BELLEVILLE — For the second time in three years, former members of the Southwestern Illinois College men's basketball program will have a chance to dance in the Big Dance.
University of Albany junior David Wiegmann and Valparaiso University junior Jordan Coleman will fulfill lifelong dreams this week when they compete in the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament.
Wiegmann, a graduate of (Breese) Central, will compete with his Great Dane teammates in the Midwest Regional at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia at 11:15 a.m. Friday when 15th-seed Albany takes on second-seeded Duke.
Coleman (North Hollywood, Calif.) will compete with a 14th-seeded Valparaiso team which will take on third-seed Michigan State in a second round Midwest Regional game on Thursday at 11:15 a.m. at the Palace of Auburn Hills, (Mich.).
"I've been in contact with both David and Jordan and they are both very excited. We're very excited for them. To be able to play in the NCAA Tournament is something a lot of kids don't get to experience,'' SWIC coach Jay Harrington said. "The only problem is that playing Duke and Michigan State, they may not get to enjoy the tournament for very long.
"They're both great kids and I'm very proud of them.''
SWIC graduates in 2012, Wiegmann and Coleman are the latest of a number of SWIC players to compete in the NCAA Tournament.
In 2011, former Blue Storm standout Josh Harrellson helped Kentucky reach the NCAA Final Four. Other recent Blue Storm players who have competed include Lawrence Blackledge (Marquette), Lance Stemler (Indiana) and Marcellus Sommerville (Bradley).
Both Albany (24-10) (America East) and Valparaiso (26-7) (Horizon) earned NCAA Tournament bids by winning their respective conference tournaments.
Wiegmann, one of the top players in the area when he played for coach Stan Eagleson at Central, saw limited playing duty in 16 games for the Great Danes this season.
"David didn't play much early in the season, but as time went on he played a little bit more,'' Harrington said. "I know he's happy and he loves it at Albany.
"David is an excellent student who is majoring in pre-med. He's playing basketball and he's getting his chance to fulfill his dreams.''
Coleman averaged 4.6 points and three rebounds while playing in 29 of the Crusaders' 33 games this season.
"Jordan was the first player off the bench early in the season and playing a lot of minutes,'' Harrington said. "They've switched things around a little bit with a seven-man rotation I think most of those kids are seniors and so Jordan's not playing as much.''