Size top priority for JDCC basketball recruiting class
By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
Most college coaches will give their recruiting classes high marks and Jefferson Davis Community College Warhawks basketball coach Allen Gainer is no exception.
Gainer has some big reasons, literally, why he is smiling about the troops he has signed for the 2004-05 season.
"We felt we had to get a lot bigger than what we have been in recent years so we really empasized size when we did our recruiting for next season," Gainer said. "We got a lot bigger, but we got bigger with some players who are big and still run the floor pretty well with an exception or two."
The Warhawks did not have any player taller than 6-5 on their roster last season. JDCC has signed, counting one transfer student, six players who are 6-5 and taller.
The biggest on that list is Donovan McMullen, a 6-10 1/2, 220-pound center from Atlanta.
"Donovan is actually a sophomore from an academic standpoint, but a freshman in terms of athletic eligibility. He signed to play at Atlanta Tech last season, but Tech dropped their program. He is a little thin for his size and his game needs some fine tuning, but he gives us some size we desperately needed. Right now he is strictly a five "center."
The Warhawks have also signed Keith Myers, a 6-5, 250-pound forward/center from Barnado (La.). Myers was a Second Team All-State selection in Louisiana last season.
"Keith is a polished post player. He is a very aggressive player who takes up a lot of space inside. We're hoping he'll be able to contribute some on the offensive end. He can go forward or center," Gainer said.
Another signee for the inside game is Micaiah Anthony, a 6-7, 210-pound forward from Baker (Fla.).
"The offensive part of Micaiah's game needs some polishing, but he jumps well, he rebounds well and is an aggressive player. He is also a pretty good shot blocker," Gainer said.
JDCC's inside game should also get a boost from 6-5, 210-pound Kedric Wilson of Raceland (La.).
"Kedric may be the best of the post players we're bringing in. He is lefthanded and a good scorer. We'll probably use him at a four spot (power forward), but he could go three (small forward) if we need him," Gainer said.
Gainer expects a lot of contributions from Sam Smith, a 6-5, 225-pound player from Americus (Ga.).
"Sam could be the best player I've signed here. He jumps and shoots the ball very well. He has a lot of versatility. He can play anywhere from a two (shooting guard) through a five spot (center). He could even play the point some if we had to have him. The biggest thing we'll need to work with him for next season is his defense," Gainer said.
Richard Ford, a 6-8, 180-pound forward from Birmingham, transferred to JDCC for last season's second semester. Ford spent the first semester at Weatherford Community College in Texas.
"Richard has practiced with us since January so he has a good idea of what we need for him to do. He is a little thin for his size, but he is a phenomenal three-point shooter and he handles the ball well for his size." Gainer said.
While signing size has been an emphasis for JDCC, Gainer has not ignored the guard positions.
The Warhawks have added Corey Webb, a 5-8 point guard from Centerville (La.).
"We normally shy away from players of that size, but Corey has great athleticism. We conducted a series of athletic tests at our tryouts and he had the best score out of 45 players. I don't think his size will be a huge problem because a lot of teams in the Alabama Community College Conference do not have huge point guards. Corey is lefthanded and has great quickness. He needs to work on his shooting," Gainer said.
The Warhawks have also added Jairus Jackson, a 6-0, 180-pound shooting guard from LeFlore High School in Mobile. Jackson was a Class 6A Honorable Mention All-State selection.
"Jairus is a smaller version of Greg Dickinson (who led JDCC in scoring last season). He may not be quite as good as Greg was from three-point range, but he is a better defensive player. He'll probably be a shooting guard, but he could go small forward," Gainer said.
The addition of the seven signees and the transfer of Ford bring the list of Warhawks to 10 for next season.
They join sophomore guards John Madison and Chris Owens and foward Jamal Carson. Carson figured to be a starter last season, but injured his knee in the season opener and did not return. Carson was later redshirted.
"Jamal's knee continues to get better all the time and we're hoping we'll have him completely recovered by the start of next season," Gainer said. "We don't have a lot back in the way of minutes. Chris and John both came off the bench although John's minutes increased a lot the second half of the season," Gainer said.
Gainer said he still hopes to add approximately three more players before he closes out his 2004-05 recruiting class.
"In addition to size, another thing we have done this offseason is expand our recruiting area. We've gone hard into Louisiana and a little bit into Georgia. We felt we needed to do that in order to get the kind of players we could sign, who could help us and be good citizens at our school," Gainer said. "Jairus Jackson and Micaiah Anthony are the only players we've signed from this area, but we feel very fortunate to get them. There were a lot of schools who wanted them."