Three EMCC basketball standouts garner All-MACCC recognition

Published 1:51 pm Tuesday, March 8, 2022

JACKSON — A trio of East Mississippi Community College players earned recognition on the 2021-22 All-MACCC basketball teams, as voted on by conference head coaches and announced Tuesday by the Mississippi Association of Community Colleges Conference office.

From EMCC’s 2022 MACCC Tournament championship men’s basketball team, sophomore Jakorie Smith claimed first-team, all-conference honors for the third straight year, while second-year recipient Blake Butler improved from second-team mention a year ago to this year’s first-team status. For EMCC’s Lady Lions, sophomore Siarra Jackson collected second-team women’s honors.

Having taken advantage of the NJCAA’s COVID-19 ruling that granted student-athletes an extra year of collegiate eligibility due to the coronavirus pandemic, Smith returned to EMCC for his third season and made the most of his opportunity. The Utica native averaged a team-leading and career-high 17.7 points per game this past season and also led the Lions with an average of 7.9 rebounds per contest to rank sixth and 10th, respectively, in the MACCC. In shooting 46 percent overall from the field along with posting career-best shooting percentages from three-point range (37%) and the charity stripe (85%), Smith helped lead the 21-7 Lions to their second conference tournament championship in four years and a berth in the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament quarterfinals. The 6-foot-6 forward capped his productive three-year EMCC career by pouring in a career-high 36 points (12-24 FGs, 5-8 treys & 7-7 FTs) during the Lions’ 76-73 overtime home loss to LSU Eunice in regional tournament action a week ago (March 1).

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Smith tied Hinds’ Jalen Myers for the most total voting points (25) among the MACCC’s head men’s basketball coaches for all-conference recognition, though Myers earned MACCC Men’s Basketball MVP honors as a result of his four first-place votes earned.

As a three-year starter in helping lead head coach Billy Begley’s EMCC Lions to a composite overall record of 48-22 (.686) and conference mark of 28-11 (.718), Smith scored 1,075 career points (15.8 ppg) along with totaling 548 rebounds (8.1 rpg), 97 assists, 96 steals and 39 blocked shots. His career shooting percentages were 47.4 percent overall from the field, 34.8 percent from beyond the three-point arc and 79.7 percent from the free throw line. Smith also recorded 21 career double-doubles during his 68-game EMCC playing career.

Coming out of Raymond High School in 2019 as a member of three Class 4A state championship teams, Smith averaged 15.2 points and a career-high 8.4 rebounds per contest as an EMCC freshman. He then averaged 13.3 points and 7.7 rebounds an outing during the pandemic-altered 2020-21 season to repeat as a first-team member of the conference’s All-North Division squad.

Also a repeat all-conference honoree for the Lions, Butler moved up to first-team status in 2021-22 after posting improved per-game averages of 14.5 points and 4.9 rebounds this past season. In addition to also ranking as the Lions’ second-best playmaker with an average of 2.7 assists per contest, the Louisville, Ky., native shot 43 percent overall from the field, including 37 percent from three-point range, and 77 percent from the charity stripe.

Butler’s high point of EMCC’s successful season came two weeks ago when the 6-foot-5 guard collected MACCC Men’s Basketball Player of the Week accolades after averaging a team-leading 17.7 points as well as 8.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.3 blocks and 1.0 steals during the Lions’ successful three-day run through the 2022 MACCC Tournament played in Poplarville. He also connected on 56 percent (19-34 FGs) of his field goal attempts for the week, including 10-of-18 accuracy (56%) from beyond the three-point arc.

With previous per-game averages of 12.1 points and 4.4 rebounds during the 2020-21 season as a freshman, Butler has averaged 13.6 points, 4.7 boards and 2.6 assists an outing during his two EMCC seasons. Having started 39 of his 45 games with the Lions, he has totaled 610 career points as well as 212 rebounds, 118 assists, 37 blocks and 35 steals. Butler also owns career shooting percentages of 43 percent overall from the field, 35 percent from three-point territory and 74 percent from the free throw line.

For head women’s basketball coach Sharon Thompson’s 12-13 EMCC Lady Lions, Jackson was the team’s leading scorer (12.0 ppg) and second-leading rebounder (6.4 rpg) this past season, including elevated per-game averages of 13.3 points and 6.9 rebounds during regular-season conference play. On the year as a 22-game starter at forward, the Ripley native also shot 51 percent from the field and 76 percent from the line.

Jackson particularly came on strong during the latter part of the 2021-22 season, averaging 16.0 points and 9.8 rebounds over the year’s last eight games. All four of her career double-doubles were recorded during the season-ending, eight-game span, including a career-best performance of 31 points and 15 rebounds during EMCC’s 71-68 home win over Meridian on Feb. 14.

With season averages of 7.1 points and 3.4 rebounds per game as a freshman in 2020-21, Jackson has scored 421 points (10.0 ppg) and grabbed 217 rebounds (5.2 rpg) during her two-year EMCC career. She also owns career shooting percentages of 50 percent from the field and 74 percent from the line.