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Local college basketball: Pond, Roberts ready to lead JCC squads

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Who says you can’t go home?

Dustin Pond and Amanda Roberts have, creating some intrigue for the Jefferson Community College basketball season in the process.

Pond and Roberts, the 2011-12 Times All-North Most Valuable Players for Frontier League boys and girls basketball, will lead their respective JCC squads after both players spent a year away at St. Lawrence University.

The men’s team will begin its season on Friday and the women’s team is slated to start on Saturday. Both are participating in the Mohawk Valley CC Tournament.

“It’s more homey (here), I guess,” Pond said. “Obviously the community is nice, and I always liked playing for them and getting that support.”

The two former area high school standouts had very different experiences on the court at Division III SLU last season.

Roberts, the 2012 South Jefferson graduate who led the Spartans to the state championship game as a senior, was named SLU’s starting point guard almost immediately.

She started all 28 games, averaging nearly 35 minutes a night, and set a single-season school record with 140 assists.

Roberts was a unanimous selection for the Liberty League’s all-rookie team and was an honorable mention choice for the all-conference squad.

“As far as basketball goes, I loved it there. I love the game and I love to play,” Roberts said. “So anywhere I have the opportunity I want to take advantage of it.”

Pond, meanwhile, spent his year with the Saints rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.

A three-sport athlete at Watertown High School, Pond injured his elbow about a month into his senior baseball season, not long after concluding his storied basketball career with the Cyclones. Pond is the program’s all-time leader in points (1,410) and rebounds (1,073). He averaged 18.5 points and 14.1 rebounds in his career.

Pond underwent the procedure in June, and the recovery process lasted roughly a year.

“It sucked,” Pond said. “It was an hour or hour-and-a-half of rehab every day just to get mobility back.”

Pond took a medical redshirt last year and worked out, practiced and traveled with the team. He still has four years of eligibility remaining.

“It really did suck just watching everything and knowing I couldn’t be out there,” Pond said.

Both Pond and Roberts simply missed their respective hometowns.

And, while both players said their respective futures are wide open, each expressed excitement about the immediate future and the Cannoneers’ season.

“I’m really happy with my decision. I would really miss it if I didn’t play, for sure,” Roberts said. “I feel really confident going in. I love the way these girls play, they play fast and that’s the way I like to play.”

Pond added: “I feel like I’ll be used similar to how I was in high school, inside and outside. We run a four (guards) out and one in system, so I feel like I fit well.”

Here is a look at both the men’s and women’s teams.

Men’s team

Outlook: Pond and an exciting freshman point guard from Mount Vernon, Kevin Johnson, will lead a team full of newcomers coming off a poor season. The top returnees are Ryan Tomlin and Damien Jackson, both from Queens, and Harlem native Kenny Thomas. Other newcomers expected to play significant minutes are Jagger Freeman, an athletic forward from Queens, and local products Sam Widrick (Beaver River) and Caleb Green (St. Regis Falls). First-year coach Joe Vaadi, who took over for Charlie Bridge III, said that he expects JCC to be a better defensive team than it was a season ago and more patient and deliberate on offense.

Coach: Joe Vaadi (1st year).

2012-13 record: 6-20 overall, 1-12 Region 3.

Players to watch: Dustin Pond, Kevin Johnson.

Roster: Troy McAdam (Fr. G, 6-foot-0); Kevin Johnson (So. G, 5-5); Trayon Williams (Fr. G, 5-9); Mike Louis (So. G, 5-8); Ryan Tomlin (Sr. G/F, 6-2); Caleb Green (Fr. G, 5-11); Damien Jackson (So. G/F, 6-2); Jagger Freeman (Fr. F, 6-3); Shyleel Clarke (Fr. G, 5-10); Dustin Pond (So. F, 6-5); Al Alston (Fr. F, 6-3); Samuel Widrick (Fr. G, 6-1); Kenny Thomas (So. F, 6-3).

Women’s team

Outlook: Roberts will the team with returning point guard Jasmine Canady to create one of the fastest and most versatile backcourts the JCC women’s team has seen in a long time. Canady averaged 19 points and four assists per game last year and was a Mid-State Athletic Conference first-team all-star. The two will share ball handling duties and work off each other to create scoring chances in an up-tempo offense. Woodward, entering his third year, said that expectations are high and competing for a conference and regional title are realistic goals. Local products Kathleen Coloney (Harrisville), Alyssa Crosby (Hammond) and Alesha Waterman (Thousand Islands) are expected to fill out the starting five.

Coach: Josh Woodward (3rd year).

2012-13 record: 12-16, 10-13.

Players to watch: Amanda Roberts, Jasmine Canady.

Roster: Jasmine Canady (So. G, 5-6); Courtney Scott (Fr. G, 5-6); Logan Wheeler (Fr. G, 5-5); Gabby Marshall (Fr. G, Hammond); Alesha Waterman (Fr. G, 5-5); Erica Sullivan (Fr. F, 5-9); Amanda Roberts (So. G, 5-7); Kathleen Coloney (Fr. F, 5-11); Alyssa Crosby (Fr. G/F, 5-11); Krysti Brow (Fr. C, 6-1); Lucy Smoot (Fr. F, 5-8).

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