With the 2019-20 season to start soon for Enterprise State Community College’s men’s and women’s basketball teams, head coach Jeremaine Williams said the goals are to have the players grow with the team and to compete for championships.
“This team can be really good,” Williams said at ESCC’s Basketball Media Day Oct. 2. “With the strength of schedule we have this year, we play three of the top teams in the country back to back. Just getting those guys to understand that’s not the conference level -- to build them up and show them that playing this caliber team is what it’s going to take to compete (on the state and national level).”
Both teams boast several talented players from around the Wiregrass, and a few from Enterprise High School including former standouts Ja’Juan Hayes, Randale Holloway and Gwen Mitchell.
“Ja’Juan has transformed his game,” Williams said. “It’s a little fast for him (right now) so we’re trying to speed him up and get him more athletic. He’s real skilled and we’re working on fixing his jump shot, getting it off a little quicker.
“Randale Holloway is the biggest surprise. He came in out of high school being a post player. He came in here playing the wing and him coming in at that position, learning to play and making that adjustment that quick -- he’s going to be a big help for us because of his size and his rebounding ability.”
Williams said Holloway has been consistent in his shooting, as well, and is garnering interest from four-year schools.
On the women’s side, Mitchell has continued the aggressive style of play she brought to the court as an EHS Wildcat.
“She’s doing exactly what I want her to do,” Williams said of Mitchell, who is currently being recruited by a couple of four-year schools. “She’s being aggressive just like she was in high school. We just want to get her to understand what’s a good shot and what’s a bad shot. Once we get that in her, I believe the recruiting trail will pick up for her, as well.”
Williams also mentioned other Wiregrass products making a splash, including Andrew Wheeler of Ariton High School and Ivy Turner of Dothan High School. Joining them as Wiregrass players are Geneva’s Jesselen Culver and Elba native Laken Cooks, as well as Kinston’s Hunter Davis.
This year’s women’s team will be young with 10 freshmen and two returning sophomores, while the men’s squad returns six sophomores. Williams identified returning player Ryan Davis and freshman James Pursley as two potential difference makers.
“We’ve got a chance to win,” he said. “I think we can get over the hump this year, especially with our big man James Pursley, who is a bigtime kid. He’ll be the one that can really get us over that hump at the end of the season. At 6-foot-9, 245 pounds he can shoot it, dribble the ball, play in the post. I think he can be one of the ones that can help us.
“I’m expecting Ryan Davis to take on a leadership role. He’s a 6-foot-4 point guard. He went out to Texas this summer for a Jerry Mullen event, which is a big event for bigtime recruits and you have to get invited by four years (to go). He represented Enterprise State well. The whole team is looking for him to be a leader and we’re just trying to get him to step up and become that leader.”
The Boll Weevils will begin the regular season in November, but team members have already had opportunities to mesh in offseason workouts and preseason play. Williams said everyone is “doing well in their conditioning” and everyone in “buying in, doing what they’re supposed to do.”
Williams also discussed “preseason boot camp,” which is well-known by the players.
“It’s rough, I’ll tell you,” he said. “It’s a lot of running. It takes a lot of discipline and a lot of ‘want to.’ In boot camp, you figure out if you really want to play college basketball. Everybody’s doing it. It’s a lot of military training. It’ll get you out of your comfort zone -- away from basketball. It really builds a team as a unit because at boot camp if one kid doesn’t finish the drill or finish that day, it doesn’t count for the whole team. So they’re steadily pushing each other to keep going and not quit.”