Seven more players join BenU at Mesa for school’s inaugural basketball season

July 13, 2015

Mesa, Arizona ~ Seven players signed letters of intent to play basketball at Benedictine University at Mesa at ceremonies on July 10, in the Community Room of Gillett Hall at 225 E. Main St. The seven joined 14 other players who already signed letters to play for head coach Steve Schafer during the program’s inaugural season in 2015-16.

The Benedictine Redhawks are members of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the California Pacific Conference (CAL PAC) and will be eligible to compete for conference and national titles beginning with the 2016-17 season.

“This is a very exciting time for our athletics program as we enter our inaugural season of men’s basketball and for competing as members of the NAIA and CAL PAC,” said Steve Schafer, associate athletic director and head men’s basketball coach. “We have a great group of young men and we are excited to welcome them to our Benedictine family.”

Players who signed their letters of intent on July 10 include Troy Conley, a 6-foot junior guard from Phoenix Community College (Ariz.) who ranked second in the nation in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) with 111 made 3-point field goals last season. Conley, who prepped at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, Ariz, helped Phoenix CC finish third in the nation in NJCAA Division II.<

Also signing is 6-5 senior forward Kyle Tomlinson (Dobson High School, Mesa, Ariz.), a transfer from NCAA Division II University of Alaska Fairbanks. Tomlinson appeared in 26 games and made 18 starts for Alaska Fairbanks, averaging 4.9 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. He began his playing career at Mesa Community College, where he helped the Thunderbirds go 26-5 in 2013-14.

Monnard Brown, a 6-5, 250-pound junior, joins the Redhawks from South Mountain Community College (Ariz.) where he was named First Team All-Region and Second Team All-Arizona Community College Athletic Conference (ACCAC) as a sophomore after averaging 17 points and 10 rebounds per game. Brown graduated from Inderkum High School in Sacramento, Calif.

Brown’s South Mountain teammate, 6-0 sophomore guard Nathan Worley, a graduate of Cesar Chavez High School in Phoenix (Ariz.), appeared in nine games as a freshman for South Mountain averaging 2.6 points and shooting 45 percent from 3-point range while dishing out six assists as a reserve guard.

Six-foot-8, 220-pound junior Melvin Orji (Campo Verde High School, Gilbert, Ariz.) comes to BenU at Mesa via Chandler-Gilbert Community College, where he played where he played in 26 games off the bench in 2013-14. Orji spent his freshman year at Benedictine University at Springfield (Ill.). He sat out the 2014-2015 season and will have two-years of eligibility remaining.

Jalen Jenkins, a 6-5, 200-pound freshman guard from Red Mountain High School (Mesa, Ariz.), averaged nine points, six rebounds and four assists per game as a senior for the Cougars. Jenkins helped lead Red Mountain to a 17-11 record and was voted first team all-conference.

Also signing is Jashawn Brown, a 6-3 freshman guard from Tempe High School (Tempe, Ariz.). The all-conference selection averaged 11.7 points, six rebounds and two assists per game as a senior and helped lead the Buffaloes to a 20-9 record. As a junior, Brown averaged 16 points, eight rebounds and six assists per game.

The fourteen players who have already signed letters of intent to play at Benedictine include current students Anthony Vareia and Jorge Cano. Vareia is a 6-1 redshirt freshman from Marcos de Niza High School in Tempe, and Cano is a 6-7 redshirt freshman from Maryvale High School in Phoenix.

The other 12 players who will suit up for Benedictine next season are: 6-6 senior Reggie Kindle (Riverside Community College, Long Beach, Calif.); 6-8 junior Casey Lenz (Desert Ridge High School, Mesa, Ariz., South Mountain Community College); and 6-1 junior Charles Wardell (Northwest Secondary, Milwaukee, Wis., Mesa Community College).

Also, 6-4 junior Gus Leon (Trevor Browne High School, Phoenix, Ariz., Scottsdale Community College); 6-3 junior Trevor Tellin (Grapevine High School, Grapevine, Texas, North Iowa Area Community College); 6-0 sophomore Anthony Bryant (Gilbert High School, Gilbert, Ariz., South Mountain Community College); and 6-2 freshman Richie Thornton Jr. (Bishop Gorman High School, Las Vegas, Nev.).

Also, 6-3 freshman Levi Thomas (Columbia High School, Decatur, Ga.); 6-2 freshman Abdoul Mika (John D. O’Bryant High School, Dorchester, Mass.); 6-2 freshman Nik Thomas (Seton Catholic High School, Chandler, Ariz.); 6-3 freshman Jon Rivera (St. Mary’s High School, Phoenix, Ariz.); and 5-8 freshman Trevon Smith (Ida B. Wells Middle College, Seattle, Wash.).

Also, 6-3 freshman Nate Anaya (St. Mary’s High School, Phoenix, Ariz.) and 6-0 freshman Garret Rozell (Corona Del Sol High School, Tempe, Ariz.).

For more information about the BenU at Mesa men’s basketball program, contact Schaferat (602) 888-5511 or


Benedictine University at Mesa is a branch campus of Benedictine University, an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago. Founded in 1887, Benedictine is ranked No. 1 among the country’s fastest-growing campuses between 2002-2012 in The Chronicle of Higher Education’s list of private nonprofit doctoral institutions, and Forbes magazine named Benedictine among “America’s Top Colleges” for the fourth consecutive year in 2014.

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