Highlights

Oakton Owls men’s basketball team looks to vex opponents with versatility, defense
(Oct. 26, 2017) According to Mick Reuter, head coach for the Oakton Community College men’s basketball team, flexibility will be the theme for this year’s edition of the Oakton Owls.

“With nine freshmen on the team this year, we’re young and lack a lot of height,” says Reuter, who is entering his 10th year as head coach. “However, with the roster we have, many athletes can play and guard every position. That flexibility will allow us to create more pressure on defense and create turnovers. Offensively, we’ll be hard to guard which will allow us to stretch the floor and create scoring opportunities.”

One of the newcomers Reuter will be relying on heavily this year is freshman guard Jordan Irving (Morton Grove, Maine East High School). Irving led the Blue Demons in scoring his junior and senior years.

“Jordan is an offensive machine,” Reuter says. “With our team’s makeup this year, we won’t be looking for him to carry the load in scoring. Instead, Jordan will play various positions and help all over the court.”

Irving adds, “Playing at the college level will be different for me. I’ll be needed to contribute more defensively. However, I bring a competiveness to the court that will help the team.”

Freshman Jeremiah Goldwair (Louisville, Kentucky, Male High School) is penciled in at point guard this year.

“Jeremiah is lightning quick,” says Reuter. “He’s a smart player who also is in the Air Force Reserve and might miss a few games for us because of that.”

The Owls will have experience with two returning players, Marion Johnson (Des Plaines, Maine West High School) and Christos Vassilakos, a Greek immigrant who attended Maine South High School.

Johnson, the team captain, will be looking to expand on last season when he started 27 games, averaging 10.2 points and 6.3 boards per contest.

“We’re looking forward to a good year,” says the 6-3 Johnson, one of the team’s tallest players. “We’re smaller than we were last year, but we will use our speed and athleticism to our advantage. We plan to outhustle opponents and always be the fastest team on the court.”

Vassilakos, a solid defender who stands 6-4 and weighs nearly 200 lbs., started seven games last year.

“Christos will be one of our regular starters this season,” Reuter says. “He’s one of the team’s hardest working players and sets the tone for us on defense with his physical presence.”

Irving says that even though this is a young team, the Owls have already grown in cohesiveness since starting practice back in August: “This is going to be a fun team to play on. We’ve been working hard on our communication with each other. Having that good chemistry will be beneficial and will help us to win games.”

The Owls open the season at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1, in a home contest against College of DuPage.

Oakton’s Beckford named NJCAA All-American
(April 14, 2017) Oakton Community College men’s basketball freshman Tafari Beckford (Skokie, Niles North High School) was named National Junior College Athletic Association All-American as a member of the second team.

“Tafari’s rare combination of size, skill, athleticism and mental toughness made him a nightmare for opposing teams, and he grew as a player and leader as the season progressed,” Owls head coach Mick Reuter said of the 6-5 guard. “The All-America honor provides recognition for the hard work he put in for the team throughout the year.”

Beckford earned all-region accolades in 2016-17, averaging 20 points, 10.7 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game, shooting 53.3 percent from the field, including 38.1 percent three-point shooting in 24 games.

“I’ve gone through a lot of ups and downs both in school and basketball-wise. Coming to Oakton, I just felt that my best shot was to keep up with school, stay on the court and try my best,” Beckford said. “Now, I feel like I’ve accomplished something, and it means a lot to me.”

The 2016-17 Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference (ISCC) player of the year averaged a double-double in ISCC play, en route to earning first team all-conference honors with an average of 21.5 points, 11.4 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.6 blocked shots per conference game.

“I’m proud of my team, even though we didn’t go as far as we’d have liked, and I feel like next year is going to be even better,” Beckford said, noting he’s inspired to work even harder. “We have a lot of confidence in ourselves, and as more people hear about us and come to our games to cheer us on, I feel that will give us even more confidence and it will be a great year next year.”

Owls’ Beckford, Matthew named to NJCAA Men’s Basketball All-Region Team
(March 1, 2017) The postseason honors keep rolling in for the Oakton Community College men’s basketball team. Freshman guard Tafari Beckford (Skokie, Niles North High School) tied for the most votes in balloting for the NJCAA Region IV Division II District 4 All Region Team, earning first team accolades. Sophomore captain Ryan Matthew (Park Ridge, Maine South) earned second team honors in the ballot.

Beckford,  the 2016-17 Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference (ISCC) player of the year, averaged a double-double in ISCC play, en route to earning first team all-conference honors with an average of 21.5 points, 11.4 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.6 blocked shots per conference game.

Overall, Beckford averaged 20 points, 10.7 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game, shooting 53.3 percent from the field, including 38.1 percent three-point shooting in 24 games.

“Tafari’s combination of size, skill, athleticism and mental toughness make him a nightmare for opposing teams,” said Mick Reuter, Owls head coach. “Throughout the season, Tafari grew as a player and a leader and was a big part of our turnaround this year.”

Matthew, a guard, was the Owls’ most consistent offensive threat throughout the season. In 30 games, he averaged 16.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.6 assists. He shot 45 percent from the field, including 34.3 percent from beyond the three-point-arc. The first team all-ISCC selection averaged 15.4 points, 4.5 assists and 4.3 assists in league contests for the Owls and earned league player of the week honors three different times..

“Ryan has been a steady contributor for us throughout the year,” Reuter said. “His leadership on the court and off has set a great example for our younger players. I am looking forward to watching him and the other players raise their level of play in regionals.”

The Owls (17-13) host Black Hawk College (14-15) in the quarterfinals of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II District 4 Men’s Basketball Tournament at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 2, in Oakton’s gymnasium, 1600 E. Golf Road, Des Plaines.

Oakton Owls men’s basketball guard named Skyway Conference Player of the Year
(Feb. 28, 2017) Oakton Community College freshman guard Tafari Beckford (Skokie, Niles North High School) notched a prestigious feather in his cap as he was named Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference (ISCC) Men’s Basketball Player of the Year.

In conference play, Beckford could be counted on for a double-double, averaging 21.5 points and 11.4 rebounds per game. The stellar athlete also averaged 5.3 assists and 1.6 blocks per contest in league games for the 2016-17 season.

“Tafari has a rare combination of size, skill, athleticism and mental toughness,” said Mick Reuter, Owls head coach. “He is matchup nightmare for opposing teams because he is so tough to guard. Throughout the season, Tafari grew into a leadership role with us and was a big part of our turnaround this year. I'm looking forward to watching his continued development.”

Beckford also garnered First Team All-Conference honors along with guard Ryan Matthew (Park Ridge, Maine South). The sophomore captain averaged 15.4 points, 4.5 assists and 4.3 assists per contest for the Owls in the ISCC.

Freshman forward Marion Johnson (Des Plaines, Maine West High School) and freshman guard Pat Hamilton (Northbrook, Glenbrook North High School) were named to the All-ISCC Second Team. Both consistent contributors, Johnson averaged 10.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists while Hamilton added 13.9 points and 2.9 rebounds per contest in league play.

The Owls still have work remaining on the season as the team (17-13) hosts Black Hawk College (14-15) in the quarterfinals of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II District 3 Men’s Basketball Tournament on Thursday, March 2. Tip-off is scheduled at 7 p.m., at Oakton’s gymnasium, 1600 E. Golf Road Des Plaines.

“We’re looking forward to the next part of the season,” said Reuter. “Our team will be prepared for an intense battle.”

Oakton Owls men’s basketball captain captures player of the week honors for third time
(Feb. 15, 2017) For the third time this season, Oakton Community College sophomore point guard and captain Ryan Matthew (Park Ridge, Maine South High School) was selected men’s basketball District 4 player of the week according to the latest Region IV National Junior College Athletic Association report.

Oakton, which competes in Division II, went 1-1 last week in Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference play. The Owls defeated Elgin Community College, 77-75, and dropped a 90-79 decision to Prairie State College. Matthew averaged 20 points, 6 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game in the two contests and is averaging 17.2 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.7 assists a game this season.

“For Ryan to win this award three times says a lot about his consistent play for us while we are chasing a conference championship,” said Mick Reuter, Owls head basketball coach. “He can always be counted on to come through in big games for us.”

Oakton Owls men’s basketball guard earns player of the week honors again
(Jan. 25, 2017) Oakton Community College freshman guard Tafari Beckford (Skokie, Niles North High School) was selected men’s basketball District 4 player of the week according to the latest Region IV National Junior College Athletic Association report.

Oakton, which competes in Division II, went 2-0 last week over Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference rivals. On Tuesday, Jan. 17, Oakton posted an 80-76 home win over Prairie State College and the Owls clawed out a 75-72 road victory against Morton College on Thursday, Jan. 19. During the two triumphs, Beckford averaged 21.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 9.0 assists per game.

Beckford, who also received player of the week honors earlier this month, leads the Owls averaging 19.9 points, 9.6 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game.

“Tafari continues his high level of play and his all-around performance on the court propelled us to a pair of conference victories last week,” said Mick Reuter, Owls head coach. “We need his energy and enthusiasm to continue winning.”

Oakton Owls men’s basketball freshman earns player of the week honors
(Jan. 18, 2017)
Oakton Community College freshman guard Pat Hamilton (Northbrook, Glenbrook North High School) was named men’s basketball District 4 player of the week according to the latest Region IV National Junior College Athletic Association report.

Oakton, which competes in Division II, went 2-0 last week over Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference rivals. On Tuesday, Jan. 10, Oakton posted a 94-58 home win over McHenry County College and the Owls notched a thrilling 102-96 overtime road victory against Elgin Community College on Thursday, Jan. 12. Hamilton was the scoring leader, averaging 27.5 points for the week. He dialed it up from long distance connecting on 14 3-pointers in the two contests.

On the season, the 6-4 guard is averaging 11.7 points per game and leads the Owls in 3-point field goals with 41.

“Through diligent work and constant reps, Pat’s extra efforts are paying off in greater consistency. The team can count on him whenever we need a basket,” said Mick Reuter, head basketball coach of the Owls. “The rest of the team fed off his efforts en route to two conference wins.”

Oakton Owls men’s basketball guard earns player of the week honors
(Jan. 10, 2017) Oakton Community College freshman guard Tafari Beckford (Skokie, Niles North High School) was selected men’s basketball District 4 player of the week according to the latest Region IV National Junior College Athletic Association report.

Oakton, which competes in Division II, went 1-0 last week with an 82-61 road victory over Truman College on Thursday, Jan. 5. In the victory, Beckford tallied 19 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals.

Beckford leads the Owls averaging 18.0 points, 9.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game.

“Tafari continued his stellar play last week despite a sprained ankle he suffered midway through the first half against Truman College,” said Mick Reuter, head basketball coach of the Owls. “He is a tough and unselfish player with impressive basketball skills.”