Combs excels on and off court

(This is an updated version of the story that appeared in the Dec. 16 edition of The People’s Defender.)

It seems like just yesterday that Travis Combs was hitting the most famous three-pointer in Manchester basketball history, one that put the Greyhounds on the verge of making it to the Final Four in the state of Ohio in that infamous battle in “The Barn” with Harvest Prep. Combs’ basketball career didn’t end after his days in the Greyhound blue and gold as he moved on to Mount St. Joseph University where he is now in his senior season with the Lions.

As of press time, Combs and the Lions were 3-4 on the 2015-16 season, 2-1 in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference, a conference where they were chosen as pre-season favorites after winning it last season. Combs has started all seven games this season, averaging 29.1 minutes. The senior guard is shooting 67.6% from the field and 88.2% from the free throw line, scoring 10.4 points per game, the highest mark of his career.

“I would describe my career at the Mount as progressive,” said Combs. “Leaving Manchester where we were coming off three consecutive district championships and continuing to the next level at the Mount where they were in a rebuilding stage was a new beginning. My freshman year we were picked to finish at the bottom of the conference and ended up with a 9-17 record, good enough to make the conference tournament as the sixth seed.”

“My sophomore year we were determined to build on that and we finished with a 17-9 record. Last year as a junior, our team took the next step and finished the season as conference champions for the first time in Mount history with a 19-7 record, which also set the record for most wins in a single season. The highlight of my first three years would definitely be being a part of the first-ever men’s basketball team to win a conference championship. Every year at the Mount thus far in my career has been an improvement as a team and as an individual player and I’m determined to continue that trend in my final season here.”

Lions head coach Toby Carrigan appreciates the hard work and dedication of Combs to his program and to academics at the Mount.

“Travis was a member of our first recruiting class here at the Mount,” said Carrigan. “We were in the process of building a program that had student-athletes that were not only very good basketball players but also very good students. No one fits that description better than Travis Combs. He currently holds a cumulative GPA of 3.8 and just recently earned a 4.0 in the last semester. If you were building a program to be successful, I can’t think of a better person to start with than Travis.”

“He not only leads by example on the court in practice and games but also in the classroom. Travis has always done everything we’ve asked him to do. He had to fight through some adversity and injuries to be where he is today and I have a great deal of respect for what he has and will continue to accomplish.”

The thought that this will be his final season at the Mount is not lost on Combs and as it is with most seniors, especially athletes, it is an emotional thought.

“The saying that all good things must come to an end comes to mind,” said the Mount senior. “When I think about it being my senior season here at the Mount I would be lying if I said that it wasn’t constantly replaying in my head. The emotions that I’m feeling at this point in my career are far from sadness, not that there won’t be a time for those emotions to consume my thoughts, but the time will come when the buzzer goes off for the last time.”

“Until that moment I have nothing but positive thoughts, urgency, and enthusiasm for my senior season. Expectations have been set high this season for our team but that doesn’t mean that we need to change the way we do things. My sights are set on a repeat conference championship and a trip to the NCAA tournament when March rolls around. I expect nothing less and believe that this will be a special season.”

Like all seniors at the high school or college level, Combs has begun to think about his plans for the future and not surprisingly, the hardwood is still part of those plans.

“After I graduate in May, I plan to finish a Master’s Degree in Business Administration that I was able to start this year in the 4 + 1 MBA program they have here at the Mount,” Combs told The Defender. “While finishing up next year, I want to stay involved with the men’s basketball team here at the Mount. My youngest brother (Jamie) plays basketball at Manchester and I plan to volunteer as much as possible to help him as an individual and their team continue to develop as a program.”

“As far as employment goes, I have a few internships that I will be looking into this summer and I plan on working part-time throughout the 2017 school year while I finish my MBA.”

For local fans who might want to catch Combs in action at the Mount in his final season, the Lions have home games at the Harrington Center scheduled for Jan. 9, Jan. 13, Jan. 23, Jan. 27, Feb. 6, Feb. 10, and Feb. 20.
Manchester grad in senior year at MSJ

By Mark Carpenter

Reach Mark Carpenter at 937-544-2391 or on Twitter @adamscosports.