There was a minor shuffling of coaches in Region XIV men’s basketball during the offseason.
But it didn’t result in a lot of new coaches coming to the league. That’s because two of the coaches remained in the conference but at a new location.
Grant McMillan headed from Panola to Navarro after Michael Landers, who was once the head women’s coach at Trinity Valley, decided to retire from his post as Navarro head men’s basketball coach and move into the role as athletic director at Navarro.
Taking McMillan’s place at Panola was Aaron Smith, who spent the past four seasons as head men’s basketball coach at Jacksonville College.
Both McMillan and Smith know what it takes to win in the league and will use their experience to help their new squads challenge for a league title and a berth to the national tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas.
“I’m excited to be here,” Smith said. “Understanding the grind of a Region XIV season is big. There are 19 games, and every single one is hard. Being in the league for a few years has helped, knowing what type of player and what level of player it takes to be successful.”
McMillan, who was 93-32 in four seasons at Panola , takes over a Navarro team that went 25-7 last season and fell to Trinity Valley, 87-67 in the Region XIV Tournament championship.
“It’s a chance to build another program and work under the leadership of Michael Landers, who I became good friends with,” McMillan said. “He has an incredible vision for the athletic department, and I believe in that vision.”
The Bulldogs return Sherman Robinson, a 6-7 sophomore from Freeport, Bahamas, who shot 43 percent from 3-point range a season ago and was invited to the JUCO All-American Showcase in July in Atlanta.
Tyrese Ross (6-1 guard from New York) returns for the Bulldogs after playing in 31 games as a freshman. Jakobe Dill joined Navarro midseason but redshirted after transferring from UTEP.
“Sherman and Tyrese didn’t play huge roles last season because they had an older team that was the best in the league,” McMillan said. “But they understand what it takes to win in this league, and they’ve been leaders so far.”
Some notable newcomers for the Bulldogs are Dravon Clayborn, DJ Little, Jesse Zarzuela, Souleymane Doumbia, Brian Washington (6-7, Las Vegas) and Akol Mawein (6-9, Australia).
Clayborn is a transfer from Missouri State-West Plains who was in the top 10 in the country with 8.6 assists per game last season. Little averaged 16 points per game at Palm Beach College. Zarzuela is a former three-star recruit who is transferring from UTEP.
Doumbia, who stands at 6-10 from the Ivory Coast, is a three-star recruit who had offers from TCU, Memphis and Texas A&M. McMillan expects him to be one of the top freshman in the NJCAA.
“We are very talented on paper,” McMillan said. “We are young with good freshmen. This group is fun to coach and be around.”
Smith will take over for McMillan at Panola after four years at Jacksonville College, where he posted a record of 78-45.
Returning for the Ponies is 6-3 wing Kamari Brown, who averaged 10.6 points and 3.8 rebounds per game last season.
Among the newcomers for Panola are Jermaine Drewey, Stanton Rose, Kelyn Pennie and Christopher Coley, who all played for Smith at Jacksonville College.
“I felt like I was fortunate to get this job, and I was excited to be able to take those kids who I recruited, signed and coached for a year and be able to give them an opportunity here,” Smith said.
Drewey averaged 9.2 points and 3.0 rebounds at Jacksonville; Rose 5.4 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists; and Pennie 8.0 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists.
Other newcomers for the Ponies are 6-8 Cal State-Northridge transfer Teddy Ochieng, 6-8 Gulf Coast State transfer Jerrel Kelly and 6-8 Keiser University transfer Aaron Gedeon.
Trinity Valley is always in the mix in the Region XIV North Zone. The Cardinals are coming off of their first regional tournament title since 2016. At the national tournament, Trinity Valley opened with a win over Shelton State before falling to South Plains.
Trinity Valley had a stretch in 2018-19 where it lost three consecutive conference games by at least 18 points. The Cardinals followed that by winning 10 of their next 12 games to qualify for the NJCAA Tournament for the fifth time in six seasons.
Guy Furr is entering his fourth year as head coach of Trinity Valley after spending 14 years as an assistant under Leon Spencer, Pat Smith and Kris Baumann.
The Cardinals are 80-20 under Furr after going 28-8 a season ago.
Hometown product Gary Lyons Jr. returns along with Vladimir Purtskhvanidze.
Some newcomers for the Cardinals are DaShawn Davis, Camryn Dennis, Anderson Mirambeaux, Keron Bailey, Joseph Thompson, Mitchell Seraille, Noah Thomas and Darry Moore.
Bailey is a transfer from Oral Roberts; Thompson from South Alabama; Seraille from Stephen F. Austin and Thomas from LSU.
Davis is a three-star recruit who originally signed with Seton Hall.
Seraille is a a preseason Street & Smith’s fifth-team All-American, and Mirambeaux was selected of one of the top five freshmen in the country.
Trinity Valley is ranked No. 14 in the preseason.
Tyler is drawing a lot of buzz in the Region XIV North Zone as the possible favorite. The Apaches return Shahada Wells, who is a preseason Street & Smith’s fifth-team All-American. Wells averaged 16.1 points, 2.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game last season.
Also back are Deandre Heckard, Kieffer Punter, Malik Lawrence-Anderson, Jason Bush, Rory Pantophlet and Ryan Walls — who started last school year on the Tyler baseball team before joining the basketball team and averaging 4.3 points per game and shooting 48 percent from 3-point range.
Newcomers for the Apaches are Kevon Cooper, Zakari Hart and Jackson Kennedy — a 6-6 forward from Tyler Cumberland Academy.
Kilgore will use a mix of returning big men and a slew of newcomers to try to climb up the conference standings under veteran head coach Brian Hoberecht , who has a career record of 361-227 (205-132) at Kilgore.
Rodrigue Andela — a 6-8 forward who averaged 13.8 points, eight rebounds and two blocks per game — and Assane Ndiyae — a 7-1 center — are back for the Rangers.
Joining the big duo are Tysen Banks, Bradley Belt (Wyoming transfer), Justin Davis, Cameron Gooden, Brendon Hoberecht, Montrell Horsey (Delaware State transfer), Jeremy Lefort, Tyron McMillan, Stephan Morris, D’Rell Roberts and Michael Thomas.
McMillan is listed as one of a Street & Smith’s top five freshmen in the country.
The Rangers are ranked No. 18 in the country in the preseason.
Paris returns 6-6 wing Markell Jackson, who averaged 13.5 points and seven rebounds per game a season ago. Reggie Daniels, a 6-7 forward from Center High School, averaged six points and six rebounds as a freshman.
Joining the Dragons are 5-10 point guard Starlin Hamilton from Carman Ainsworth High School in Flint, Michigan, and Romello Wilbert — a 6-3 point guard who is transferring from Incarnate Word after a standout career at The Woodlands High School.
“We should have more depth this year and be a more balanced team offensively,” Paris head coach Bobby Taylor said.
Taking over for Smith as head coach at Jacksonville is Louis Truscott — a former standout at the University of Houston who played professionally in the NBA Development League and overseas.
In the Region XIV South Zone, Lamar State-Port Arthur will return plenty of experience from last season’s squad that won 20 games.
Devaughn Thomas is the team’s top returning scorer at 11 points per game. Jamuys Jones, Terrance Minor and Dorian Chatman all averaged more than seven points per game, and Braylon Chaisson is also back. Darrell Jones, Justice Vaughn, Terrence Smith, Byron Arceneaux and Clarence Miller all redshirted last season and will look to contribute.
The Seahawks will also welcome plenty of newcomers — Ferontay Banks, Kanntrell Burney, Terron Brown, Jadun McCarty, Kenyawn Bowie, Ronnie Chaney, Latrell Alfred, J’Son Brooks, Gavin Jarrell and Xavier Thompson.
“This team has a lot of players with college experience and has a legitimate chance of making a postseason run,” head coach Lance Madison said.
Angelina will look to build on an 18-14 record and second-place finish in the South Zone in head coach Nick Wade’s first season. Returning for the Roadrunners are Riley Dewitz, Ovidio Perez, Dralyn Brown, Braxton Foreman, Cameron Hart and Travis Henson.
Joining Angelina are Samad Starling (6-2 guard, Conroe Oak Ridge), Chance Brown (6-6 wing, Cleveland), Christyon Eugene (6-3 guard, Spring), Darius Smith (6-4 wing, Peabody Magnet, Louisiana), Kyron Gibson (5-11 guard, Peabody Magnet, Louisiana), Emmanuel Adeoye (6-9 forward/center, Salesian, California), Dwighto Simon (6-7 forward/center, LSU-Eunice), G’Warren Douglas (6-7 forward, New Mexico Military Institute) and Tayvion Johnson (6-7 forward, Midwestern State).
“We are long, fast and athletic,” Wade said. “We will look to push the tempo accompanied by a suffocating defense.”
Lee will look to bounce back from a 13-17 finish in 2018-19 under head coach Roy Champagne, who has a record of 355-381 in 26 seasons at the helm.
Joining the Rebels are 6-2 Trinidad State transfer Keontae White, 6-9 LSU-Alexandria transfer Chris Osten and 6-5 freshman point guard Jackson Makoi.
Victoria is a newcomer the the Region XIV South Zone this season.
In the Region V North Texas Junior College Athletic Conference, Ranger did what all junior college basketball teams enter the season with dreams of — playing for a national title.
Ranger was the national runner-up, falling to Vincennes (Indiana), 87-77, in the title game.
“It’s always great to be in a championship game, but you always want to win it,” head coach Billy Gillispie said.
The Rangers sent eight players to the Division I level from that team that went 31-4 and averaged nearly 90 points per game — Keyshaad Dixon (Idaho), Coryon Mason (Abilene Christian), Jonathan Jackson (Prairie View A&M), Jaren English (St. Bonaventure), Luis Rivas (McNeese State), Braden Bell (Marist), Tristan Green (Denver) and Caleb Asberry (Texas State).
“We lost some good players, but we recruited some good players,” Gillispie said. "We’re looking to continue to try to have success with this program.”
Brayan Au is the top returner for Ranger and is a preseason Street & Smith’s second-team All-American.
Ranger is ranked No. 5 in the country in the preseason.
Among the teams looking to challenge Ranger near the top of the NTJCAC is Temple, which won the NJCAA scoring title for the 12th time last season by averaging 107.2 points per game.
The Leopards are under the direction of Kirby Johnson, who has a record of 691-299 in 32 seasons at the helm.
Temple went 24-7 last season and tied for second in the conference.
Returning for Temple are Kedrian Johnson and R.J. Mason. Johnson finished in the top five in the country last season with 25.6 points per game and led the nation with 3.7 steals per contest. Mason averaged 17.5 points, 4.5 assists and 2.4 steals.
Johnson a preseason Street & Smith’s third-team All-American
Notable newcomers for the Leopards are Korttrkik Miles (New Mexico State transfer), Aleu Aleu (6-7 freshman, Austin), Carlton Linguard (6-11 freshman, San Antonio Stevens), Josiyah Thron (6-9 freshman, Austin Reagan), Hugo Florestedt (6-5 freshman, Sweden) and Tariq Aman (5-9 freshman, Coppell).
“If our freshmen produce, we have a chance to be successful,” Johnson said. “We have three very good sophomore guards that will carry our team this season.”
Southwestern Christian returns 6-3 guard Malik Cooper, who averaged 11.8 points per game last season, along with Jordan Hall and Roy’el Everson.
Newcomers for the Rams are Jordan Mays, Kavon Freeman, McKinley Harris, Jalen Johnson and Vernice Seriale
Mays, a 6-8 wing, averaged 19 points and 12 rebounds averaged 19 points and 12 rebounds per game at Trinity Christian Academy in Houston. Freeman, a 6-4 guard, averaged 22 points per game at Dallas Bryan Adams High School, and Johnson, a 6-0 guard, averaged 24 points per game at Hobart High School in Oklahoma.
Collin County and McLennan are also among the strong competitors in the Region V North Texas Junior College Athletic Conference.
In the Region V Western Junior College Athletic Conference, South Plains is ranked No. 11 in the country and advanced to the national semifinals last season.
Odessa, Howard and New Mexico will be among the teams looking to knock off South Plains in the WJCAC.
In Region V’s Dallas Athletic Conference, North Lake will look to bounce back from an 11-20 campaign that came a year after a sixth-place national finish.
Matthew Boatner and Mitchell Abercrombie return for North Lake. University of Texas at Tyler transfer Chris Craig joins the team after averaging 11.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game as a freshman for the Patriots.
Eastfield was the runner-up in the conference a season ago with a 25-8 overall mark.
Under the direction of head coach Anthony Fletcher, who has a record of 306-139 at the school, Eastfield returns two double-digit scorers from last season and a third from two seasons ago.
Tamarcus Butler (10 points, four rebounds per game) and D’Angelo Smith (10 points, six rebounds per game) are back for Eastfield. Dajuan Ridgeway averaged 13 points per game in 2017-18.
Myles Brown, Courtland Pender and Xavier Benson are also back for the Harvesters.
Newcomers for Eastfield are Tyrese Davis, Marvin Nedem, Mike Aranda, Calvin Williams, Sidney McFall, Kyndall Miller, Kyree Rogers, Ezekiel Fields and Quincy White.
Eastfield has been in the regional championship game in eight of the past 11 seasons and will look to be there once again in 2019-20.
PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
2. Trinity Valley
6. Bossier Parish
1. Lamar State-Port Arthur
6. Coastal Bend
1. South Plains
3. New Mexico
5. Western Texas
8. New Mexico Military
9. Frank Phillips
3. Collin County
8. Southwestern Christian
2. North Lake
4. Mountain View
5. Cedar Valley