By Adam Gore/ICC Sports Information Department
FULTON – Itawamba Community College will open up the 2012 half of the basketball season Tuesday at 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. against Jones County Junior College and will mark the return to the hardwood for Parade All-American DJ Gardner.
The Okolona High School graduate originally signed with Mississippi State before transferring to ICC this past summer.
“It’s going to be really good getting back on the floor,” said Gardner. “I’ve learned a lot from all this, but I’m ready to put all of it behind me and play ball and do what I can to help the team get wins.”
Due to NJCAA transfer rules, Gardner had to sit out the first half of the season. He averaged 32 points and 10.3 rebounds per game in his final season at Okolona.
“Adding a player like DJ to the roster is obviously going to be a boost,” said ICC men’s head basketball coach Marty Cooper. “I expect there will be a little adjustment period, but I also expect to see big things from the guys once everyone comes together as a team.”
The Indians closed the 2011 half of the season winning three out their last four games to improve to 4-6 and 1-0 in MACJC North play.
The Lady Indians (8-2, 1-0 MACJC North) received votes in the final NJCAA women’s basketball poll of the 2011 season and will look to make a leap into the Top 15 in the early stages of the 2012 season.
“It’s been an exciting start to the season,” said ICC women’s head basketball coach Nanci Gray. “We’ve got a good mix of experienced sophomores and talented freshman that can come off the bench to give us solid minutes on both sides of the ball.”
Sophomore LaPrecious Naylon (Greene County HS, AL) leads the Lady Indians with 16.9 points per game (43rd in the NJCAA) and earned NJCAA Player of the Week honors in December. Fellow sophomore Jameika Hoskins (Aberdeen HS) is 21st in the nation in rebounding with 10.7 boards per game.
“We had a lot of positives to build on from the first half of the season and hopefully we continue improve to start playing our best basketball once division play rolls around,” said Gray.
ICC will host Co-Lin on Thursday, January 12 at 5:00 and 7:00 p.m.
For more information on ICC basketball and the eight other intercollegiate athletic programs visit the college website www.iccms.edu.