Freshman duo from Arizona among first RVC student-athletes on scholarship

Published: Dec. 11, 2022 at 11:07 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Not only is this the first year Rock Valley College athletics moves up to Division II, it’s also the first year RVC can award scholarships.

Among the players on scholarship for the Golden Eagles are freshman Blessing Nwotite and Jason Ernest, who come from the same high school in Arizona and make their presence felt in the program.

Nwotite and Jason Ernest first met at a Nigerian family get-together. Years later their relationship grew on the court for paradise honors high school in Arizona. Now they attend RVC on a basketball scholarship more than 1,700 miles away from home.

“Jason was looking at these other schools. I was bugging them. I started telling him you better come over here with me,” says Nwotite.

Just a dozen games into the season the freshman duo plays a big role on the court: Nwotite leads RVC in scoring with 13.3 points per game and Ernest is third on the team with 11.6 points per game.

“I was big on just betting on myself and (coach) told us we played a tough schedule. From the start, I’d be able to come in as a freshman and have a big role if I am who I thought I was,” says Ernest.

“I think JUCO is good because it allows these guys to come to the JUCO, become better, more complete players and go to the next level,” says Nwotite.

Head coach Tyler Bredehoeft says he wants to recruit local guys but scholarships give them the flexibility to find players outside the area to fill in those missing pieces.

“Blessing offers us a little bit of leadership. He’s not a super vocal guy, but he does everything right every day. He’s the type of guy that’s going to get here and work and everybody follows behind.”

“Jason offers us some size and some length and athleticism. We haven’t had in the three years that I’ve been here, and that’s valuable.”

Coach Bredehoeft says Nwotite and Ernest have a promising future with the program.

“We have a lot of respect for each other especially as you got to understand each other. We all have different places, but our goals are all the same: to come here to win a championship,” says Ernest.

Nwotite says one of his favorite memories is playing NBA 2K at coach Bredehoft’s house. Ernest’s favorite memory is high five Friday when the team talks to younger kids and answers any questions they have.