SCOOBA – East Mississippi Community College's 2017-18 basketball season is set to tip off Thursday night with a home doubleheader against Tennessee Prep Academy. A 5:30 p.m. women's game will be followed by a 7:30 p.m. men's contest at Keyes T. Currie Coliseum on the Scooba campus.
Guided by third-year head coach Billy Begley boasts a deep, competitive roster consisting of a handful of experienced players and plenty of incoming talent. Guard Keith Harris is back after ranking as EMCC's second-leading scorer (11.8 ppg) a year ago, while forward Carlos Thomas returns after averaging 6.6 points and 6.0 rebounds per game as an 18-game freshman starter for the Lions. Also back in the fold are athletic post player Ill'yan Scott (7.4 ppg & 5.1 rpg), Jaquan Hines and Jordon Lee.
Providing a big boost this season after sitting out last year with a wrist injury will be two-time all-state guard Cam Horton from Jacksonville, Ala. The explosive point guard averaged 23.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.2 steals per game as a prep senior in 2015-16.
Also expected to make an immediate impact for the Lions this year is shooting guard Terryonte Thomas out of New Hope High School. The former Dandy Dozen performer averaged nearly 20 points an outing as an all-state senior.
Continuing Starkville High School's pipeline to the Scooba campus, forwards Darrious Agnew and Markedric Bell look to also be major contributors for the Lions as collegiate rookies, as do freshman guards Dewayne Cox (Ripley) and Robert Davis Jr. (Clinton). Backcourt depth should be provided by newcomers Noel Jones (Pascagoula) and Jerrian Young (Hartfield Academy).
With seven players listed at 6-foot-6 or taller, the Lions have the luxury of going big or small with their lineup this season. Creighton transfer Sam Dunkum, a 7-footer from North Little Rock, Ark., and 6-foot-8 forward Malik Harper, out of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., offer valuable height and versatility to the mix.
On the women's side, 13th-year head coach Sharon Thompson, the EMCC women return the starting backcourt tandem of Tyeisha Juhan and Kaisah Lucky from last season's 12-10 squad that made the MACJC state tournament for the second straight year. Juhan, from Jonesboro, Ga., earned MACJC All-State honors as a freshman after ranking ninth nationally with a Region 23-leading 20.2 points per game along with averaging 6.7 rebounds an outing. Lucky, out of Brooklyn, N.Y., also started all 22 games a year ago for the Lady Lions in averaging 5.4 points, 5.0 assists and 4.6 rebounds per contest.
Though Juhan and Lucky are the team's lone returners, the Lady Lions have brought on board two players with prior MACJC playing experience. Columbus' Kayla Rogers averaged 14.8 points and 5.1 rebounds at Coahoma Community College last season, while Northwest Rankin High School product Jordanna Morris averaged 7.3 points and 3.1 rebounds a year ago at Mississippi Gulf Coast CC.
In addition, Texas native Cydnee Hill is another sophomore transfer forward who joins EMCC after spending last season at Southern University-Shreveport.
Along with two returning starters and three junior college transfers, the Lady Lions also welcome seven freshman newcomers from the Mississippi prep ranks. West Jones High School product Brianna Page is joined by fellow forward Kyla Temple (Columbus) along with the rookie backcourt quintet comprised of Akebia Cooley (Heidelberg), Emily Evans (Southaven), Briona Green (Columbus), Le'Treceia Grayson (George County HS) and Allena Griffin (Cleveland).
Following their season openers against Tennessee Prep Academy, the EMCC basketball teams will meet Meridian Community College on the road Monday (Nov. 6) before returning home to welcome fellow nearby rival East Central Community College for a Thursday (Nov. 9) hoops twinbill on the Scooba campus. Both doubleheaders will feature 5:30 p.m. women's games followed by 7:30 p.m. men's contests.