June 2, 2013

Penny to play for JC power Cochise

by Beau Wicker

— Logansport senior Antonio Penny has decided on where he will play college basketball, with an eye on playing at the NCAA Division I level in the future.

Penny has signed a national letter of intent to play at Coshise College, a junior college in Douglas, Ariz. Douglas is located in the southeast corner of the state.

“Cochise is a really good Division I junior college,” Penny said. “My goal is I want to play at the Division I level, and this is my next step. It took me quite awhile to choose, but they have a really good coach and a lot to offer. I had other opportunities but other coaches had me hanging on a limb, but there’s no sense waiting. Cochise was the right choice.”

Penny, a 6-foot point guard, finished his career at Logansport at the Berries’ second all-time leading scorer with 1,542 points.

He averaged 20.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 3.3 steals per game his senior year, shooting 44.4 percent from the field.

“We’re really excited,” veteran Cochise coach Jerry Carrillo said. “From what I’ve seen on tape and the research we’ve done, he’s a really nice point guard. He’s very talented running a team. I think he’s got a lot of ability.

“We are a very up-tempo organization. This past year we finished eighth in the nation, scoring 89 points per game. Last year we led the nation at 94. I think he’s the type of point guard who can be very, very effective in an up-tempo system.”

Carrillo said Penny qualified academically to play in the NCAA. Penny graduated with a 3.5 GPA at Logansport.

Thus, Penny’s decision to go the junior college route was not based on academics but the fact that he thinks it’s his best route to become a Division I player. He’s getting a full-ride scholarship to play at Cochise.

Carrillo said Penny has D-I potential.

“I think he could definitely be re-recruited to the Division I level,” he said. “He’ll definitely have the opportunity to be re-recruited. With our style of play he’ll be showcased.

“First and foremost it’s can he make his team win.”

Cochise plays in the highly competitive Arizona Community College Athletic Conference. The conference’s 2012-13 player of the year, DeAndre Mathieu of Central Arizona College, is Big Ten bound as a Minnesota recruit.

“They play a lot of tough players,” Penny said. “All those kids are pretty much like me in that they could have played DI but they slipped through the cracks or they go down there because of grades. The competition level will be good of course.”

Cochise is a perennial top 20 junior college program. Carrillo said his 2006 team produced six mid-major players from a team that was ranked ninth nationally.

He added his squad played against the College of Southern Idaho’s Pierre Jackson two years ago in NCJAA regional play. Jackson went on to play at Baylor and is set to be drafted this June in the NBA Draft.

Penny isn’t the only player from the North Central Conference that will play for the Runnin’ Apaches next winter. LaBradford Sebree of Kokomo signed earlier in May.

Penny was originally hoping to stay closer to home, but the fact he’ll have a friend with him in Arizona factored into his decision.

“That’s a good connection, me and him have been playing ball together since the fourth grade,” Penny said.

Carrillo said Harrison High School coach Mark Rinehart, a former assistant of his at Cochise, is who first told him about both Penny and Sebree and provided game tape.