Men’s Basketball Awaits Full Season Under New Leadership / Jace Aymond
Even with COVID-19 wreaking chaos on all of the sports teams on MC’s campus, the men’s basketball team was affected more than most. Even with the Gulf South Conference graciously putting together a shortened, conference only, winter season, the Choctaws played far less games that were scheduled. Out of the 20 games scheduled at the start of this past year, only eight were actually played due to COVID cancellations from both the Choctaws and opposing teams. Although they played the least number of games in the entire conference this past winter, they return tons of talent and a new head coach with incredible potential.
Back with the Choctaws is Brandon Boston, who has a plethora of achievements like leading the conference last year in scoring with over 20 points a game and being the 19th player in program history to score over 1,000 points. Boston could easily break into the top 10 as Al Sheffield, who is 10th in scoring all time at MC, sits at only 1159 points.
The Choctaws are more than excited and ready for their full winter season after what was a disappointing one the year prior. In his third year with the team after transferring from Division I Ohio University, Antonio Cowart Jr. says he’s “super excited” to be back to a full schedule “because we don’t have to play back to back on Friday and Saturday, because that killed us. With Coach Bolden coming in too, everything is kind of fresh and new so I’m really looking forward to it.”
As Cowart Jr. mentioned, Randy Bolden was hired as the new head coach following the retirement of long-time coach Mike Jones at the end of last season. Bolden had a successful playing career at Texas Southern and even played internationally in Iceland, Brazil, and Canada before becoming a coach. He started his coaching career as an assistant at Jackson Provine High School before becoming the head coach at Pearl High School for four years. His longest tenure was at Meridian High School, where he racked up 227 wins and a state championship from 2007-2016. He moved on to the collegiate level after this as an assistant at Hinds Community College for one year before becoming the head coach at Jones College, where he has spent the past four years.
Many of the returning players noted that with Mike Jones the prior year, the flow of the game was slower so they could set up the offense and specific plays. With Bolden, however, Serbian returning player Marko Jovanovic noted, “He’s been getting us better with conditioning. We’re practicing with more pace so I think we’re going to run the game faster and score a lot more points. We’re not afraid to run more, so I think we’re shooting for the top spot this season.”
Adding on to this different play style, Cowart Jr. said, “Everything is faster paced now, it’s up and down and how quick you can get to the other end and play defense. He’s not only on getting up and down, but about guarding. To play the game you have to guard and that helps out a lot to win ball games.”
The season tips off with two scrimmages against Florida State and Louisiana Tech before their first regular season game at Lynn University, located in Boca Raton, Florida. Other non-conference opponents include Millsaps, LSU-Shreveport, Texas A&M-Commerce, and Division I Samford in Birmingham before conference play begins on Dec. 2.