(8-23-17) Head Basketball Coach Craig Doty assembled a Junior College power house men’s basketball program in Rockford, Illinois at Rock Valley College. This year he is using many of those building blocks in his job at Graceland University (Lamoni, Iowa).  Doty’s first season as the Yellowjackets head man last year ended with a 20-12 record and the program’s first NAIA Division I national ranking in program history

The ‘new foundation’ for the Yellowjackets include both his team and his coaching staff.

LT Davis
LT Davis

Joining a former Golden Eagle, who played at Graceland last season, LT Davis, will have plenty of familar faces as new teammates.

This year Doty brought in numerous players from his past teams at RVC:

Jared Mayes (Sr., 6’4″, 180 lbs, SF; Rockford, Illinois) – Mayes transfers to GU from the University of Sioux Falls (NCAA D2) in South Dakota where he played during the 2015-16 season. While at Sioux Falls, Mayes appeared in 23 games, starting 10 of them, while helping them to a 17-11 record. Mayes averaged 6.8 points per game while shooting 45.9% from the field. In a game vs. the University of Iowa at Carver Arena, Mayes led USF in scoring dropping 17 points against the Hawkeyes. He played two seasons at Rock Valley College under Coach Doty from 2013-15. A two-year starter for the Golden Eagles, Mayes helped lead Rock Valley to both a National Championship and National Runner-up finish while producing a 61-9 record over the two seasons. As a sophomore, Mayes averaged 14.7 points per game and 5 rebounds per game while receiving NJCAA Division III 1st team All-American status for the second consecutive season. As a freshman, Mayes averaged 19 points per game and 5.7 rebounds per game while shooting 50% from the field. Additionally, Mayes was named NJCAA Division III National Player of Year while gaining NJCAA Division III 1st team All-American honors.

Dalton Payton (Sr., 6’7″, 180 lbs, SG; Byron, Illinois) – Payton transfers to GU from Urbana University (NCAA D2) in Ohio. During the 2016-17 season for the Blue Knights, Payton started 23 out of 25 games, averaging 7.5 points per game and 3.9 rebounds per game while shooting 44.3% from 3PT range. Prior to Urbana, Payton played two seasons under Coach Doty at Rock Valley College from 2014-16 while helping RVC to a 2015-16 national championship. As a sophomore, he averaged 9.8 points per game and 4.3 rebounds per game while torching the nets for 39% from 3PT range. Payton averaged 10.3 points per game and 4.2 rebounds per game while shooting 38.5% from 3PT range during his freshman season.

Alec Pena (Jr., 6’7″, 215 lbs, PF/C; Rockton, Illinois) – Pena transfers to GU from Rock Valley College after playing the 2015-17 seasons for the Golden Eagles. As a sophomore, Pena appeared in 32 games averaging 16.3 points per game and 6.9 rebounds per game while helping RVC to 23 wins. During Pena’s freshman campaign while playing for Coach Doty, he averaged 5.3 points per game and shooting 53.7% from the field while assisting the Golden Eagles to 33 wins and a national championship. Pena, a high academic student-athlete, comes to GU fresh off a 4.0 GPA semester at RVC.

Garrett Schweighauser (So., 6’4″, 175 lbs, SF; Rockton, Illinois) – Schweighauser transfers to GU from Rock Valley College. As a freshman, Schweighauser appeared in 18 games and shooting 51.9% from the floor. A 2015 graduate of Hononegah High School, Schweighauser will have three years of eligibility remaining for the YellowJackets.

On the coaching side, they won’t need many introductions to each other, since the majority have Stateline area roots.

Quentin Canty and Frank Cimino join the men’s basketball staff as graduate assistant coaches. Both will be pursing their Master of Education in Instructional Leadership degrees at Graceland.

Canty comes to GU by way of Presentation College where he was a member of the men’s basketball program the past two seasons. As a senior, Canty was awarded the NAIA North Star Conference Champion of Character Award for his year-long service to an individual with cerebral palsy. Canty spent three total years at Rock Valley College including two seasons as a student-athlete and a redshirt year under Coach Doty. At RVC, Canty played in 70 games leading the Golden Eagles to a 50-20 record, two national tournaments including a national runner-up.

Doty talked about Canty:

“Quentin is going to be a star in the coaching world,. He has all the intangibles, he has an incredible work ethic, he wants to be great, and he has good knowledge of the game. Quentin also is a man of tremendous character who, despite not being the easiest kid to coach in his early days, is one of my former players who I am the closest to. He will be a tremendous asset to our Graceland program.”

Cimino finished his playing career this past season at Graceland University as an honorable mention All-Conference player.  Cimino played one season at Presentation College and two seasons at Rock Valley College. During his time at RVC, Cimino helped guide the Coach Doty-led Golden Eagles to a 61-9 record which included the 2014 NJCAA DIII National Championship and the 2015 NJCAA DIII National Runner-up.

“Frank is a well-rounded, talented individual. Whether he was banging in three’s or guarding the best player on the other team during his playing career, or if he is day trading on the stock market, Frank shows he can do whatever he puts his mind to. When we sat down in our post-season meeting last spring I was thrilled to hear he was interested in coaching as he pursues his master’s degree. He will do a great job as a graduate assistant for us at Graceland.”

Ben Kluzak returns for his second season as the head student assistant coach at Graceland and his third season working for Coach Doty. Kluzak spent one season at Rock Valley College under Doty where he assisted the Golden Eagles to their best season in school history which included a 33-3 record, a national championship and number one national ranking for the entire year. Prior to his time at RVC, Kluzak spent four season as a student-assistant at Rockford Jefferson high school.

“I am convinced that Ben is the hardest working student-assistant in the country,” Doty stated. “Whether it is moving students in and out of dorm rooms, doing laundry, setting up the gym for practice, player development, or monitoring study hall, Ben does it all. We will continue to give him more on-floor duties this year as he will be working with our varsity program for a second consecutive season.”

Sam Harrison joins the Graceland men’s basketball coaching staff as the Head Junior Varsity Coach. Harrison will also be a varsity assistant as he completes his undergraduate degree in business at GU. Harrison and Doty are far from strangers. Harrison and his older brother, Jack, both played for Doty at Rock Valley College. The younger Harrison and current Graceland senior point guard LT Davis are the only two Golden Eagles to win two NJCAA DIII men’s basketball National Championships at RVC. Both Davis and Harrison won the 2014 title, redshirted the following season, and won the 2016 national title.

“We look forward to Sam transitioning from student-athlete to coach this season,” Doty stated. “We are confident in Sam’s ability to connect with student-athletes, to teach, and to mentor. Sam has ran Midwest Elite Basketball camps each of the past three summers. He is natural when he is on the floor. His future is incredibly bright in the coaching world and we are happy to have him with us at Graceland.”

Ron Keller joins Graceland this year as a student-assistant coach from Rock Valley College. Keller helped the Golden Eagles to a 24-9 record this past season while coaching incoming Graceland recruits Alec Pena and Garrett Schweighauser.

“One of the last things I did before leaving Rock Valley to take the Graceland position was hire Ron Keller as a student-assistant coach. Ron is incredibly smart. He was a part of the head start program where he earned his high school diploma and his associates degree at the same time. He comes to Graceland as an 18-year-old with junior academic standing. Having worked one season under my former assistant and current Rock Valley head coach Evan Lavery, I know Ron will be more than prepared to take on many duties within our program as he hits the ground running at Graceland.”

Ben Grygiel rounds out the men’s basketball coaching staff at Graceland University for this upcoming season.  Grygiel  finished hissenior season of eligibility last season and will take on a role on the coaching staff as he completes bachelor degrees this year at GU.

Grygiel played for Doty for two seasons at Rock Valley, played a season at Minnesota Crookston, and finished his playing career at Graceland last season. Grygiel started 27 games last season at GU.

“Ben will be helping us out this season as his finishes his degree at Graceland. I think this will be a healthy transition for Ben as he moves from between the lines as a player to the sidelines as a coach. He will focus on player development with our guys this season. We are happy to have him with us.”

Graceland opens up at the Jaguar Tip-Off Classic in University Park, Illinois against NAIA Division II member Calumet College of St. Joseph on October 27th at 5:00 PM.

Thanks to Graceland University Athletic Department for portions of this story.