Men's College Basketball

Teams of the decade: Wildcats experience highs, lows of success

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Culver-Stockton's James Johnson shoots a jump shot during the Wildcats' game against MidAmerica Nazarene Monday night in Charles Fieldhouse in Canton. (H-W Photo/Phil Carlson)
Phil Carlson
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jun. 29, 2020 12:01 am

Extreme highs. Extreme lows.

That pretty much sums up the last decade for the Culver-Stockton College men's basketball team.

The Wildcats won a single-season record 26 games during the 2012-13 season, earned an NAIA national tournament berth and advance to the quarterfinals. They returned to the national tournament the next season with another 24 victories.

Those were the highs. The lows included four seasons with single-digit victories, an 0-26 mark in the Heart of America Athletic Conference during the 2016-17 season and a 31-game losing streak.

Canton native Aaron Hill took over in 2018 as the head coach of the program and the trajectory has changed. The goal is more highs and fewer lows.

Here is a look at the C-SC men's basketball program's all-decade team for 2010-19, as selected by Senior Sports Writer Matt Schuckman:

CJ Adams, Guard, Class of 2014

A defensive dynamo, Adams developed into a solid offensive weapon to complement his dogged determination. Named the Heart of America Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year as a junior, Adams averaged a team-best 7.9 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. As a senior, Adams averaged 10.4 points, 4.9 rebounds and a team-high 3.6 assists. He was third in the Heart in steals with 45 and was a two-time all-conference selection.

Jojuan Graham, Guard, Class of 2015

As a junior, Graham was named an NAIA honorable mention All-American as he averaged a team-high 15.9 points per game, 5.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists. Graham shot 52.2 percent from the field, while ranking sixth in the Heart in scoring and second in field-goal percentage. As a senior, he was a second-team all-conference selection who averaged 18.1 points and 3.6 assists, ranking fourth and seventh in the Heart, respectively. He scored in double figures in 26 of the 29 games.

James Johnson, Forward, Class of 2014

The 6-foot-5 Johnson had a shooter's mentality. As a senior, when he led the Wildcats back to the NAIA national tournament, Johnson tied for first in the Heart of America Athletic Conference and was fifth in the NAIA with 106 3-pointers made. He also ranked second in the Heart and fifth in the NAIA with 3.31 treys made per game. Johnson led the Wildcats in scoring, averaging 19.7 points, to go along with 5.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. He was named to the NAIA All-American third team.

Mike Johnson, Guard, Class of 2019

Johnson's transfer from Lansing Community College was a boon for the Wildcats. As a junior, he broke the single-season scoring record with 735 points, eclipsing John Ernst's mark of 681 set in 1980. Johnson averaged 23.7 points, which ranked first in the Heart of American Athletic Conference and third in the nation. As a senior, Johnson averaged 20.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists. He led the Heart and was seventh in the nation with 66 steals. He was a first-team All-Heart selection and an NAIA honorable mention All-American.

Christian Jones, Forward, Class of 2016

A Louisiana native, Jones was a dominant force in the paint. As a senior, he averaged a double-double with 12.9 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. He led the NAIA in double-doubles with 17, was third in rebounding (10.6 rpg) and seventh in field-goal percentage (.584). A second-team All-Heart of America Athletic Conference selection, Jones averaged 12.9 points, 10.9 rebounds and shot a .586 clip from the field in conference games, He also grabbed 10 or more rebounds in a game 20 times.

Austin Keaton, Guard, Class of 2013

One of the top gunners on one of the best teams in program history, Keaton ranked second on the Wildcats in scoring as a senior at 16.1 points per game. He shot 45.6 percent from the field, 39.1 percent from 3-point range and 80.3 percent from the free-throw line. Keaton ranked 16th in the NAIA in 3-pointers made with 84, while also averaging 4.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. He was an All-Heart of America Athletic Conference pick and an honorable mention All-American.

Johnnie Mills, Guard, Class of 2015

Another member of the Michigan pipeline, Mills continued the Wildcats' run of national honors as he was named an NAIA honorable mention All-American as a senior when he averaged 14.9 points, four rebounds, 2.6 assists and one steal per game. He shot 42.9 percent from the field and 74.8 percent from the free throw line. Mills ranked eighth in scoring and 10th in free-throw shooting in the Heart of America Athletic Conference and was a second-team All-Heart selection.

Thaddeus Newby, Guard, Class of 2020

Newby established himself as a tenacious defender and solid offensively contributor, earning honorable mention All-Heart of America Athletic Conference honors as a sophomore and a junior. In 2019, as a junior, Newby averaged 11.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists. He shot 41.5 percent from the field and 40 percent from the 3-point arc. Newby made a team-high 72 3-point field goals, which ranked eighth in the conference. Newby averaged 12.4 points in conference play as a sophomore.

Marshawn Norris, Guard, Class of 2013

Norris' move across the river -- he originally was recruited to Quincy University -- fueled the Wildcats' run to the NAIA national tournament. A second-team NAIA All-American, Norris led the Wildcats in scoring at 18 points per game, assists at 6.7 per game and steals at 2.2 per game. He finished the second ranked fourth in the nation in assists (240) and in 3-pointers made (118). Both were single-season school records. He was the Heart of America Athletic Conference Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year, to go along with NAIA all-tournament honors.

Cullen Smith, Forward, Class of 2019

A two-time honorable mention All-Heart of America Athletic Conference selection, Smith provided the Wildcats with energy and bounce on the block. As a junior, the 6-foot-7 Michigan native averaged 11.2 points and a team-high 7.6 rebounds, which ranked fifth in the Heart in the regular season, while shooting 57.3 from the field. As a senior, he averaged 10.2 points and five rebounds, shooting 50.6 percent from the field and was second on the team with 20 blocked shots.