team-best 59 3-pointers.
Washburn got wind of Parker through Barton assistant coach Matt Hundley, who played for longtime Washburn head coach Bob Chipman. along with Ichabods assistant Dave Brown, a former junior-college coach at Hutchinson and Seward County.
“Bob came down early in the year and also saw him play a second time in a road game,” Fletchall said of the 6-foot-1 Parker, a native of Canton, Ohio. “So he’s seen him play twice. Coach Brown, who used to be at Seward, loves him and has been at several games and a handful of practices.
“It’s good to see loyalties rewarded. After his visit, their facilities and their coaching staff, I think Turon feels pretty good about it.”
A driving force, the 6-4 Key, who led the Cougars in scoring, assists and steals in each of his two seasons, is being courted by several Division I schools, including Alabama, Georgia, Texas Christian, Arizona State and Auburn.
“He’s visited TCU, and he’s visiting Alabama this weekend,” Fletchall said of Key, who was named as a third-team National Junior College Athletics Association All-America selection for the second straight season on Monday. “Georgia’s kind of waiting ... they have a guard that is possibly going to go the pros.”
Fletchall was referring to Georgia’s sophomore guard, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who was named Southeast Conference Player of the year by The Associated Press this past season.
“The visits are going to fall in order pretty well with him visiting Alabama,” Fletchall said. “It would not surprise me if he made a commitment after this weekend.
“I really applaud the way TCU’s recruited him as well. Their staff has done a great job, and they did a home visit for him over spring break and to fly him in (to Fort Worth, Texas) the first week possible, I think they’ve got a great shot.”
Key, a native of Decatur, Ga., led the Cougars with a 17.6 points-per-game scoring average this past season. One of the most electrifying players in school history, he wound up fourth on the school’s career scoring list (1,214 points) and assists (315)
“He’s such a humble kid,” Fletchall said of Key, a combination guard at Barton. “He was a model of consistency for two years. I don’t think it’s coincidental that he was on the third team again because that’s the way he played.
“Obviously, one of only two in school history (joining former Barton standout Robert Whaley as the only two-time All-America selections).”
Whaley was a first-team All-America pick in back-to-back seasons (2001-02).
“Al was also only one of two Kansas kids (joining Hutchinson freshman guard Kadeem Allen, who was a first-team All-America pick) that got recognized, which in a region that I thought had better talent. That speaks volumes for him.”
Cumberbatch, a 6-4 guard from East Orange, N.J., has received letters from Pepperdine, Long Beach State, Albany (N.Y.) Evansville (Ind.) and Rhode Island.
“Actually, Albany and Evansville are looking at some visits,” Fletchall said. “They’ve got some kids on campus this weekend.
“The reality with Andale is that he’s humble. The dominoes are going to start to fall when some of these kids make some decisions.”
Cumberbatch said he will be making some visits by the end of this month.
“I think he’s going to have some pretty good options late in April for some visits,” Fletchall said. “He’ll graduate from Barton in May and he’ll play in a good league.”
Cumberbatch was one of the most improved players in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference Western Division.
As far as his recruitment, Cumberbatch, who averaged 14.2 points and 8.2 rebounds this past season as a dual threat inside or out, says that it’s all-open.
“I’m just trying to set up the right dates because they have other recruits coming in,” said Cumberbatch, who posted double-doubles in nine of 16 Jayhawk West games. “I had to step up (at Barton), being a sophomore. I had to contribute more to the team.
“We had a load on our shoulders — Algie Key, Turon Parker and myself — so we just had to get it done. I just wanted to put pressure on myself, so I could get a good feel of it, and the pressure is good if you want to achieve something.”
Backup guard Shaka Thomas is reportedly leaning toward signing at Ottawa, where former Bethany standout and former Fort Hays State assistant Andy Carrier is a longtime head coach there.
Bethany, ironically, is also in the recruiting mix for Thomas, a left-hander from Topeka.
“His game’s gotten better, and it would be nice to get him closer to home, so his Mom can see him play,” Fletchall said of Thomas, who knocked down 26 3-pointers this past season. “I’m honestly as happy for him as I am for any of the other three.
“He didn’t play as much, but he stuck with it and came back for his sophomore year for the right reasons and has done well in the classroom. He gets the opportunity to play on the same team as (former Barton player) Julian Rose and play in a good league.”
The Cougars finished 28-6 this past season, advancing to the Region VI championship game, where they lost to arch-rival Hutchinson.