Four hours north of South Portland, sits the University of Maine – Machias gym, a few Saturdays ago it filled with the SMCC Seawolves basketball teams ready to square off against the Clippers. The women played first and finished with a win. The men followed hustling onto the court and ready to play. Off to a strong start with just 20 seconds into the game number 33 sank a jump shot that were the first points on the board for SMCC. Unfortunately the Men Seawolves would fall to the Clipper that Saturday afternoon.
I want to tell you about a fellow student athlete putting up big numbers on the scoreboard. Jose Nouchanthavong comes to SMCC from Westbrook High School. You’ve probably seen him around campus; he’s average height at 6’1”. If you have been to the gym your chances are even higher, that you have seen his involvement with the love of his life, basketball. Jose poses a grace and skill on the court that is a pleasure to watch, especially when you are sitting 20 feet from the action.
Jose averages this season are quite impressive. In the USCAA individual rankings, at the time of this writing he holds 5th place for his 3pt shooting percentage, is 2nd for the number of assists with 121 in the USCAA men’s and is 3rd in the YSCC conference. Jose is leading the USCAA standings for number of games he has started at 22. He also ranks 4th in the conference for number of steal.
Jose plans to earn his associates in business following the completion of this semester. He hopes to continue playing basketball, wherever his life takes him, may it be onto a four-year school or overseas.
I asked him what he likes most about basketball and his responses were not shocking considering the level of competitiveness he plays at. One of his goals, he mentioned, was to play overseas; which surely would challenge his skills and limits.
When asked about the pleasure of playing Jose said, “I love giving a great no look pass or just finding someone wide open for a bucket when no one sees it coming and I also like to cross someone over and hearing the crowd go ‘oooooh or aaawww’ “
Asked about the players he looks up to, Jose mentioned a few including Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and Michael Jordan. He pointed out Jeff Green in particular for his life story. “In 2011, he had something wrong with his heart and needed heart surgery because it was life threatening. He wasn’t suppose to come back and play as he did or play at all, but he kept working back into it and end up playing way better and is one of the top players in the league. His story tells you that you can do anything that you want to do if you put your heart into it!”
Jose ended our brief talk by adding, “Also, one of my teammate’s brothers told me that I was his favorite basketball player, even more then Kobe… It was shocking, but it made me happy, proud, and humble that I could be somebody’s favorite player.”
In early January the men’s basketball team visited the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center visiting with children patients. Reflecting on the visit Jose stated, “That visit makes you realize what you have and little things that maybe frustrated me or my teammates are nothing compared to what some of those kids have to deal with everyday. It really makes you appreciate what you have.”
As the season and Jose’s playing tenure winds down at SMCC, one can hope that all fans of basketball appreciate what Jose brings to the game, as well as to life.