College Basketball: Centralia Alum Bailey Set to Resume Basketball Career at Lewis-Clark State College
FRESH START: Former Tiger Transferred to Lewiston After 1.5 Years at The Master’s University
By Matt Baide
Hodges Bailey was used to having the ball in his hands all the time while donning the orange and black Tiger uniform.
The Centralia alum hopes that he can play a similar role at Lewis-Clark State College next season, transferring after more than a year of playing for The Master’s University.
“That was a little bit of coaching stuff involved. I also got hurt a little bit through the year. I tried playing on it, playing on it and it kept getting worse and so pretty much had a talk with the coach and there was not a mutual vision for what I wanted and for what he wanted for me,” Bailey said. “So my goal was to be an All-American and to have a really successful team and our vision wasn’t the same so I felt it was the best thing for me to do to find a place that could achieve those things as well as having a successful team. I think personal as well as team goals were big to me and I didn’t feel like I was in a place that could accomplish those goals pretty much.”
In high school, Bailey was the star athlete of the Tigers in his senior season. He averaged 26.4 points per game and set the single game scoring record in a District 4 2A tournament game with 42 points against Mark Morris. He broke the four game tournament scoring record in three games and scored 1,290 points in 55 games in Centralia and was named The Chronicle’s 2017 All-Area Boys Basketball MVP.
All that success in his senior year led him to The Master’s University in Santa Clarita, Calif.
“It was my best basketball offer out of high school so that was the main driver,” Bailey said. “Just trying to go to the best school that wanted me to play for them, that was the main thing for me.”
He originally signed with The Master’s University to play both basketball and baseball, but quickly learned that was much more difficult in college and decided to just focus on basketball.
“I was going to play both but that changed pretty quick. I kind of thought it would be similar to high school where you can just flip over. As soon as the season’s over, you kind of hop on the team. It’s college though so it’s so much different,” Bailey said. “I mean the baseball team starts practice pretty much the first day of school in August and it just wasn’t going to work. It was nice to be able to focus on something. It’s always tough to balance, especially in the summer whether you’re supposed to play in a baseball game or basketball game and you’ve got the same one on the same day. I think that it’s nice just to be able to focus, you evolve your game that much more.”
His role on the court changed from high school. Asked to do a lot in high school, Bailey said his main role was to defend and knock down open shots at The Master’s. He noted that the team was stacked his freshman year with several Division I bounce back prospects as well as some guys who went on to play professional basketball following their time at The Master’s University.
In his freshman season, Bailey played in all 32 games off the bench, averaging 5.8 points and 1.6 rebounds while shooting 44 percent from the field and 42 percent from behind the arc.
“I thought it went pretty good. We had a really good year, we were like the No. 1 team in the country for a while. We ultimately had a pretty underwhelming end of the season, we lost in the first round of the national tournament but we had a really good year,” Bailey said. “Obviously, personally, you always want more, you always want to play more, you always want to score more. I think that that was definitely an adjustment going from playing every second in high school to being more of a role player and just trying to be really good at what I was supposed to do. I think that I was excited but also excited for what was to come if that makes sense. Freshman year left me wanting more, like OK, I want to grow into a bigger role. I want to play more. I want to do these things, it’s a really good motivator to try and diversify my game more so that I could grow into that.”
The Mustangs were 29-3 in Bailey’s freshman campaign and 13-1 in Golden State Athletic Conference games, capturing the conference championship with an 88-73 win over Westmont.
The season ended much earlier than the Mustangs expected, entering the tournament as the No. 1 seed in the Naismith Bracket. Peru State out of Nebraska was able to pull off the upset in the first round with a 106-104 win in overtime.
“I think that, The Master’s is definitely a very unique situation because we had so many guys that were really good. We had by far the most talented team in the country, and I say that because we were at the national tournament and we saw all the top teams there and so there was never really a doubt that we were the most talented. I think it’s really unique because of the roster that we had, and my sophomore year, we were good but we didn’t have the same depth,” Bailey said. “I think that was a really unique year, similar to a Division I level as far as practice wise because we had 10 dudes who were legit. There were some guys that one of them, Lawrence Russell, he went to LCC, actually played in the area. He’s from Port Angeles, he was like a first team All-American, did really well. I think it was an adjustment, but it’s just one of those things that you kind of have to take in stride, it’s either you live or you die.”
Bailey played 10 games for The Master’s University in his sophomore season, averaging 11.4 points and 21.4 minutes per game before deciding to transfer to a school that shared the same vision as he did on the court.
“Actually, the coach (Austin Johnson) that’s there (LC-State) now was the coach that recruited me out of high school. Corban University is a school in Salem, they recruited me out of high school. I ended up not going there at all but I really liked the coach,” Bailey said. “I had a relationship with him before and one of the assistants up there is actually an old coach at The Master’s so I knew those two guys pretty well. What sold me was I had an inside track, I knew what the program was like, I didn’t have to do too much investigating and I knew what I was getting into. There wasn’t any surprises. I think one of the things about Master’s that was tough was I went to the best school for basketball, but it was also so far away, and I didn’t know the universtiy 100 percent. There was a little bit of a gamble that was taken as you would at any university.”
Lewis-Clark State is also an NAIA school with a lot of success in basketball, including recently as the Warriors were 30-7 overall and made it to the Final Four last season. LCS lost to Carroll College out of Montana, 66-55. Georgetown out of Kentucky defeated Carroll in the finals 68-48 to claim the national championship.
Bailey transferred to LCS at semester last year and was on the bench during the Warriors’ run to the Final Four.
“I think that last year, I wasn’t, I wouldn’t say per se on the team, but I was on the bench for all the national tournament games and stuff and we actually lost in the final four. That was the best finish in school history, did really well. It was really exciting to see that and kind of, almost reenergizing to see where the program is headed at LC State,” Bailey said. “I think that I see my role being a big time player for them, being in their system and playing a lot of minutes. I think that that’s the goal. Obviously, you have to earn that and it takes a lot of time and just proving that over and over every day, but I think that’s the goal is to be the guy at LC State, to be their go to guy, similar to what high school was. … I think that that would be my goal ultimately and whatever it takes to have the team be successful I think and get back and ultimately win a national championship, that’s what I want to do.”
Bailey was one of the last players to play for legendary Centralia head basketball coach Ron Brown, and he still uses some of the lessons that Brown taught him.
“I think that he teaches you some lessons that you never forget. Whether it is fundamentals that he’s instilled for players for 50 years or it’s just a little bit of knowledge that he has. Whether it’s like, ‘Hey, if the defenders doing this, it’s a back cut automatic.’ Whatever it is, a lot of it is just basketball and even life skills, just learning how to communicate with coaches,” Bailey said. “He’s very good at teaching players and he’s very good at growing young men. I think that that was the biggest thing is just learning how to grow up and be a young man and ultimately be a husband or a father one day, just be successful at that. I think that was a bigger thing that he taught was off the court as well as on the court. It was pretty awesome just having him and how much history and knowledge he has. He always remembers every single player, you could ask him about any roster that he’s had and he could tell you a small fact or a fun fact about different players. It’s pretty remarkable actually.”
Bailey now lives in Boise, where he moved from originally to come to Centralia. He hasn’t been back in town very often and has yet to attend a Centralia boys basketball game since he graduated. He said he does still keep tabs on the team and with some of his former teammates, including one of his best friends, Jordan Thomas.
This summer, Bailey got married in Kelso to Jamilee Iddings. Jamilee is a Kelso native and the two met at The Master’s University while both playing basketball for the Mustangs.
He has two years of eligibility left and is entering his junior season at Lewis-Clark State. Bailey has high expectations for the upcoming season.
“I think personally, I’d want to be first team All-Conference, be an All-American,” Bailey said. “I think team wise, I mean, if you’re not playing for a national championship, then you’re aiming too low so that would be the goal. For us to get there and win a national championship, bring that home to Lewiston and LC State. I know they’re pretty lofty goals but I think that’s some of the motivation. If you fall short, just keep working at your goals.”