British

Will Saunders Wins NJCAA D1 National Championship With Central Florida

March 24, 2013 9:53 am 0 comments

by Sam Neter

Will Saunders

Former Great Britain Under-20 and current College of Central Florida forward, Will Saunders, has won the 2013 NJCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship

Saunders, originally from London, helped the Patriots (34-3) build a 15-point lead and hold off a late game run by Northwest Florida State to win 74-69 in the NJCAA National Championship game on Saturday night.

“It’s a great end to my Juco career,” said Saunders, talking to Hoopsfix after the win. “I won a national championship at Hackney college but to do it on a bigger stage in front of a lot of people makes it a little bit sweeter.”

The 6’7″ 195lb Charleston Southern commit finished with 10 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals and a block in the final (box score).

“We felt underrated again coming into the year but to come through and win a state championship and then a national championship was something that we knew was possible,” continued Saunders. “Ever since the first practice we believed we could do this.”

“I’m proud of my guys,” Central Florida coach Tim Ryan said. “We knew that (NWFS) was going to make a run, but my guys did a great job and made the plays there at the end.”

Central Florida, which claimed its first-ever national title in men’s basketball, became the third program from Florida to win the national title and first since 1995, in the first title game to feature two teams from the state in 58 years.

Saunders finished the season averaging 10.2 points and 3.4 rebounds on 43.8% shooting (40.8% from three) in just 14.4 minutes per outing, and is expecting to take his winning track record on to Charleston Southern next year:

“I’m going there expecting to win,” he said. “They won the conference regular season but lost in the final of the conference tourney to make the NCAA tourney, so the goal next year is to make it to March and from there see what we can accomplish.

“I’m gonna keep tryin’ to get better this offseason so that when I get on campus next year I’m ahead of the game and ready to make a name for myself and put on for where I’m from.”

Watch Will Saunders in action in the full championship game broadcast here.

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