Todd Sands, a former member of the Mount Vernon Nazarene College men's basketball program from 1996-1999, has become the second Cougar in two months to sign a professional contract with the Coventry Crusaders of England's Elite League.
Sands, a 6-foot-7 center from Centerburg, Ohio, will join former MVNC teammate Adam Stevens, who is already playing for the Crusaders. The pair played together for three seasons while helping the Cougars post a 78-21 overall record and earn two berths in the NAIA Division II National Tournament.
"As I was with Adam, I am really excited about this opportunity for Todd," said MVNC men's basketball coach Scott Flemming. "I really felt that Todd deserved a chance to play professionally when he graduated last year. It was just not the right time. I have no doubt that he will make immediate contributions for the Crusaders. Because of the Christian ministry element of this team, Todd will also be able to use his talents to impact others while being ministered to himself."
A former All-Ohioan at Centerburg High School, Sands transferred to MVNC after playing his freshman season at the University of Findlay. Once in the blue and green uniform of the Cougars, he established himself as one of the premier post players in MVNC history. As a Cougar, Sands averaged 15.8 points and 7.5 rebounds over 99 career games. He also shot an incredible 70.4 percent from the field (679-of-965), which is the best all-time career field goal percentage in NAIA Division II history.
As a sophomore in 1996-1997, Sands was named to the Mid-Ohio Conference Second Team and the National Christian College Athletic Association All-East Region Second Team after averaging 14.8 points and 7.1 rebounds per game.
As a junior in 1997-1998, Sands led the nation by shooting 73.7 percent from the field (247-of-335) as he averaged 16.5 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. He was named to the American Mideast Conference First Team, the NCCAA All-East Region First Team, the NCCAA All-American First Team, and the NAIA Division II Honorable Mention All-American Team.
As a senior in 1998-1999, Sands became only the second MVNC men's basketball player to earn NAIA Division II First Team All-American honors as he averaged 16.0 points and 7.6 rebounds per game while shooting 69.8 percent from the field (229-of-328). He was also named the AMC Division II Player of the Year and an NCCAA First Team All-American. In addition, he was selected to the AMC First Team, the NCCAA All-East Region First Team as well as being tabbed the NCCAA East Region Player of the Year.
Despite only playing three seasons for the Cougars, Sands still ranks high in several MVNC career categories. He is third in career blocked shots (120), fourth in career rebounds (747), and sixth in career field goals made (679).
"I am excited about the opportunity that I have to play professionally," said Sands. "I plan on working hard and making the most of this experience. I feel like I have the ability to compete at the professional level, and now I just have to work hard and do my best."
"To now have two of our former players sign professionally is significant for our program," Flemming added. "I am confident that they will do well, and this may open doors for others in our program in the future."