EMCC basketball teams to tip off 2022-23 with Tuesday home hoops twin bill vs. Shelton State

Published 1:38 pm Monday, October 31, 2022

SCOOBA – East Mississippi Community College’s 2022-23 basketball season is slated to tip off Tuesday (Nov. 1) evening on the Scooba campus with doubleheader action against Shelton State Community College from Tuscaloosa. Twin-bill hoops action is set to begin with a 5:30 p.m. women’s game followed by a 7:30 p.m. men’s contest at EMCC’s Keyes T. Currie Coliseum.

Tuesday’s EMCC women’s season opener will feature the head coaching debut of former Coahoma Community College assistant women’s coach Isaiah Butler, who has succeeded retired coaching veteran and current EMCC Director of Athletics & Dean of Students/Scooba Campus Sharon Thompson on the sidelines.

The Lady Bucs of Shelton State begin the 2022-23 basketball season ranked second nationally in the NJCAA Division I women’s basketball poll.

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Guided by eighth-year head men’s basketball coach Billy Begley, the EMCC Lions enter the new season as reigning MACCC Tournament champions after rising to as high as No. 7 in last year’s NJCAA Division I rankings. Last year’s conference tourney title was their second in the past four seasons.

Following Tuesday’s season openers against Shelton State in Scooba, both EMCC basketball teams are scheduled to spend most of the remaining month of November playing away from home.

The EMCC men will play three games in as many days (Oakland, Lincoln Trail & Miami Dade) this weekend (Nov. 4-6) at the Griffin Sports Elite Classic in Erlanger, Kentucky, before taking on MACCC foes Northwest Mississippi (Nov. 14) and Meridian (Nov. 17) both on the road in non-conference matchups. The Lions will return home to play host to the Piney Woods School on Nov. 28.

EMCC’s Lady Lions will stay at home to play host to MACCC opponent Coahoma on Nov. 10 in non-conference action, prior to finishing out the month on the road first at East Central (Nov. 17) and then at the Bulldog Thanksgiving Classic, Nov. 21-22, against host Mississippi Gulf Coast and fellow conference foe Northeast Mississippi.





First-year EMCC head women’s basketball coach Isaiah Butler’s initial Lady Lions team will consist of five returning players and nine newcomers, led by returning starting point guard DJ Williams. The Columbus product averaged 7.1 points, 4.6 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game in starting all 25 games as a freshman for the Lady Lions.

Second-year freshman guard Kennedi Jimison, out of Northeast Lauderdale High School, will be looked upon to contribute immediately upon returning from a medical redshirt season due to an injury a year ago.

Guard Jada Odneal (Starkville) along with forwards Sukkima Suell (Starkville) and Zaniyah Brown (Velma Jackson HS) are also back and figure to provide needed experience and leadership to a youthful squad.

Perhaps slightly ahead of the other newcomers because of their prior MACCC playing experience are transfer guards Sadie Williams and Gabby Collier. Originally a ULM signee out of East Ascension High School in Louisiana, Williams averaged 4.5 points and 3.8 rebounds an outing as an 11-game starter last season at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. A product of Brandon High School and the younger sister of EMCC assistant men’s basketball coach DJ Evans, Collier averaged 4.5 points and had 24 made three-pointers in 21 appearances a year ago at Pearl River Community College.

The youth of this year’s EMCC women’s team is demonstrated by the fact that half of the players on the 14-player squad are true freshmen. Butler and his assistant coach Zariah Matthews, who played at Mississippi College, look to have assembled a freshman class with plenty of potential and diversity up and down the 2022-23 roster.

According to Butler, athletic guard Ramya King, out of Memphis’ White Station High School, has displayed impressive quickness and continues to develop into a good ball handler. The EMCC staff has also taken note of the length and speed of Nakeria Scales (Starkville), Hannah McDougle (Newton County HS) and Kylah Bell (Pass Christian), while also having acknowledged Brianna Jordan (Holmes County Central HS), Shanayshia Culpepper (East Webster HS) and Kellie Strong (Murrah HS) as strong post players with aggression and toughness.






Eighth-year head men’s basketball coach Billy Begley’s EMCC Lions enter the new campaign as one of the MACCC’s front-runners on the heels of capturing the program’s second conference tournament championship in the past four years a season ago.

The EMCC men enter the 2022-23 campaign owning impressive four-year composite records of 67-30 (.691) overall and 38-13 (.745) in conference/division play dating back to the 2018-19 season,

Despite returning only three players from last season’s 21-7 club, this year’s preseason optimism centers around the return of third-year standout guard Blake Butler, who earned All-Region 23 honors for the 2022 MACCC Tournament champions. The Louisville, Kentucky product is a prime candidate for the MACCC’s Player of the Year honor after averaging 14.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game last season.

Also returning from last year’s conference tourney championship team and looking to provide some leadership and experience are fellow third-year guard Kevin Henry (Center Hill HS) and forward Jacob Reese (Starkville).

Expected to help fill the void left by the collective departures of 2021-22 NJCAA Honorable Mention All-American Jakorie Smith (Tarleton State signee) as well as veteran guards Danny Washington (Mississippi Valley State signee) and Traemond Pittman, are highly touted incoming Kentucky natives DJ Avery and Andrew Mason. Avery averaged nearly 10 points and six rebounds last season at South Plains College in Texas, while Mason was the 2021-22 5th Region Player of the Year in being selected to the Kentucky-Ohio All-Star Game.

Adding to the mix of newcomers this season will be eight freshmen from the Mississippi prep ranks, including a handful of in-state prospects who figure to contribute immediately within the Lions’ primary rotation. Tremaine Dixon Jr. (Raymond) looks to run the point guard position, while Ashten Michael (Clinton) and Terrell Dixon (Brandon HS) will primarily operate on the perimeter. EMCC has also added forwards Christian Noel (Raymond HS) and Parker Henry (West Lauderdale HS) to provide needed interior stability.

Other new faces for the Lions this season will be Jorden Edwards (New Hope HS), La’Derrius Love (Gentry HS) and Cadre Hampton (Kemper County HS).