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East Central Oklahoma Men's Basketball

Tiger Basketball School at East Central University

Head Coach Ja Havens

Ja Havens
Head Coach

Phone: (580) 559-5567

Ja Havens became the seventh head coach for the East Central University men’s basketball team in April 2013. Havens has been a college coach for 19 years and been a part of many championship teams. In his time at ECU, he has averaged over 20 wins per season, and the Tigers have made history at the NCAA level.

The 2016-2017 season was the most successful season for East Central University Men’s Basketball in the NCAA II era. The Tigers won 25 games, the regular season GAC title which made it back-to-back championships, won the GAC Tournament Championship, and went to the NCAA II National Tournament and won their first round match-up. During this historic season, the Tigers set 5 program records as a team and littered the record books with individual accomplishments as well.

Consensus All-American guard Braxton Reeves headlined much of the season capping off one of the most decorated careers in ECU Men’s Basketball history. Reeves was the unanimous Player of the Year in the Great American Conference (1st time ever in GAC history) and now holds many ECU & GAC records. Forward Ishmael Donzo was named 2nd Team All-Conference while being one of the best post players in the league on both ends of the floor. During their GAC Tournament Title run, Reeves, guard Brett Cannon, & guard/forward KD Moore were each named to the GAC Tournament Team. Coach Havens’ players have now received nearly 60 honors in 4 seasons for their exceptional play. 

In the 2015-2016 season, the Tigers won the GAC Regular Season Championship for the first time in program history and went 22-8 overall, which was the most wins for a Tiger team in nearly 20 years. This also gave the Tigers back-to-back 20 win seasons for only the 3rd time in school history. While on their way to winning the GAC title, the Tigers set the GAC team scoring record by scoring over 82 points per game and also broke the GAC record for free throws made and attempted in a season by a team.

Individually many Tigers had great seasons as well. Stirling Thomas was a D2 Bulletin Pre-Season All-American and backed that honor up by leading the GAC in scoring at over 19 points per game and was unanimously named 1st Team All-Conference & 2nd Team All-Region for the second year in a row. Braxton Reeves built off a strong sophomore season and was also named 1st Team All-GAC as the Tigers were the only GAC program to have 2 players named 1st Team All-Conference. Newcomer Ishmael Donzo was awarded Honorable Mention All-GAC, and each of the aforementioned Tigers were named GAC Player of the Week during the season too. 

In the 2014-15 campaign, the Tigers won more games (21) than any other NCAA II program in the state of Oklahoma, finished 2nd in the Great American Conference regular season standings, and advanced to the GAC Tournament Championship game.

There were other milestones that Havens’ team achieved this season. All season the Tigers were among the best offensive teams in the GAC. The team broke the ECU records for 3-point field-goals made in a season and for total assists in a season.

Many individual Tigers were recognized for their outstanding efforts on the floor too. Junior Stirling Thomas was a unanimous 1st Team All-GAC selection, senior Henry Pwono was selected 2nd Team All-GAC, and sophomore Braxton Reeves was selected Honorable Mention All-GAC. Thomas, Pwono, and Reeves were also named to the All-Tournament Team during the GAC Tournament and were each named GAC Player of the Week during the regular season.

In his first season at the helm of the Tigers’ program, Havens made an immediate impact, helping the team have one of the more successful seasons since 2002-03 when they made their last trip to the Lone Star Conference Tournament.  The Tigers finished 15-12 overall, their first winning season since 2007-08, improving from an 8-18 mark in 2012-13, and made the GAC Tournament for the 1st time since joining the conference.

ECU also saw two players earn All-GAC honors in senior Colby Carr (2nd Team) and junior Brandon Lucas (Honorable Mention) and junior Henry Pwono was named to the GAC All-Tournament Team.

Before starting his coaching career, Havens played for two seasons at Northeastern State (1996-98) and was named to the LSC All-Academic Team. He spent his first two seasons at St. Gregory’s (1994-96) and was named a NJCAA Distinguished Academic All-American.

Havens father is legendary coach Jerry Havens. Jerry has been a coach for 38 years and has been inducted into the Oklahoma Coaches Association Hall of Fame, Oklahoma Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame and National High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Havens grew up in Stillwater, Okla. and attended high school in Lewisville, Texas. Havens’ wife Angie is an occupational therapist, who also played at St. Gregory’s and Northeastern State. The couple has three sons: Trey, Trent, and Ty, and one daughter, Tatum.

Coaching Career:

  • East Central University 2013-2017
  • Drury University 2005-2013
  • University of Tulsa 2001-2005
  • Northeastern State University 1999-2001
  • St. Gregory’s 1998-1999