Coming into the 2017-18 season, Colorado Mesa University’s men’s basketball welcomed two transfers from Pima Community College (PCC): Emilio Acedo and Damon Dubots. Both stepped onto the scene and became immediate starters for this Mavericks team, and Acedo has flourished as the starting two guard.
Often times when players make the jump from junior college (JUCO) schools to Division I or II universities, it takes some time to get acclimated with the speed and type of play at the new level. However, that has not been the case with Acedo. He started the first exhibition for the Mavericks against Colorado State University, where he finished with 31 points as the leading scorer for both teams. His easy transition can be traced to the similarity between CMU and PCC.
“The offense we run and the stuff we do enhances my game,” Acedo said. “The transition has been pretty smooth. I had a really good coach from the JUCO level that kind of had the same style of play that we do here.”
However, having Dubots in the starting rotation has also helped with Acedo’s success. The familiarity between the dynamic duo shows when they are on the floor together.
“I am comfortable with him, and I know what he likes to do,” Acedo said. “I know what his strengths are. If it is just me and him I kind of know what he is going to do so it helps me out.”
But, as there always is, there are some key differences between the JUCO level and the DII level.
“What I am noticing is it is a lot more screening,” Acedo said. “There is a lot more motion. Multiple screens, a lot of back screens, stuff like that. It isn’t a lot of one on one ball or pick and roll action, you have to be more wearing. The ball might be over here but you are getting a screen on the other side.”
Despite the increased speed of play, and the motion of the game, Acedo has been able to fill the role the Mavericks needed perfectly. They needed someone who could score the basketball.
Acedo is currently second on the team, averaging 18.1 points per game, which is also good for sixth in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC). He is also coming off of a game where he put up 29 points on No. 22 Colorado School of Mines, which helped get him the RMAC Offensive Player of the Week. He is the only Maverick to receive that award this season.
“I think being a scorer is what I am pretty good at,” Acedo said. “I always have that in my mind as ‘Hey this is what I do best.’ But as far as coming in here and making this impact, I always think that I could be doing better, but to be doing how I am doing so far with the transition and for how quickly I jumped into it I think I am doing alright. Always room for improvement though.”
The pureness of Acedo’s stroke can be seen from the second he steps onto the floor and he has been showing it all season long for the Mavericks.
Currently, Acedo sits atop the RMAC in free throw percentage at 90.9 percent. On top of that, he is second in the conference at 3.1 three-point field goals made per game and sixth in three-point percentage. However, despite the Stephen Curry mantra that has three pointers becoming the most popular shot in basketball, the three-point shot is not Acedo’s favorite.
“I actually love the midrange the best,” Acedo said. “I love to shoot the three, but it is not my preferred shot. I would rather take a step in and get a higher percentage shot.”
Moving forward for the remainder of this season, and going into the 2018-19 season, Acedo sees several parts of his game that he hopes to improve upon.
“I have to work on my ball handling, I feel like that is my next major goal to make that a standout part of my game,” Acedo said. “Stronger too. If I am able to gain a little more weight under me, some strength, that would be two key factors to make me a better player.”
Acedo will hope to continue impacting games to help get the Mavericks into the RMAC playoffs in the coming weeks. But the junior is making a name for himself so far this season.