Basketball Bobcats expect to continue up-tempo style

Written By: Shawn Wansley
Email Address: shawn.wansley@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2010-10-29 10:37:43

 By Shawn Wansley

JCJC Sports Information Director

ELLISVILLE – Don “Bubba” Skelton has employed a fast-paced style of play during his first two years at Jones County Junior College.

And with the success the basketball Bobcats have enjoyed, do not look for much to change as Skelton enters his third year as head coach.

“We are going to play our style as long as we can,” he said. “We want to use different presses and put pressure on the ball. We are hoping to use our defense to help us score. Hopefully, we can turn the other teams over and generate some offense off of that.

“We will probably play between 10 and 12 players a game and with our style, especially early in the year, you need to be able to do that.”

Last season, JCJC posted a 17-10 mark and advanced to the semifinals of the MACJC Tournament and to the Region 23 Tournament. Two years ago, the Bobcats posted a 24-5 record and captured the state championship.

“The first year we got over the hump and last year we were close and right there at it,” Skelton said. “We were one game short in our division and we just came up short at the state tournament. Hopefully, we can get back there this year. That’s what we are shooting for.”

The Bobcats lost several key players from last year’s team.

Third-team All-American forward Brandon Wilson signed with Grambling State University, guard Kendrick McDonald inked with Alcorn State University and point guard Nic Combs transferred to Troy State University after his freshman season. Forward Todd McDonald is now at Mississippi College and forward Tyrone Brinson plays for Martin Methodist College in Tennessee.

Once again, the Bobcats will not be a big team, but will rely on quickness and depth to be successful.

Returning sophomores include forwards Andrew Marshall from Pascagoula and Tiaj Kelly from Richton, along with wing players Kadeem Fleming of Port Gibson, Torrey Brown of Northwest Rankin, Rico Rankins of Wayne County and Glen Collins of Jackson Provine.

JCJC will also have three sophomore transfers who will play major roles on the team – forward Albert Peterson from Coffeyville Community College (Kan.), forward Brandon Givens from College of Southern Idaho and point guard Derrious Gilmore from Pensacola Junior College (Fla.).

Demetrious Lee is a redshirt freshman point guard from Pass Christian, while incoming true freshmen will be wing players Kelvin Nixon from Heidelberg, Kenyada Wallace from Brandon, Marcus Bolton from Stringer and Todd Gamble from New Albany.

Skelton has been pleased with the way the team has performed in preseason workouts.

“Things are going pretty good,” he said. “The guys are working hard. We have a lot of competition and obviously, we’ve got a good mixture of returnees and newcomers.

“We have three new out-of-staters and how they blend with our returnees will also be critical.”

JCJC will rotate four players at the ‘4’ and ’5’ positions or power forward and center slots.

Marshall (6-5, 200), Kelly (6-5, 185), Peterson (6-6, 190) and Givens (6-6, 205) will all see considerable action. Peterson is from O.P. Walker High School in New Orleans, while Givens is from Ruffin, S.C., and prepped at Princeton Day Academy.

“Andrew has probably been our hardest working player in preseason,” said Skelton. “He is willing to give himself up to make everybody else better and is a hustling kid. Tiaj will improve greatly this year. He is right there with Andrew as far as being the two hardest working guys on the team on a consistent basis.”

Last season, Kelly averaged 4.5 points and 2.6 rebounds per game, while Marshall averaged 3.3 points and 3 rebounds per game.

“Albert and Brandon are both transfers, so they both have some experience,” Skelton said. “We were looking for that in recruiting because of the position we were in with graduation. They should be able to play and help us starting with the first game.

“Brandon is athletic. He can also step out and shoot the 3. He should be an impact player in this league. Albert played in a good program at Coffeyville in Kansas. He is a ‘step out’ 4 player for us. He can score and he handles the ball really well for his size.

“Overall, those guys are not huge size-wise, but they are a pretty athletic group that can use quickness and athleticism to get things done with our style of play.”

Where JCJC will have the most depth will be at the ‘wing’ or 2-3 positions. The Bobcats have eight players vying for playing time at those two slots.

Fleming (6-4, 180), Brown (6-4, 185), Rankins (6-3, 175) and Collins (6-1, 175) have experience, while Nixon (6-2, 185), Wallace (6-4, 175), Bolton (6-1, 165) and Gamble (6-3, 185) are the newcomers.

Fleming is the leading returning scorer, having averaged 10.8 points per game last year.

“Kadeem started a lot of games, has a lot of experience and is one of our best perimeter shooters,” said Skelton. “He gives us a threat from the 3-point line, but he has improved his dribble game in the offseason. Torrey came on late last year and did a good job for us. He is our best wing defender.

“Rico, like Torrey, got better as the year went along. He can shoot the 3. Glen is one of our better outside shooters at the 2-guard.”

Skelton is quite pleased with freshmen wing players.

“Kelvin is one our most athletic players,” he said. “In our style of play, we think he is one of our best players to get to the rim and play in the open court. Kenyada is a long wing player with a good mid-range game.

“Marcus is a very good, athletic defender. Todd is a walk-on and is another guy we feel like can shoot the ball well from outside.”

The Bobcats will have two solid players at the ‘1’ or point guard positions. Gilmore (5-9, 185) played at Lake Clifton High School in Baltimore and Lee (5-8, 160) has been in the JCJC system for one year.

“Derrious is from Baltimore and played in a good public school league up there,” said Skelton. “He went to Pensacola last year and has transferred in here. Right off the bat, he gives us a presence at the point guard position. We really needed someone with experience with Nic leaving. Derrious can do a little of everything. He can make his teammates better and he can also score when he needs to.

“Demetrious redshirted last year, so even though he is a freshman, he has been practicing with us for a year. He knows our system and is a very hard-nosed player.”

In the South Division, Skelton points to defending state champion Pearl River as being strong. The Wildcats are ranked No. 25 in the NJCAA preseason poll.

 “I know Pearl River will be good,” he said. “They return a lot of players off of a state championship team. Gulf Coast looks to be as talented, if not the most talented team in the South. I feel like the others will be improved. I will be really surprised if Co-Lin is not much improved. They have one of the better players in the league in Marcus Hooten.

“In the North, East Mississippi will be strong again, from what everybody is saying. They’ve got some returning guys and their recruiting class is supposed to be solid.”

In fact, the Lions – the defending Region 23 champions and ranked No. 29 in the preseason – will be JCJC’s opening opponent. JCJC hosts EMCC at 7:30 p.m. on Monday in A.B. Howard Gymnasium.

“We will get tested right off the bat,” Skelton said. “You always wonder about that first game and when you play them, it’s going to be a challenge. But our guys – especially the newcomers – will have a chance to see where they are and see what the league is about.”

Skelton is optimistic about his team. But he knows it will take a commitment from the entire squad to be successful.

“Our players need to buy in to what we want do,” he said. “That includes the whole team. They have to buy in to our style and how much effort they are going to have to give, especially on the defensive end for us to generate baskets.

“We are not going to overpower people. We have had it pretty good in practice so far, but will everybody buy in and sacrifice to make the team better?”

Skelton will be assisted by Cornelius Gilleylen. Gilleylen comes to JCJC from East Central Community College and replaces Casey Carter, who is now the women’s head coach at Southwest Mississippi Community College.

All JCJC home division games will be televised on www.jcjc.tv, while all division games and other selected games will be broadcast (audio only). Lance Pittman and Mark Easley will provide the call on the games.

In addition, the “JCJC Basketball Media Day Special” will be posted shortly on the www.jcjc.tv website.

 

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