With Future Secure, Connors Concentrates on the Present
Coach Randy Reed knew the type of player he was getting long before Cortez Connors ever stepped foot in St. Louis Community College’s gymnasium for his first workout this past offseason.
Connors, a graduate of Webster Groves High School, had established himself as a potential NCAA Division I prospect with the Statesmen, and has validated that promise in his first season with STLCC.
In just the first week of the regular season, Connors committed to continuing his collegiate career at the University of California-Bakersfield following this year. Now midway through his first season of college basketball, Connors ranks second on the team in scoring with 18.6 points per game, and leads the Archers by converting 42 percent of his 3-point attempts.
“He can shoot the ball,” understated Reed, following the team’s 85-61 win over Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley on Jan. 11. “He can put the ball in the basket and he’s very talented athletically. He’s a D-1 player.”
Connors, whose scoring pace has cooled somewhat from an auspicious seven-game start that saw him eclipse 20 points four times, continues to produce in a much more balanced offense for the Archers. With 10 points against Penn Valley, Connors was one of six different Archers to reach double figures in scoring against the Scouts.
In a trend that has coincided with a much more defensive-minded approach for the Connors and the Archers, the freshman guard also led the team with seven rebounds against Penn Valley.
At least a portion of Connors’ success could be attributed to his ability to play without the weight of his future college decisions undecided.
“It’s huge,” Connors said of the ability to settle in this year with his future already determined. “I can just play and not worry about who’s watching me. I don’t have to think if I’m doing this right, if I’ll get an offer. I can just play.”
Has he ever. Connors’ contributions have also extended beyond his own on-court performance, as the Archers look to make a run to the NJCAA Tournament in Reed’s first season as head coach. Despite his freshman status, Connors has taken a leadership role in helping the Archers toward that end.
“We’re looking at the big picture,” Connors said. “Coach Reed is always stressing defense and intensity. That’s all we’ll do in a practice. Repetition is the key to everything. If you do something enough times, you’ll get the job done.”
Few Archers players in recent years have gotten the job done with more frequency than Connors.