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By: Lucas Calvert
WESSON, Miss. – The Wolves of Copiah-Lincoln Community College are looking for a bounce-back season in 2019-2020 after finishing 11- 12 last year. With six returning sophomores, another transfer sophomore, along with seven talented freshmen, the team is loaded with experience that is itching to take the floor. The Wolves are just two-years removed from one of the best finishes in recent years, a playoff run that ended with a 19-6 overall record in 2017-18, and Co-Lin looks to be back in the hunt this year. To have success the team is going to rely on sophomore leadership, sheer grit on the court, and avoiding the injury bug that plagued the team a year ago.
“We had some unfortunate injuries last year, we were on a roll winning consecutive games when these injuries happened, but our guys still battled late in the year with a depleted team,” said seventh-year head coach Kenny Bizot. “The positive of that situation though is that it allowed some freshmen to get a lot of minutes that are with us today, that experience definitely grew their game in a short period of time.”
Those players include returning forward Cameron Woodall, Lance Madison, and Darius Kent. Players that saw limited action a year ago that are suiting up this year include Dajon Whitworth, Dayquan Perkins, and Je’Kevious Williams.
“Coach Reed and I talk about returning players all the time… when you return a good core group of players at this level it’s invaluable,” said coach Bizot. “They understand the concepts of our offense and we are already way ahead of where we were at any point last season.”
Woodall, a 6’6 forward from Raymond, Miss., is an athletic big man that can be effective both inside and out. The Raymond High School graduate is the leading returning scorer as he averaged 12.9 points and 6.9 rebounds a game as a freshman while shooting 47.5 percent from the floor. His double-digit scoring in 17 contests landed him Second Team All-MACJC honors last season.
“Woodall can be a double-double guy for sure and can average 20 plus points per game,” said Bizot. “He has really developed his midrange game and is just going to have to have a strong mindset and be a leader on the floor.”
Madison is another returning sophomore that saw action in 19 of 23 games last season, including 12 starts. He averaged 5.6 points per game but shot a staggering 57.1 percent from the field. The New Orleans, La. native was pivotal in a late-season win over Hinds with a season-high 13 point, eight-rebound performance.
“Lance is one of the most skilled and fundamental players we have,” said Bizot. “He has improved his range and his handles, he is definitely going to be one of our leaders on the defensive end because he is always in the right place on the floor.”
Whitworth is a quick point guard that enjoys spreading the ball to teammates and finding the open man. The Harrison Central product saw action in nine games as a freshman and dropped a career-high 30 points on the road against Pearl River last season. Whitworth also shot 37.5 percent from three-point range a year ago.
“We are glad to have him back after a car accident last season,” said Bizot. “He is so shifty and explosive and has the ability to shoot the three or a pull-up jumper…he is another guy that is going to have to play big for us this year.”
Perkins is a hardnosed forward that can play above the rim that saw limited action in eight games as a freshman after injuries. He averaged 6.9 points and 6.4 boards in those games while shooting 58.5 percent from the field. The Gulfport native looks to be a force on the floor as a sophomore.
“He has unbelievable heart, and just seems to never stop pushing,” Bizot said. “He is going to be the guy to have to have double-digit rebounds, which will also improve his scoring…he just brings really good passion to our basketball team.”
Williams is an athletic forward that can get it done under the rim. Williams is another player that battled injuries as a freshman and saw action in eight games, but the Raymond High School graduate looks to take advantage of his time on the floor as a sophomore.
“This is a player that has improved his skill set so much,” said Bizot. “We expect really big things from him, he is going to get a lot of minutes, and is going to have to stay out of foul trouble and bring down some rebounds.”
Kent is a returning guard that is very crafty and has the ability to play multiple positions. The product of Ridgeland High School shot a blistering 39.6 percent from three-point range last season and had six games with multiple three-pointers. He saw action in 19 games last year.
“Kent is lighting it up at our practices,” said Bizot. “He is going to have to let the offense come to him, and benefit from our point guards that find him when he is open and be ready to shoot.”
Joining these returners in 2019-2020 is one transfer and seven freshmen that look to make an immediate impact on the floor and help boost the Wolves to a potential playoff run.
Tyree Lomax is a transfer sophomore from Clarendon Community College in Clarendon, Texas. The Baton Rouge, La. native played in all 30 games for the Bulldogs. He is a strong point guard that brings a lot of leadership to the Wolves’ backcourt this season.
TJ Monroe is an athletic wing player that has the ability to score in a variety of ways. As a senior at Columbia High School, he averaged 20.6 points per game and 7.9 rebounds including 10 double-doubles. His impressive play landed him District MVP honors last season.
Jamarkus Wilson is a freshman from Rayville, La. that is a skilled post player, but has the ability to make shots behind the three-point line. He averaged a double-double in high school with 15 points and 10 rebounds and led his team to back-to-back 2A State Championships. He was named to the Louisiana Sports Writers Association Class 2A All-State Team, LHSCA AllStar, and All-NELA Team.
Demarcus Ellzey is a strong guard that has an extremely deep range. The South Pike graduate averaged 23.8 points per game as a senior and was named All-District for his ability to score.
JD Allen, a local freshman from Wesson, is a big-time shooter that can score a lot of points in a hurry. The guard averaged 21 points per game as a senior and scored over 1,000 points in his high school career. He was named to the Daily Leader All-Area Team as a junior and a senior.
Jay Burton is another quick-footed point guard that can get his own shot at any time due to his ball-handling abilities. The Lauderdale native averaged 17.8 points per game at Northeast Lauderdale High School and earned District MVP as a senior.
Shemar Dickerson is another Wesson product that can finish around the rim. Dickerson, high school teammates with Allen, also was a 1,000-point scorer and averaged 12.8 points per game as a senior. He landed All-Area team by the Daily Leader.
Dewey Shannon rounds out the incoming freshmen. Shannon is a long and athletic forward that is developing a great back-to-the-basket game. The Copiah Academy graduate averaged 26 points per game and was named MAIS Player of the Year as a senior.
“These incoming guys are all very talented,” said Bizot. “They can make a big difference to our team, and all have the ability to score the basketball. We are very excited about each one of them and what they bring to the table.”
The freshmen class has several shoes to fill as three former Wolves will be suiting up for four-year schools as juniors this season. Miles Daniels will play for Jackson State University, Xavier Heidelberg will play for Tougaloo College, and Damarius Brooks will play for Mid-American Christian University. These players join seniors Youry White at the University of Louisiana Monroe, Jonathan Floyd and Anthony Jones at William Carey University, and Darrian Wilson at Jackson State as Wolves at the next level.
“We are looking for better chemistry as a team. I think our guys are getting along really well this year,” said Bizot. “We are going to have to execute better this year, utilize some key sets, rebound the basketball, and have a warrior mentality, these will all be big keys to our success this year.”
Overall, the Wolves have the talent to make a splash in the always-tough MACJC South Division this season, with a nice balance of experience from returning players and a spark from incoming freshmen. Combine this with good team communication and toughness on the floor and the Wolves are prone for another breakout season.