Tre Coggins

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Report: Air Force transfer Tre Coggins finds a landing spot

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Former Air Force guard Tre Coggins has found a landing spot, according to a report from ESPN.com.

The 6-foot-1 Coggins is heading to Cal-State Fullerton where he will have to sit out a year before becoming eligible to play his final two seasons in 2015-2016.

Coggins averaged 16.0 points as a sophomore with the Falcons, but he made the decision to leave the program in early May. Staying for his junior season would have triggered a five-year military commitment, and that’s something that Coggins was not prepared for. He also struggled with the requirements that come with being a cadet at a service academy.

“He said, ‘I’m not going to wait for someone else to make it. I’m going to transfer,’” head coach Dave Pilipovich said at the time. “He said, ‘Coach, I’ve been fighting this for three years.’”

Leading scorer Tre’ Coggins to leave Air Force program

Air Force v UNLV
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While Air Force didn’t enjoy as much team success as they had hoped for in 2013-14, sophomore guard Tre’ Coggins emerged as one of the better guards in the Mountain West. Coggins averaged 16.0 points per game for Dave Pilipovich’s Falcons, earning third-team All-Mountain West honors.

However the balance that service academy athletes have to navigate is a unique one, and according to the Brent Briggeman of the Colorado Springs Gazette that contributed to the decisions of Coggins and freshman center Darrius Parker to leave the program. Returning for his junior season would have triggered a five-year military commitment for Coggins, who according to the story struggled at times with the responsibilities that come with attending a service academy.

There was no guarantee that Coggins’ performance as a cadet would have been good enough for him to return anyway, but he took any guesswork out of that decision.

“He said, ‘I’m not going to wait for someone else to make it. I’m going to transfer,’” Pilipovich said. “He said, ‘Coach, I’ve been fighting this for three years.’”

Coggins has already sent out feelers to schools closer to his home in Southern California, but Pilipovich said no programs had responded as of Thursday morning.

Now that Coggins is officially leaving the program it’s likely that interest in the guard will pick up. Coggins’ decision leaves Air Force without a clear-cut option at the point guard position, and given the process of deciding which recruits will immediately enter the Academy and which ones will need to attend the Academy’s prep school that answer may not come until later this summer.

As for Parker, he averaged 3.8 points and 2.1 rebounds in 18 games in 2013-14. Parker began the season as a member of Pilipovich’s front court rotation, but that would change as the season wore on. Parker did play at least 15 minutes in three consecutive late-regular season games, including 21-minute outings in losses to UNLV and New Mexico.

h/t CBS Sports

Air Force will be without leading scorer Tre Coggins this week

Air Force v UNLV
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Air Force left home starting point guard and leading scorer Tre Coggins at home as they departed on a road trip that will take them to Boise State and Nevada. The news was first reported by Brett Briggeman of The Gazette.

Coggins was suspended by head coach Dave Pilipovich for failing to live up to the “standards that we expect out of our cadet athletes”, although he is not kicked off the team and is expected back at practice on Monday.

“It was not an academy decision; it was a men’s basketball program decision,” Pilipovich said. “Sometimes players just have to mature and get through some things and this was for the betterment of the team right now and where we’re at.”

Coggins leads the team in minutes played and averages 17.4 points.

Air Force’s 2-0 start in the Mountain West, and why you need to know Tre Coggins

Air Force v UNLV
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source: Getty Images

Air Force was not expected to be the worst team in the Mountain West this season. That honor was bestowed upon San Jose State, a team making their debut in the conference while coming off of a 9-20 season as a member of the WAC.

But the Falcons were still picked 10th in a league of 11 teams, and rightfully so. They went 8-8 in league play last year and returned around 20% of their scoring. Most notably, starting point guard Todd Flethcer and all-MWC scoring guard Michael Lyons both graduated. What was left for head coach Dave Pilipovich was a group of last season’s role players, with holes in the lineup getting filled with freshmen.

To make matters worse, three key members of the Air Force rotation missed time early in the season. Starting forward Justin Hammonds took a leave of absence from the team to work on his academics and sat out two games already this year while leading rebounder Kamryn Williams and DeLovell Earls both missed extended periods of time to start the season.

And, ironically enough, that may be the biggest reason that the Falcons have started the MWC season 2-0 with wins over Utah State and at UNLV.

That sounds convoluted, but it’s quite simple, really.

“Because [our veterans] didn’t play early, we had other players that we hard to play,” head coach Dave Pilipovich told NBCSports.com in a phone interview. “That meant more minutes for Tre Coggins, Max Yon, Marik Olesinski. Some guys off the bench. That’s given them some experience heading into conference play.”

“Now those guys have come back and have given us more leadership on the floor. But you can’t substitute for experience.”

Coggins has made the most of his opportunity, turning himself into arguably the most improved player in the league. As a freshman playing behind Fletcher, the 6-foot-2 Coggins averaged just 2.4 points in a little more than 10 minutes per game. This season, he’s playing nearly 35 minutes a night and scoring 16.7 points while shooting 43.2% from beyond the arc.

Not even the coaching staff saw that coming.

“We knew he had a chance to be a lead guard for us and have some success, but to the point he’s having it? No. His scoring ability has surprised us,” Pilipovich said, crediting the experience of learning from Fletcher as a freshman and witnessing Lyons’ work habits first-hand. “In the preseason, we threw the ball to him in the first practice and said, ‘this is your team now.'”

And while Coggins has taken advantage of the opportunity, he hasn’t been alone.

Both Yon and Olesinski have seen their scoring jump by more than 10 points-per-game while combining to hit 40 threes on the season, shooting better than 38% from beyond the arc. With those three playing well, the return of Hammonds, Williams and Earls could not have come at a more perfect time.

That’s a huge part of the reason for this 2-0 in league play, but there’s more at play.

You see, Air Force runs a Princeton-style offense. That makes them one of the toughest teams in the conference to prepare. You can watch it on film and you can practice against your second team running through the sets, but until you’ve seen it in person, it’s difficult to truly understand just how hard it is to guard a team running the Princeton.

The game against Utah State was the first for the Aggie’s as a member of the MWC. UNLV, as talented as they are, has a roster full of new additions. That, according to Pilipovich, played as much of a role in the wins as AFA’s effort and execution did.

“We can catch people off guard,” he said.

And not just opposing teams. Air Force picked off a couple of the MWC’s big boys last season, but a 1-7 performance in league games on the road cost them dearly. The Falcons are already 1-0 on the year away from Clune Arena, picking up that win at the Thomas & Mack Center, only the second time AFA has done that is 22 years.

Said Pilipovich with a laugh, “they’re young enough that they don’t know better.”