College basketball players come to Tyler Junior College and schools like it all over the country to get noticed and to improve their game so that when their two years are up, they are able to move on to the next level.
Their ultimate goal is to play in the annual NCAA tournament, appropriately dubbed March Madness.
Two ex-Apaches are experiencing just that.
The Iowa State basketball team, with a Big 12 Championship in tow, advanced to the Sweet 16 of the 2014 NCAA basketball tournament with a victory against Baylor on March 23.
The team from Stephen F. Austin won 29 straight games and advanced to the second round before falling to UCLA on March 23.
While one team remained alive after the tournament’s first weekend and the other saw its historic season end, they have one thing in common.
Both teams feature a former TJC Apache on their roster – Daniel Ezode for Iowa State and Sharife Sergeant for SFA.
Compton, Calif. native Azode played for TJC last season and signed with the Cyclones after his TJC stint.
As a junior at Iowa State this season, he has played in 23 games and started one, averaging 1.0 point per contest.
Those numbers may not be spectacular, but Ezode has been a contributor for the team that defeated Kansas and Baylor to win the Big 12 Championship.
At TJC, Ezode averaged 5.8 points and 6.7 rebounds as a sophomore. He shot 47.3 percent from the field and had seven double-digit rebounding efforts.
He averaged 5.1 points and 5.2 rebounds as a reserve in his freshman season.
Ezode and the Cyclones will face Connecticut on March 28 as they attempt to advance to the Elite 8.
Sergeant has been a part of a historic season at SFA.
The Jacks not only won 29 games in a row and finished with a 32-3 record, but also captured the Southland Conference title and the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament that goes with it.
SFA opened the tournament on March 21 with a victory against Virginia Commonwealth before falling to UCLA on March 23.
Sergeant, a Bronx, N.Y. native, played in 20 games for the Jacks and averaged 0.7 points per game. Like Ezode, his stats aren’t spectacular, but he was a big part of the Jacks’ memorable season.
At TJC, Sergeant played in 29 games, averaging 5.5 points and 2.8 rebounds per contest.
While Ezode and Iowa State still have hope for a national championship, Sergeant and the Jacks are already looking forward to his next year.
So are several other former Apaches that are playing at the Division I level but didn’t make the national tournament.
After all, that is what they came to TJC for.