By Datti Jinkiri
Basketball season is on the horizon, and Mississippi College’s basketball teams are ready to jump-start their seasons. The Gulf South Conference (GSC) announced its preseason basketball polls last month. The Lady Choctaws have been picked to finish sixth in the GSC Women’s Basketball standings, while the Choctaws have been tabbed to finish in ninth in the GSC Men’s Basketball standings.
The Lady Choctaws finished last season with a 15-13 record. They won ten conference games, which is tied for the most the program has won since returning to the Division II level. They also clinched their second postseason berth in three seasons before losing to Lee University in the opening round of the GSC Tournament.
Head Coach Greg Long is back for his third season in Clinton, and he will have some key returners to lean on this year. Despite losing leading scorer Ally Alford, the Lady Choctaws will bring back second-leading scorer Kyiah Julian. She averaged 9.7 points per game while also shooting 33.1 percent from three-point range. The junior guard also led the team in minutes, with 765.
Forward Amelia Bell had a stellar freshman season last year, leading the team in rebounds (6.7 per game) and blocks (39). She shot at a 51.4 percent clip while also contributing with 8.7 points per game.
Guards Gabby Bunch and Carley Hudspeth were named to the GSC’s Newcomer Watchlist. Bunch is a transfer from Southwest Mississippi Community College, where she averaged 11.7 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 2.3 assists last season. Hudspeth is a graduate transfer from the University of Central Arkansas, where she played in 106 career games.
The Lady Choctaws will open the season on Friday, November 11, at home against LeMoyne-Owen.
The Choctaws finished last season with a 7-19 record, but head coach Randy Bolden will be looking for an improvement in his second season at the helm. He will have some proven talent to lead the team this year.
Junior guard Tradavis Thompson led the team in scoring last year, averaging 14.5 points per game. The Raymond native also shot 46.7 percent from the field.
Senior forward Galen Smith was a stalwart inside for the Choctaws, averaging 13.2 points and a team-best 6.5 rebounds last year. He also finished second on the team in blocks, with 16.
Sophomore forwards Paul Smith and Justin Reid were named to the GSC’s Newcomer Watchlist. Smith played in 14 games last season at Pensacola State Community College, where he averaged 4.3 points and shot 90 percent from the free throw line. Reid averaged 8.3 points per game and shot 51.2 percent from the field at Eastern Florida Community College.
The Choctaws will open the season on November 11 at home versus Albany State.