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New TMC hoops coach pulling in big recruits

Posted: June 30, 2014 10:30 p.m.
Updated: June 30, 2014 10:30 p.m.
 

The Master’s College’s new men’s basketball coach isn’t even completely moved back into the Santa Clarita Valley yet but he’s already hard at work.

Ken Sugarman, who was hired in April after TMC dismissed Chuck Martin, has been commuting back-and-forth between California and Washington to help coordinate his family’s move back to the SCV.

Even with his busy schedule, Sugarman is happy to be back at TMC.

“It’s been really good so far,” he said. “It’s a blessing to be back here at a place I love with this opportunity.”

Lately Sugarman has been preparing for his first season as the men’s coach at TMC by hitting the recruiting trail and finalizing the 2014-2015 schedule, which was announced on Thursday.

The Mustangs, who compete in the Golden State Athletic Conference, have added three NCAA schools to their non-conference schedule.

They will kick off the season on Nov. 1 with a scrimmage against NCAA Division III school Cal Lutheran and will face Division I school UC Santa Barbara later on the Nov. 22.

Finally, on Nov. 25, they will face NCAA Division II power Cal Poly Pomona.

Sugarman feels that a strong non-conference schedule will help prepare his team for a loaded GSAC schedule that features three teams which finished in the NAIA Division I Coaches’ Top 25 Poll: No. 23 Arizona Christian, No. 15 Hope International and No. 1 Vanguard, the defending national champion.

To survive the tough schedule in front of them, the Mustangs needed an influx of talent and Sugarman is pleased with the five players already committed for the upcoming season.

“I’m really happy with this class,” he said. “They all have a really strong desire to be here and have fully engaged in the culture.”

With three high school graduates and two transfers, Sugarman has added experience and athleticism in his first class.

Combo guards JP Webster and Keegan Scott will add depth to the backcourt while Santa Clarita Christian’s versatile lefty Phillip Webb will make an impact with his rebounding skills and his ability to play as a stretch four.

“Phillip has a bright future,” said Sugarman. “He’s actually still growing. Last time we measured him he was about 6 feet, 8 inches. He’s got a great shooting touch and it’s always great to bring in local kids.”

TMC’s two new transfers are 6-foot-6 junior swingman Nick Paul, whose last stop was at Bethel University in Tennessee, and Michigan State senior transfer Russell Byrd.

The 6-7 Byrd appeared in 23 games for the Spartans last year, averaging 1.1 points and 1.0 rebounds in 7.6 minutes per game.

“Obviously getting someone like Russell is big because he’s competed at the highest level,” said Sugarman. “He can play two through four for us and the experience he has is a big asset.”

Sugarman has accomplished a lot already and he still isn’t even fully settled in.

With just over five months until the season starts Sugarman is hoping to have his team as prepared as possible.

“We’re going to bring out best effort and work really hard to win championships,” he said. “But we’re also going to work just as hard to develop men and leaders because in the end I feel like I haven’t done my job if all they learn about is basketball.”

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