New faces working to make an impact for Jimmies in summer workouts
The Jimmies have been scrimmaging and going through drills.
JAMESTOWN — Three newcomers to the University of Jamestown are not waiting until August to get acclimated to the campus and the team. They are putting the work in this summer to help the Jimmies get back to the Sweet 16.
“We’ve been doing that for about two or three years where we have some of our new incoming guys come out for the summer and I think it helps, not only with picking up with the pace but getting to know our offense and defense and what we do,” Jimmies head coach Danny Neville said. “I think the most important thing to me is they get comfortable with the guys and the town and everything and when they come officially in August then it’s not a fresh start. They feel like they’ve already been here.”
While the Jimmies work on the basketball courts at the Two Rivers Activity Center, Jimmy Llinas, Carson Woodford and Colby Vazquez are working right alongside their more veteran teammates. Llinas, Woodford and Vazquez are not the only new faces at Jimmies practices as the team also has a new graduate assistant, Louis Parker.
Llinas comes to the Jimmies program from St. Xavier University (Ill.), while Woodford enters as a freshman from Redwood Valley High School (Minn.). Vazquez transferred to UJ from Skyline College (Calif.). Parker spent the 2021-22 season as an assistant coach at his alma mater, McPherson College (Kan.).
Woodford’s transition to the program has been helped by his experience learning from his brother, Cole, a junior guard for the Jimmies.
“I already knew some of the guys, they were teaching me through the plays and I’m getting used to the drills,” Woodford said. “It’s definitely a different pace than high school ball, a lot faster. It’s good to get here early and adjust early so I come in August and I’m not completely lost.”
Llinas is one of four players transferring into the program, alongside Vazquez, Reid Gastner and Marcus Sherwood. Llinas said his experience playing at the NAIA level will help him as a Jimmie.
“It’s helped me a lot,” Llinas said. “I learned a lot, I played against a lot of different talents, experienced a lot of different things. It’s been a big help for sure.”
The workouts are just offseason practice, but Llinas said the competition level has been comparable to a game.
“It’s a pretty high level, everyone plays really hard,” Llinas said. “You gotta be on your A game every single time no matter what.”
Vazquez said the decision to workout with his teammates compared to staying home and working out in Millbrae, California, was an easy one.
“The coaches and players already talked to me in my visit about what it’s like here in the summer and how much I can individually benefit from it and how much as a team we can benefit from getting up here and working early,” Vazquez said. “It was a little hard at first but it’s been great. …. I’ve gotten to know a lot of the guys really well now compared to if I came in later. I’m able to connect with them on and off the court and see how we can play together and work together. It’s been a really good decision to come up here early and work with the guys.”
As a coach, Parker said being at practice learning the plays and the system will only help him once the season rolls around.
“Now that I’m here for the summer, the things that I’d be learning in August, I’m learning now,” Parker said. “So, once we get into August and the school year and the season, I’ll be caught up.”
The same sentiment was echoed from a player’s perspective by Woodford.
“The pace of the game is so much faster, a lot bigger guys,” Woodford said. “Everyone is a lot stronger, faster, and it will give me a good look on what the competition will be like in coming years.”