The Florida Panhandle is notorious for being a hotbed for junior college talent. Chipola College in Marianna, Fla. is one of the Panhandle Conference junior colleges that has produced two NBA players. Last season, Chipola was ranked 13th in the nation and were led by forward Kruize Pinkins.
Pinkins, who signed his letter of intent with the San Fransico Dons on April 22, has been a valuable addition to head coach Rex Walters’ team. Pinkins has been the sixth man for the Dons, who are 3-2 on the season.
The Dons are a much better team than their record indicates. Their loss to the Nevada Wolfpack came on a night where Pinkins was 1-of-10 shooting on the floor, and their loss to Idaho State came on a career-high 33-point night from forward Chris Hansen. Even with a stacked deck, the Dons have only lost their two games by a combined five points.
San Francisco’s great play carried against the 17th-ranked Oregon Ducks in the first half. The Ducks have looked phenomenal this season, but were stifled in the first half by the Dons. A 40-35 halftime Ducks lead would be as close as the Dons would come to defeating Oregon. The Ducks scored 60 points in the second half to coast to a 100-82 victory.
The silver lining to the loss would be the stellar play of Pickins, who had his first double-double as a Don with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Six of Pickins’ 11 rebounds were on the offensive end of the court. Pickins also had the Dons’ only block of the night, making him the leader in three statistical categories.
The San Francisco Dons may be 3-3, but are battle-tested for WCC play. Look for Pickins to continue to improve and for the Dons to be the dark horse in a loaded WCC.