Beyond Hoops: Marvin Singleton helps lead UNI's historic season - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Beyond Hoops: Marvin Singleton helps lead UNI's historic season

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Marvin Singleton mentors a third-grader at Lincoln Elementary. Marvin Singleton mentors a third-grader at Lincoln Elementary.
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CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) - A magical and historic season is unfolding for the UNI Panther men's basketball team.

The Panthers are 24 and 2 overall, and riding a 13-game winning streak. They are on top of the Missouri Valley Conference and ranked 11th in the nation in both the A-P and Coaches polls.

For the Panthers, it's the highest ranking in UNI basketball history.

It's a team of talented, focused, and dedicated players and coaches. Ten Panthers commonly see playing time in every game. That means an abundance of unselfishness is on display every time the Panthers take the floor.

While every player hopes to get as many playing minutes as possible, every player is also willing to do whatever the coaching staff asks. It's all about what's best for the team.Panther players also spend time out in the community whenever possible.

KWWL recently followed senior forward Marvin Singleton as he made his weekly trip to Lincoln Elementary School in Cedar Falls.

At Lincoln, the 6-6, 237-pound senior forward from Minneapolis mentors third-grader Jaone Arterberry.

Singleton and Jaone talk about how Jaone's week is going, and how he did the previous week. They set goals, and Marvin emphasizes the importance of completing assignments on time and treating other students with respect.

“I feel happy that he has time to come and meet with me every Thursday," Jaone said.

When asked what it's like to have Singleton as his personal mentor, Jaone gives the thumbs up.

“It's another way for me to give back to the community and push him towards his dreams and goals, to make sure to keep pushing him and keeping him on the straight and narrow," Singleton said.

Singleton and the Panthers reach out to the community in other ways, too.

Recently, they all took time after practice to stop by the Other Place on University Avenue to help raise money for the Boys and Girls Club of the Cedar Valley.

The night was called "Tip A Panther." The players posed for photographs with fans and mingled with supporters of the Boys and Girls Club.

The soft-spoken, big-hearted Singleton also has his own unique project.

A few months ago, as part of a UNI marketing class project, Singleton decided to start writing a community-focused blog: MarvinSingleton.blogspot.com

He periodically writes about community issues like the Cedar Valley United Way in a blog he called, "Helping the Community Rebound." Singleton sees a connection between being part of a team and how a community needs its own team of leaders and supporters to accomplish what's best for the most people.

"Not everybody goes out and spends their time, and puts their time and effort into making a difference in somebody else's life," said UNI Head Coach Ben Jacobson. "How can you be more proud in having one of your guys do that?"

Jacobson noted that Singleton had paid the price over the past four years. Marvin road the bench his freshman and sophomore years, played sparingly as a junior, but then as a senior worked hard enough to earn a spot in the starting lineup.

"I'm really happy for Marvin with the way things have progressed for him and his family," Jacobson said. "He's having a tremendous impact on our program on game night.

"The thing that strikes you when that happens with a young guy is the persistence, determination and him wanting to be part of something you know is bigger than yourself," Jacobson added.

"Every day is special," Singleton said. "It's not just about the game. Everything is special about this team, no matter if it's on or off the court. It's a great feeling, and this is my last year, so we are just taking it one day at a time, making the best of it as much as I can."

Singleton's roommate, senior guard Deon Mitchell, said people often misread Singleton as being angry.

"He doesn't really say much, so that's what people think," Mitchell said. "He never shows any emotion or expression on his face. So you always think he's angry, because he always has that sort of look to his face. But once you get to know him, you'll understand that he's a nice guy."

In addition to Singleton's blog, you can also follow him on Twitter at @Marvymarv_12.

Singleton and the Panthers head to Chicago Wednesday night to face Loyola, then back home Saturday, Feb. 21, at 3 p.m. to face the Bradley Braves.

The Panthers aren't taking anyone lightly. They still have to play at Wichita State in the final conference game of the season. Unless there are major upsets, that game will decide the Missouri Valley Conference regular season champion.

Next, it will be Arch Madness, the conference tournament in St. Louis, and then on to the NCAA Tournament.

The Panthers know there's a lot of basketball yet to be played, and they plan to stay focused on every opponent in this season already full of lifetime memories.
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