East Mississippi Community College men’s basketball coach Mark White has announced the addition of eight in-state signees for the 2014-15 academic year. The talented group of EMCC newcomers consists of four all-state high school performers, three prospects from the college’s traditional district recruiting area and a junior college transfer.
From EMCC’s local district area, the Lions have signed Starkville’s Dontavius Self, Juan Davis from West Point and Meridian’s J’Vaughnte Harris. Having all previously claimed all-state recognition from the Jackson Clarion-Ledger newspaper, East Mississippi has also inked Pascagoula’s LaDatren Deas, Denarrius Gray of Scott Central High School, Raymond’s James Jordan, and Daniel Simmons from Biggersville. Pascagoula’s Ladarron Johnson, who previously played at Jones County Junior College, rounds out EMCC’s in-state basketball signees.
“As a coaching staff, we made a concerted effort to focus on recruiting quality players from winning high school basketball programs,” noted White, who has compiled a seven-year EMCC coaching mark of 143-58 in directing the Lions to four national tournament appearances with four consecutive regional championships and four straight division titles. “With that in mind and the fact that we were primarily looking for versatile players with the ability to play several positions, this is the best overall group of in-state players we’ve signed in one recruiting class during my seven seasons here at EMCC.”
Self (6-3, 210) averaged a team-leading 14 points and nine rebounds per game as a senior to help lead head coach Greg Carter’s 24-5 SHS Yellowjackets to a Region 3-6A runner-up finish and a berth in the Class 6A North State semifinals. Self follows in a long line of former Starkville High School basketball players to make the short trek to the Scooba campus, including former EMCC standouts Jacolby Mobley, CoCo Ware, John Harris and Woodie Howard.
From West Point, Davis (6-7, 200) averaged 11.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per contest this past season in helping pace WPHS to a 26-6 record, Region 2-5A championship and a semifinal-round finish in the Class 5A North State tournament. The recipient of district MVP honors and tabbed the Green Wave’s offensive MVP as a senior, Davis is the brother of graduating EMCC Lady Lion basketball player Wilma Davis.
Set to join former Meridian High School teammate Antonio Finley on the Scooba campus for the upcoming basketball season, Harris (5-9, 145) averaged a team-best 7.5 assists along with 6.4 points an outing as an all-district selection for head coach Randy Bolden’s 23-7 squad this past year. A three-year starting playmaker at MHS, Harris helped direct the 2013-14 Wildcats to the Region 5-6A championship and a semifinal-round showing in the Class 6A South State tournament.
Accorded All-State Second Team and All-Metro First Team accolades by the Jackson Clarion-Ledger this past season at Raymond, Jordan (6-3, 170) averaged 18.3 points, 8.1 rebounds and four steals per contest in helping lead head coach Robert Green’s Rangers to a 28-8 record as Class 4A State and South State runners-up. As a junior, Jordan was an honorable mention all-state pick and a member of the South team in the 2013 Mississippi Association of Coaches (MAC) All-Star Game.
Also a two-time all-state hoops performer, Simmons (6-2, 190) averaged 21.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.1 steals an outing as a senior for head coach Cliff Little’s Biggersville Lions. A participant for the North team during the 2013 MAC All-Star Game, Simmons was a 2013-14 Jackson Clarion-Ledger Preseason Dandy Dozen selection after helping pace BHS to the Class 1A state championship while garnering second-team all-state honors as a junior.
Gray (6-2, 175), a high-scoring guard from Scott Central High School, earned District 5 Player of the Year laurels after averaging 27.7 points and 4.7 rebounds per game as a senior for head coach Lamond Bowie’s Region 5-2A runner-up squad. An honorable mention all-state recipient by the Jackson Clarion-Ledger as a junior, Gray was a South team participant and three-point shooting contest winner during the 2013 MAC All-Star Game festivities.
Selected to the 2013-14 Biloxi Sun Herald All-South Mississippi team, Deas (6-0, 180) averaged 12.7 points and seven assists per contest as a senior point guard to help direct head coach Ronald Norman’s 24-8 Pascagoula squad to a second straight Class 5A South State championship and an appearance in the Class 5A State Tournament semifinals. For his efforts this past season, Deas also earned Jackson Clarion-Ledger Honorable Mention All-State honors and was tabbed Best Offensive Player in District 8.
A former teammate of Deas at Pascagoula High School, Johnson (6-7, 195) most recently saw limited action at Jones County JC before a foot injury cut short his 2012-13 season. The left-hander averaged 8.6 points and 3.0 rebounds during five November outings for the JCJC Bobcats two seasons ago. As a prep senior, Johnson averaged 11.5 points and 7.2 rebounds an outing for the 26-4 PHS Panthers during the 2011-12 high school campaign.
“Much of the credit for us being able to bring in such an outstanding collection of in-state recruits goes to my assistant coaches Shelby Lindley and Drew Bernd,” White added. “Their relentless recruiting efforts continue to pay big dividends for the EMCC basketball program, as both Shelby and Drew do an excellent job of nurturing the necessary relationships with high school coaches around the state and with the families of our signees.”