By Dave Wagner
When approached last spring by Eastern New Mexico University men’s assistant coach Mark Murdock about the possibility of coming to the school to play basketball, Tristan Largent did a bit of a double-take.
Playing for Garrett College in McHenry, Md., Largent wasn’t a player on Murdock’s radar when he went to scout the Maryland Junior College Conference state tournament.
That quickly changed, however.
“I went there specifically (to see) three or four kids (on other teams),” Murdock said. “But I watched Garrett and I liked two of their kids.”
Largent, a 5-foot-11 junior point guard, admitted he had to think a minute when Murdock approached him.
“When he said Eastern New Mexico, I knew it was nowhere near here,” Largent said. “But he had a lot of good things to say about it, and everything just fell in place.”
Largent signed with the Hounds shortly before the start of school in August, and things have gone pretty well for him to this point. He leads the team in scoring (10.6 ppg), steals (15), assists (26) and minutes played (31.1 per game).
Murdock and ENMU head coach Shawn Scanlan say he’s been the steadiest player to date for the Greyhounds (4-4), who meet Central Missouri State on Friday night and Drury on Saturday night in the NCAA Division II High Desert Classic at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
Murdock said Largent doesn’t have a lot of flash; he’s just a solid player.
“He’s very fundamental for a point guard, and very strong,” Murdock said. “Most guys look a lot better in the summer than they do playing in a system, but he looks better in a system. He’s very good within a structure.”
His toughest defensive assignment so far may have been against Texas A&M-Commerce’s Jermart Miller, the Lone Star Conference’s North Division preseason player of the year. Largent held him in check most of the way, but Miller got off late and rallied the Lions to a 71-69 win at Greyhound Arena last week.
Miller’s 4-point play — a 3-pointer with a foul on Largent that he said he didn’t really commit — put Commerce in front for good in the final seconds.
“There were times when I defended him really good,” Largent said. “But scorers know how to score, and he just made some tough shots.”
Part of the reason Largent, who is from Martinsburg, W. Va., was available late is that he had to attend summer classes to graduate from Garrett, and in the meantime other interested programs backed off.
He said his first experience far away from home has been a good one.
“I didn’t know what to expect, but I’m enjoying it out here,” he said. “It’s a nice, laid-back environment, and I really like the people.”
He admits he’s a little disappointed with the team’s record so far, but added that with a lot of new players this season there’s time for major improvement.
“I feel I could be doing a little more to help the team out,” Largent said. “I feel that every game so far we could’ve won. We’re just trying to get everybody to be a little more consistent.”