AUBURN — Luis Medina went from a UPS employee to top delivery man in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association.

This weekend, Medina hopes to deliver a national championship for Central Maine Community College, which on Thursday enters the USCAA DII National Championships as the top seed.

On a team that regularly rotates 14 players onto the court, the Hartford, Ct. native still stood out enough to be named the Yankee Small College Conference player of the year and a USCAA All-American.

As the point guard Medina carries out coach Dave Gonyea’s plan to turn every game into a 40-minute, full-court war of attrition.

“He’s really the quarterback,” Gonyea said. “The neat thing about Luis is he really makes players around him better. He’s really the veteran, calming influence.”

Despite playing 23.8 minutes per game, the 6-foot-2 Medina leads the nation in assists (10.1 apg) by more than three per game over his closest pursuer.

Those numbers don’t exactly go hand-in-hand, but Medina knows having fresh teammates and fresh legs of his own are keys to the Mustangs (30-2) overwhelming their opponents physically and on the scoreboard with a USCAA-leading 98.8 points per game.

“We try to run as much as possible,” he said. “The best part is seeing the other team tired in the second half and standing at the free throw line, holding their shorts and gasping for air.”

Medina admitted it took some time for him to adjust to the Mustangs’ style, too. But he’s grateful to have another chance to play college basketball in a state he’s come to consider a second home.

He played at Husson University two first semesters in a row but couldn’t meet the academic requirements. He sat out a year and worked at UPS, then heard about CMCC through Wes Sexton, a CMCC alum with ties to Husson.

“My mother was really pushing me to finish school,” Medina said. “I was working a 9-to-5 and I wasn’t really liking it.”

He contacted Gonyea in mid-July and set up a campus visit, as the coach requires of all of his recruits.

“He sold me on the program on the first visit,” Medina said.

The idea of returning to Maine also appealed to Medina, who prior to Husson had spent three years at Lee Academy. He liked the quiet, slower pace away from the city, and still felt a special kinship with the state’s basketball fans.

“People laugh when I tell them Maine loves their basketball,” he said. “Every time I came to Maine, I loved it, from playing in the (Bangor) Auditorium to playing at Husson to now, playing at CM. Everywhere I’ve been at has just been nothing but love.”

That’s the atmosphere around the team, too, Medina said. Even though it means some talented players aren’t getting the playing time they would get in another uniform, winning trumps any selfish urges to ask Gonyea for more, he admitted.

Gonyea credited Medina with finding other ways to foster that team chemistry.

“I’ve never been on a team where everyone gets along like this,” Medina said. “We have a little slang saying that everybody says — ‘That thang.’ It’s just something that came out one day. ‘Shoot that thang.'”

That’s a phrase Gonyea has felt like throwing back at Medina more than once this season, even though he still has the excellent mid-range game that he developed at Lee and is second on the team in scoring (11.7 ppg).

“I have to get after him to shoot it,” Gonyea said. “Part of my pregame to is ‘Luis, I love what you do, setting the guys up. But if you’ve got an open shot, take it.'”

“I feel like an assist is a bucket for me,” Medina said. “Sometimes I get more excited off an assist than my own bucket. I know that I can shoot the ball whenever I wanted to, but I’d rather see my teammates succeed before I do.”

Medina still wants to succeed on his own. He is studying business administration/sports management, with hopes of perhaps running a YMCA and coaching basketball in the future.

Medina thinks he and his fellow Mustangs still have one more delivery to make.

“Don’t be surprised if CM comes back national champs,” Medina said.

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