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Volume 38 Issue1
August 28, 2000

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B-ball to rebuild with Lister
NBA veteran brings community college experience to table

BY CHRIS BOWMAN
MESA LEGEND
Submitted August 28, 2000



After a disappointing 9-21 season one year ago that was full of accusations of foul play off the court, MCC will look to Alton Lister, a 17-year NBA center, to rebound the program from its worst season in the 35-year history.

Lister, the Milwaukee Bucks all-time leader in blocked shots with 804, was a player/coach under Mike Dunleavy and the Portland Trailblazers, his only coaching experience, just before his retirement.

"My role was that I would work with big guys in practice and whenever they needed me I would go out and play," Lister said. "I would sit down with Dunleavy and he would ask me about the development of players and what was going on in the locker room with the young guys."

Lister never thought he would end up coaching, but working with the young players in the NBA during later stages of his career gave him a newfound passion.

Alton Lister
Jim Allen/MESA LEGEND
7-foot former NBA veteran Alton Lister prepares to lead T-Birds back to the top.

"It was a natural process for me," Lister said. "When I got of age, I just fell into the role of mentor. I started being a real positive force in the locker room and before you know it, guys are starting to pick your brain."

Even though Lister may have had other opportunities of coaching in the NBA, he has come to MCC to head his own program.

"This is a chance for me to get my feet wet. I really wanted total control so I can see if this is what I want to do for the rest of my career."

Lister is familiar with the Valley as well as community college life.† In 1978, he won a national championship playing at San Jacinto Community College in Texas. From there he moved on to Arizona State University and makes his home in Ahwatukee.

"I can relate well with these players," Lister said. "I was in the same position they are when I started my career."

"He is very familiar with the† community and will not be hesitant to get involved," MCC Athletic Director Allen Benedict said. "Lister has a very solid plan on how he wants to build his program. He understands the rules and he is going to follow them, and at this point Iím as happy with Alton Lister than anyone we could have hired."

Michael Shepston, a freshman forward from last yearís team, said to the Arizona Republic in May, "Just because he played in the NBA doesnít mean he can coach. They are already late in the recruiting process."

Lister, who now says he laughed when reading the quote, said, "I didnít give it a second thought."

Shepston, who considered transferring, will return for another season.

As far as being late in the recruiting process, Lister said heís not worried.

"We have 18 players out right now. Some of those guys we have signed and some we are considering, plus we have had a lot of interest in our try-outs."

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