Alumnus receives Men’s Basketball coach of the year awards

By Eric Devlin
In his first year, Mustangs Men's Basketball Head Coach Koran Prince has been named both the Eastern Pennsylvania Athletic Conference and National Junior College Athletic Association North Atlantic District Coach of the Year. Photos by Eric Devlin

In his first year, Mustangs Men's Basketball Head Coach Koran Prince has been named both the Eastern Pennsylvania Athletic Conference and National Junior College Athletic Association North Atlantic District Coach of the Year. Photos by Eric Devlin

Montgomery County Community College Mustangs Men’s Basketball Head Coach Koran Prince couldn’t have asked for a much better first season at the helm.

Koran PrinceThe 32-year-old, originally from Philadelphia, who lives in Ambler, led the team to a 28-3 season, which included a National Junior College Athletic Association Region XIX title for the first time in four years and a sixth-place finish in the NJCAA Division III National Tournament in Herkimer, N.Y.

As a result of the team’s success on the court, Prince was named both the NJCAA North Atlantic District Coach of the Year and the Eastern Pennsylvania Athletic Conference (EPAC) Coach of the Year.

Likewise, several of his student-athletes received praise. Cris Dinolfi was named most valuable player of the Region XIX tournament; Sean Emfinger was named to the national all-tournament team; Baasil Saunders was named EPAC first team All-Conference and All-Region first team; and Brandon Bush was named EPAC second team All-Conference and All-Region third team.

For Prince, a 2014 alumnus of the College, who himself played for the Mustangs, and served as assistant coach from 2019 to 2023, the accolades from this season speak to the value of hard work from everyone on the team.

“I think I did OK,” he quipped. “No, I think we did an amazing job. The coaching staff was great in assisting me and helping me out through the full year. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be in this spot.”

While the Mustangs’ season didn’t end quite the way the team wanted first losing its first game, then winning a second game, before losing the final game for fifth place, Prince said they still enjoyed the ride while it lasted.

“I thought the tournament was fun and exciting,” he said. “I thought it was great experience. A lot of the teams were really good, and they were tough. I think one thing that I learned was the physicality of the game is a lot different than what we experienced in the region.”

The players, he said, gained valuable experience from the tournament.

“They did pretty well,” he said. “I just think it was all new and they had to adjust to the physicality, keep a straight mind and continue to push through as they learn these new things.”

As a first-year head coach, Prince said the season presented both challenges and rewards. From managing different personalities from different backgrounds, to seeing the athletes’ smiles as they accomplished their goals together as a team, Prince said he learned a lot.

“We were number two on defense this year, I’d like to get the number one spot,” he said, “and just learn to be a lot mentally stronger and physically stronger – we’ll be implementing a new weight training program during the season.”

In the off-season, Prince said the Mustangs will lose about six sophomores, so his focus is replacing those players through recruitment. He also wants to continue to improve the team’s defensive performance.

In 2020, the Mustangs last went to the NJCAA National Tournament where the team was eliminated after losing both games it played.

Prince said there are many similarities and few key differences between the two squads. The 2020 squad led the country defensively, the 2024 squad came in second, he said. Both teams were able to bring a high degree of physicality to their play, including getting rebounds and turnovers. Prince said this year’s team though was more athletic and played at a faster pace.

“Four years ago, that team was coached by one of the best coaches I’ve seen in my entire life,” he said of Nyere Miller, now Assistant Director of Athletics for Recruitment. “That’s an amazing man.”

Miller likewise was impressed with how much Prince has done since taking over from him.

“I don’t think it gets any better,” he said. “He hit the ground running. It shows what he was able to do. There’s definitely an adjustment when you go from an assistant coach to head coach. Yet he managed to get the most out of his players. Not just impacting returners but bringing in a new group of athletes. There was no drop off this year. The team has continued to excel. We’ve been ranked the last four years. Montgomery County Community College basketball is starting to be known regionally and nationally.”

From his own assessment of the 2020 and 2024 teams, Miller said the 2020 team showed its inexperience in competing at a national level.

“I think we got overly excited winning the region,” he said. “It was our first time in a national tournament. A lot was new. Experience is a big factor. A lot of teams that have been there periodically have success.”

The 2024 team came into the season with the expectation of reaching the national tournament. While it lost the first game, it won the second game, before losing the third and final game. Miller said it’s a step forward.

“This year a national tournament has grown to become an expectation for us. A national tournament is something to strive for,” he said. “The last step is a national championship. Being ranked every year is part of that process. It’s a great step winning a game this year. The next step is winning multiple games and going from there.”

Kelly Dunbar, Director of Athletics and Campus Recreation, said she is very proud of all Prince has been able to accomplish in his first year.

“The foundation for him was led with Nyere,” said Dunbar. “They have a strong mentor relationship. He’s helped Koran and the program hasn’t fallen off. There will be highs and lows. As long as we keep it consistent with bringing in talent, we’ll remain competitive.”

Dunbar said she can still remember Prince as a student-athlete playing for the Mustangs when she coached the women’s basketball team.

“I was here when he was a student-athlete. I saw him as a player and saw him grow gradually,” she said, “and then as an assistant coach, grow into the person he is and take what he learned and make it his own.”

As an alumnus, Prince said it was amazing to be able to lead his alma mater to a national tournament in his first year as head coach. He thanked the administration and coaching staff for their continued support.

“I know everybody has dreams,” he said, “but I’ve always felt like I’m living my dream. When I was a player, it was the first year we were eligible to go to the playoffs. Twelve years later, I’m able to lead them to a national championship, it’s truly amazing. I couldn’t make this up.”