KCKCC student receives Ella Fitzgerald Memorial Scholarship

Christian Anderson

by Kelly Rogge, KCKCC

One student at Kansas City Kansas Community College is the first to receive a scholarship from the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation under a new partnership.

KCKCC recently reached an agreement with the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation regarding a new music scholarship – the Ella Fitzgerald Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship will provide one music or audio engineering student per year with a full-tuition scholarship that covers all college-related fees and expenses.

KCKCC’s first recipient is Christian Anderson, a second-year music major from Shawnee, Kansas.

“I cannot begin to express how grateful and humbled I am that the faculty saw fit to name me the first Ella Fitzgerald Scholar at KCKCC,” Anderson said. “The fact that they thought me deserving of this serves as a great encouragement to me to keep giving my all despite whatever may happen in an uncertain future. This is truly a great honor that I am very excited to have received.”

The Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation was established in 1993 by Ella Fitzgerald, a world-renowned jazz artist. Fitzgerald wanted to share her passion for music and reading with people of all races, cultures and beliefs as well as to help at-risk and disadvantaged members of society achieve a higher quality of life.

The foundation’s four main areas of focus are – creating educational and other opportunities for children; fostering a love and knowledge of music, including assistance to students of music; the provision of health care, food, shelter and counseling to those in need and specific areas of medical care and research, with an emphasis on diabetes, vision problems and heart disease.

The foundation’s scholarship program began in 1996 at the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at California State University-Long Beach. The program has since expanded, and the foundation now funds 30 scholarships at schools throughout the United States.

“It is an honor for us to have been invited by the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation to be one of their educational partners,” said Dr. Justin Binek, assistant professor of music at KCKCC. “For us to be part of a list that includes such wonderful jazz programs as California State University-Long Beach, the University of North Texas and North Carolina Central University is remarkable. And I couldn’t think of a more deserving student to be our first Ella Fitzgerald Scholar than Christian. In addition to being a truly excellent and well-rounded musician, in my opinion he’s an even better person.”

KCKCC was chosen as an Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation partner, in part, because of the college’s repeated national exposure through the Downbeat Student Music Awards and performances at various national conferences.

In addition, Dr. Justin Binek, assistant professor of music at KCKCC, completed his doctoral research on Fitzgerald’s improvisation techniques and the foundation has expressed interest in partnering with a community college that had a high percentage of minority students.

“KCKCC is ecstatic to have a partnership with the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation. This award is another indication of how highly regarded our Music Department has become, along with the 14 DownBeat Student Music Awards that our students – mostly vocal – have won in the last four years,” said Jim Mair, music professor at KCKCC. “Kansas City, Kansas, is also the birthplace of Charlie Parker, Carmell Jones and Dr. Nathan Davis, all of whom performed with Ella Fitzgerald, and KCKCC Professor Dr. Justin Binek wrote his dissertation on the evolution of Ella’s scatting. All of the pieces of the puzzle are coming together to perpetuate the Kansas City, Kansas, connection to swing, soul and the evolution of jazz music.”

Anderson, a graduate of Shawnee Mission Northwest, focuses primarily in voice, and performs a diverse range of styles, including classical, jazz and musical theatre. He is a member of KCKCC’s award-winning vocal jazz ensemble, The Standard. An excellent academic student as well, Anderson studies piano and he is active in KCKCC’s Theatre Department.

“We are honored that the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation selected KCKCC to be one of the few institutions in the country to offer their scholarship,” said John Stafford, associate professor of music, director of choral activities. “I am excited about Christian earning this award. Of the 10 candidates we were considering, Christian had the highest GPA among all of them. Also, a special thank you should go to Dr. (Justin) Binek for being the liaison between the college and the foundation in organizing this opportunity. This wouldn’t have happened without his hard work and insight.”

Burgette, Rhodes, Davis win Jayhawk post-season honors

Jayhawk Conference Division II Coach of the Year Brandon Burgette, who led KCKCC to its first conference title in 50 years, was joined on the All-Jayhawk team by, from left, first team member Jalen Davis, Defensive Player of the Year Robert Rhodes; and Deron McDaniel, who along with Rhodes was named to the second team. (KCKCC photo by Alan Hoskins)

by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC

Kansas City Kansas Community College’s Brandon Burgette is the Jayhawk Conference Division II Basketball Coach of the Year for 2020; freshman Robert Rhodes Defensive Player of the Year and sophomore Jalen Davis a first team All-Jayhawk East selection.

In addition, Rhodes and freshman Deron McDaniel were named to the second All-Jayhawk team as chosen by a vote of the conference coaches.

Burgette took the Blue to the Jayhawk East championship for the first time in 50 years in just his first year as head coach. Not since 1969 when KCKCC won the old Interstate Conference title had a men’s team won a conference championship.

The Blue Devils then followed that up with a come-from-behind 75-68 win over nationally ranked Johnson County to win the Plains District championship and a berth in the NJCAA Division II national tournament tentatively scheduled to start April 20 in Danville, Illinois. However, the NJCAA has canceled all basketball championships and spring sports because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Burgette cleared several hurdles on the road to the conference championship and national tournament berth – a very late start in recruiting, playing nine of the first 11 games on the road and the loss of two top scorers because of ACL injuries.

Just 1-7 and 2-8 to start the season, the Blue Devils (18-13) rebounded to reel off eight straight wins on the way to the conference championship and 10 wins in their last 11 games.

A 6-7 forward from Cypress Springs, Texas, via Park Hill South, Rhodes was an easy choice in earning Defensive Player honors, leading the conference in rebounds (9.3) and blocked shots (2.2) by wide margins. He also led the Blue Devils in steals (1.3) and had the fourth best shooting percentage in the conference (.580).

A starter in every game, Rhodes averaged 8.2 points and 1.7 assists. His season included 10 double-doubles, 10 or more rebounds in 15 games and scoring in double figures in 12 games with a season high of 16 points.

Davis, a 6-4 guard from Houston, Texas, led the Blue Devils in scoring with a 13.9-point average that was fourth best in the Jayhawk. He also finished ninth in the nation in free throw percentage (.851) and third in the conference in 3-point accuracy (.397).

Shooting 50.9 percent from the field, Davis had six games with 24 points or more including highs of 28, 29, 30 and 31. In addition, he averaged 4.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.2 steals, As a freshman, he was third in scoring (8.1) and led in field goal percentage (.501).

McDaniel, a 6-0 guard from Next Level Prep in Kansas City, Missouri, finished fifth in the conference in scoring with 13.5 points a game. He also led the team in 3-point field goals (68) and assists (3.3) with a season high 11.

McDaniel was at his best down the stretch, averaging 15.4 points in conference play and scoring in double figure in nine of 10 Jayhawk games. In addition, he scored in double figures in 18 of 27 games including nine games in which he scored 18 or more including a high of 23.

Johnson County’s JaQuaylon Mays, was named the Jayhawk Player of the Year while Highland’s Marquise Milton, who led the league in scoring at 18.0, was named Freshman of the Year. They were also named to the first team with Davis, Rashon Johnson of Highland and Lukas Milner of JCCC.

Rhodes and McDaniel were joined on the second team by Kannon Jones and Craig Jordan of Fort Scott and Michael Flenory of Labette while Vinny Baron of Fort Scott, Jacob Baker and Langston Flowers of Hesston and Bryson Dennis and Tyler Garrett of Labette made up the third team.

Blue Devils’ Davis named Jayhawk player of the week

Jalen Davis (Photo from Kansas City Kansas Community College)

For the second consecutive week, Kansas City Kansas Community College had the Jayhawk Conference Men’s Division II Basketball Player of the Week,

Jalen Davis, a 6-4 sophomore guard out of Houston, Texas, was honored for his performances in Blue Devil wins over Hesston and Fort Scott in Week No. 14.

Freshman Robert Rhodes was the Player of the Week in Week No. 13 and the Lady Blue Devils’ Kamryn Estell earned the honor in mid-season.

Davis had 24 points and three rebounds in an 80-60 win at Hesston and followed it up with a team-high 18 points in a 74-69 win over Fort Scott that clinched a share of the Jayhawk Conference championship Feb. 15.

Davis is fifth in the Jayhawk Conference in scoring with a 13.5-point average. He’s scored in double figures in 16 of the Blue Devils’ 29 games and has highs of 31, 30, 29 and 28 points. He’s shooting 49.5 percent from the field and 38.1 percent from 3-point.

The Jayhawk champion for the first time in the 50-year history of the conference, the Blue Devils are the No. 1 seed in the Region VI playoffs and will play host to the winner of Friday’s Labette-Fort Scott first-round game next Tuesday at 7 p.m. Meanwhile, the KCKCC women will play host to Hesston in a first-round playoff game Friday at 6 p.m.