On Saturday, March 9, Donovan Fields, Kuba Niziol and Marcellus Garrick played their final game for Cal Poly Men’s Basketball. The seniors went out in style by totaling the three highest point-totals for the team. While the three junior college transfers’ time at Cal Poly was more limited than others, their impact for the program was immense.
When looking at Cal Poly’s roster, one may find it hard to believe that Fields was the program’s top point-scorer this season. However, the five-foot-ten-inch point guard undoubtedly earned the title. Fields even etched his name in Cal Poly record books along the way.
Fields registered 75 starts and 91 appearances in his three-year tenure at Cal Poly. The Newburgh, New York native transferred from Odessa College where he averaged 7.1 points and 3.2 assists per game. As a freshman at Odessa College, Fields shot 51.4 (76-for-148) percent from the floor and 88.5 (47-for-55) percent from the free throw line.
When Fields arrived at Cal Poly as a sophomore, his dominance on the court increased dramatically. Fields appeared in all 31 games, totaling 17 starts with an average of 26.4 minutes per appearance. At the free-throw line, Fields finished second among Big West players with an 86.7 (72-for-83) percent success rate. Field’s pinpoint accuracy from the free-throw line increased the following year to a single-season program record of 92.6 (75-for-81) percent – good enough for third place among all NCAA Division I players. Fields also holds Cal Poly’s career free-throw record at 89.6 percent. With 13 points per game as a junior, Fields started 30 of 31 matches and averaged a team-high 32.2 minutes per appearance.
Fields said he appreciates the fans in Mott Athletics Center who cheered him on with every jump-shot or assist.
“The crowd’s reactions, hearing them cheer every time we score or when they see a great play happen, that’s definitely something I’m going to miss.” Fields said.
In his final year at Cal Poly, Fields continued to break records and exceed expectations. Amongst one of the worst statistical seasons Cal Poly faced in decades, Fields broke the remarkable milestone of scoring 1,000 career-points. Fields was just the 24th player in program history to reach the mark. As a senior, Fields averaged a team-leading 17 points per game. The star point-guard scored in the double-digits 22 times this season, averaging a 39.7 (189-for-476) percent success rate from the field. In his final game as a Mustang, Fields became the first player in program history to amass 1,000 points, 300 assists and 100 steals – a testament to the player’s skillful versatility on the court.
At the conclusion of his last appearance for the Mustangs, Fields said he could not find the words to describe his emotions.
“Right now, it’s just a bittersweet feeling,” Fields said. “Some things you just can’t put into words. It’s amazing.”
Niziol played in 78 games over three years for Cal Poly. The six-foot-seven-inch, 210 lb. transfer from Howard College solidified himself as not only one of the Mustangs’ go-to forwards, but a versatile three-point shooter.
Niziol caught the attention of recruiters during his first collegiate season with Howard after he shot 44.7 (88-for-197) percent from the floor and 84.4 (27-for-32) percent from the free throw line. Niziol’s impressive basketball skills granted him the chance to represent his national team at the 2016 FIBA Europe U-20 Championship, where he helped lift the Poland U-20 team to a sixth-place finish.
Coming from a small college in Texas, Niziol said his transfer to Cal Poly was a dream come true.
“When I got [to Cal Poly], it was a whole new world,” Niziol said. “I had never been to California, I’m originally from Poland, so that was something I always dreamed of.”
During his junior year, Niziol’s shooting ability led him to convert 49 out of 142 three-point attempts for a 34.5 percent success rate. In his final season at Cal Poly, Niziol averaged 6.6 points per game and 3.7 rebounds per game. Niziol’s success rate from the field increased from the previous season, averaging 36.6 percent. Of his time at at Cal Poly, Niziol said he most appreciates the fans and the friendships he has made.
“Just being able to play with guys like [Garrick] and [Fields], it’s outstanding.” Niziol said. “For what we’ve been through the last three years, we’ve been through ups and downs, and I think we did a really good job at staying together and staying as brothers.”
Garrick tallied 55 games and 30 starts for the Mustangs in his two-years as a junior-college transfer. During his sophomore season with Hancock College, Garrick led the program with 15.9 points per game. The six-foot-four-inch guard also registered five rebounds per match with success rates of 48.1 percent from the floor and 35.9 percent from three-point range. Garrick said transferring out of a junior-college made him more appreciative of his time at Cal Poly.
“At first, I wanted to go anywhere that would give me a full ride,” Garrick said. “But, once I started getting different DI offers, I was like, ‘Okay, maybe I am a division one player.’ I thank the coaches for giving me the opportunity.”
Garrick’s role as a key player stayed consistent when he transferred to Cal Poly as the junior appeared in all but four games. During his first season, Garrick averaged 6.5 points per game and scored an impressive 41.2 (61-for-148) percent of his three-point attempts. Since then, Garrick’s time on the court only increased, going from just six starts last season to 24 starts as a senior. With 27.1 minutes per game, the guard shot 37.6 percent from the field and 34.5 percent from the three-point range. During Cal Poly’s match against Long Beach State on March 2, Garrick totaled a career-high of 30 points.
Similar to Niziol, Garrick said his favorite part about being a Mustang are the friendships and memories he has made. Garrick also pointed out how grateful he is for the opportunity the coaching staff at Cal Poly gave him.
“I will never forget any one of these coaches,” Garrick said. “I’m thankful that they brought me here and gave me the scholarship and the honor to play for this school and the fans […] There is nothing I can really do to suffice that. It’s been a dream.”