Third in the total number of American Southwest Conference titles, and first in ASC East division titles, the Mississippi College men’s basketball team is one of MC’s most historically successful athletic programs.
Between 1999 and 2008, MC Men’s basketball won all eight of their East Division titles. Furthermore, the Choctaws won the ASC Conference Championship six times between the years of 1998 and 2007.
The Choctaws started practice on Oct. 15 with 30 players, including only one returner who has played more than four games, Lakin Ford. A key component in last year’s basketball team, he started 21 games and played 598 minutes. Ford averaged 9.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.
Glancing at the field of players, the Choctaws lack size. Ford is their tallest player at 6’5”. Comparatively, the returning ASC champions, Concordia University (Texas), currently have four 6’7” post players on their roster. How will the Choctaws handle their lack of depth in the low post position?
Clearly undersized, the Choctaw forwards have their work cut out for them this season. Keep an eye on Ford going into his senior year.
“I want another ring, and this is my last year so I’m going to leave it all out on the floor,” Ford emphasized .
Ford will hope to have an impact on the Choctaw’s post game providing consistency on the boards and scoring in the paint. Also, DeAundrea Lyons, a transfer from Faulkner State Community College, looks to be another solid option for the Choctaw offense in the low block.
“The strength of our team has been in the play of our post players,” head coach Don Lofton said, “that was kind of a surprise.”
This year the Choctaws were picked to finish number seven out of 12 in the ASC conference in the preseason poll. Last year, MC was picked to finish 3rd in the East division and lost to Concordia, the eventual tournament champions, by two points in the first round of the ASC tournament.
“We are more athletic than any other team in this conference, we just some times don’t hit the right shots at the right time,” explained Connor Neuman, a senior shooting guard for the Choctaws.
Ranked 7th, the Choctaws have everything to prove. This is the lowest preseason ranking the Choctaws have ever received in the ASC preseason poll. Therefore, team chemistry will be important this season if the Choctaws are going to be a factor in the ASC Championship.
“I’m more concerned about where we finish and not where we were picked to finish,” said Lofton.
Possible starters for the Choctaws this season include junior transfers Jay Case, Jaron Edwards, Rayner Fredrick, DeAundrea Lyons, Emmanuel Ezejiofo, and senior returner Lakin Ford. Additional key players will be Willie Williams, Kelvin Smith, Lucas Buris, Connor Neuman, Chris Howard, and Jaron Case.
Watch for the leadership of Connor Neuman, Willie Williams, and Lakin Ford as they are the only three seniors on this years basketball team. Connor Neuman poses a threat from the outside, providing the Choctaws with a strong three point attack.
Coming off an injury last year, Williams has been enforcing his presence in the post and has impressed coach early in the season. “He has been the biggest surprise of our team this year,” said Lofton.
This year head coach Lofton and assistant coach Josh Brooks welcome two new members to their coaching staff, graduate assistant Spencer Segrest and student assistant Lee Smith.
Mississippi College Men’s Basketball opens the season at home against Pensacola Christian College in the A. E. Wood Coliseum on Nov. 16 at 5:00 p.m.
– Andrew Smedley, Contributing Writer