Western Nebraska Community College’s Chad Gibney garnered the World Exposure NJCAA Division I Coach of the Year that was released Wednesday.
The World Exposure is a recruiting service for colleges for high school and college players.
Gibney said he was surprised to receive the honor because there were many outstanding head coaches in the junior college arena that could have received it.
“it is a great honor to be named national coach of the year. There are so many great coaches throughout the country and I feel truly blessed to be recognized as there are plenty people that are deserving of the award.”
There were four finalists named for the NJCAA Division I World Exposure Women’s College Coach of the Year. Besides Gibney, the other three finalists included Northwest Florida State’s Bart Walker, South Plains College’s Cayla Petree, and South Georgia Tech’s James Frey.
Gibney led the Cougars to one of their best seasons in school history, finishing at 28-2 on the season. WNCC ran off 26 straight wins before falling in the Region IX championship game to Casper College 64-62. The Cougars finished the season ranked No. 2 in the NJCAA final polls and earned their fourth straight trip to nationals, earning a No. 7 seed at this year’s NJCAA national tournament. The tournament was canceled because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Gibney, who has been head coach of the Cougars for the past 3 ½ years, guided WNCC to two Region IX titles (2017 and 2019). The Cougars have played one of the top 10 toughest schedules in the country according to the Massey Ranking, ranked 6th in the country according to the Massey Ranking. WNCC beast Top 20 teams Casper, Gillette, Otero, and Utah Valley State College, along with Region 11 champion Iowa Western Community College.
Gibney was also named the Region IX South Coach of the Year for a third time. He was the District coach of the year in 2017 and 2019.
Gibney, however, wasn’t the only Cougar to get mention. WNCC sophomore Tishara Morehouse was a Final 15 finalist for the World Exposure Sophomore of the Year. The organization said Morehouse is “considered the best available point guard in junior college. She is currently averaging 21 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 4.1 assists.”
The Sophomore of the Year went to Gulf Coast’s Ahlana Smith, who signed with Louisville after transferring from UCLA.
Gibney said it is an honor to see Morehouse among the list of the top players in the country.
“Any individual accolade is a team award,” Gibney said. “It takes a village and we are truly blessed to have great players, great support staff, and a great community.”
Region IX was represented in the other two awards the World Exposure Company gave out. Gillette College’s Kobe King-Hawea was named the Freshman of the Year. King-Hawea averaged 20.5 points a game. WNCC played Gillette at the regional tournament and won 77-63. King-Hawea led the Pronghorns in that game with 21 points.
Gibney said King-Hawea will be a force to be reckoned with next year.
“She is really good. She is a tremendous player,” he said. “She has a bright future ahead of her. She is going to be very difficult to contain again next year. It is great for our league to get recognized with some of these awards.”
Region IX also had a couple of other finalists. Otero’s Leah Mafua was a finalist for Freshman of the Year, while Casper College assistant coach Nate Macy was a finalist for Assistant Coach of the Year. The assistant coach of the year went to Northwest Florida State’s Zach Banks.
With the season now finished because the NJCAA suspended the spring sports season and canceled the national tourneys, Gibney is turning to the recruiting. For now, he can only recruit via phone and email until April 15 because of the COVID-19 situation. Gibney said this recruiting season will be different to say the least.
“I don’t know if anyone quite knows the landscape and the best way to go about things recruiting-wise,” he said. “Obviously, recruiting is a huge part of what we need to do because it is important, not only to identify the right players, but the right people to fit in our program.”
WNCC loses four sophomores that started all season in Morehouse, Vuliyana Valcheva, Taylor Joplin, and R’Manie Pulling.