BOONEVILLE, Miss. - The Northeast Mississippi Community College men's basketball team maintained its status among the elite programs in the country during the 2018-19 season.
The Tigers rose to as high as No. 23 in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) poll. It was the third consecutive campaign for Northeast to receive a national ranking.
Northeast also won 19 games for the second year in a row. The Tigers are averaging 19.3 victories per season dating back to the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament championship team of 2016.
The Tigers also reached the postseason at both the state and regional levels for the fifth straight year. Northeast advanced to the semifinals of the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) Tournament as well.
There is no evidence that the Tigers cannot extend their string of successes during the upcoming 2019-20 campaign. Northeast boasts an even mix of returning players, star transfers and talented freshmen across its 14-man roster.
"This time of the year you've got to be excited," said Tigers head coach Cord Wright. "The guys have been getting after it. We like our team. We've got a really good group of guys. They handle themselves correctly on-and-off the floor."
DeAnthony Tipler of Ashland highlights that group as the leading returning scorer for Northeast. He averaged 13 points per game, which included a sensational 40-point effort in a triumph over Lawson State (Ala.) Community College.
Jalen Perkins showcased his high-flying ability on multiple occasions in the past with several showcase dunks. The Walker, La., native compiled an efficient 41.9 field goal percentage and posted 5.4 points.
Nettleton's Grady Gardner continues to carry on his family's legacy of playing for the Tigers. Both his dad Grant Gardner and uncle Guy Gardner, who is a member of the Northeast Sports Hall of Fame, donned the black-and-gold in the 1990s.
The Tigers also get back standout post presence Ladarrius Spears following a redshirt season. He guided Okolona High School to the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 1A state championship as a senior by scoring 25 points in the title tilt.
Northeast should also greatly benefit from the addition of four transfers, including Isaac Chatman of Campbell (N.C.) University and JonDarius Warren from the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith.
Chatman started in 30 games for the Camels one year ago and contributed 7.3 points and 4.3 rebounds. He competed in the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Game and was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2018 Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) Class 4A Final Four while at Cordova (Ala.) High School.
Warren participated in 26 contests as a freshman for the Lions and notched a season-high of 10 points in a matchup at Dallas Baptist (Texas) University. He averaged 19 points in the 2018 MHSAA Class 4A State Tournament for Corinth High School.
Kentrell Dorsey and Jayven Humphrey also joined the Tigers from other two-year institutions. Both athletes were part of outstanding prep programs at Center Hill High School and Tupelo High School, respectively.
Six true freshmen, including local products Cole McGrath of Booneville and Braxton Pritchard from Tishomingo County High School, fill out the remainder of Northeast's lineup. McGrath and Pritchard are both big threats from three-point range.
Octavius Neal and Shadrick Bouldin give the Tigers representation from the Jackson metro area for a seventh successive campaign. The duo tallied 13.8 points and 5.7 points, respectively, last year at Lanier and Callaway high schools.
Kameron Jones of Memphis, Tenn., is the tallest player this season for Northeast at 6-8, 210 pounds. Makaylon Patterson caught the eyes of Wright and his assistant Kyle Morris by pouring in 17.9 points during his junior campaign.
"We've got a bunch of new guys that are fitting into their roles," Wright said. "It's going to be a process. The talent is there. The chemistry is there. We've just got to kinda put it all together and see what it looks like."
The Tigers play five of their first seven games inside historic Bonner Arnold Coliseum, including their debut versus Volunteer State (Tenn.) Community College on Thursday, November 7. All home doubleheaders start at 5:30 p.m. with women's action.
Sports Information Director
Northeast Mississippi Community College