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JUCO Basketball Monday Minutes 1/8/24

By Cody Hopkins, 01/08/24, 4:30PM EST


New Year, New Poll

After a well-deserved holiday break, the NJCAA pollsters are back at it today, releasing the first polls of 2024. South Plains remains atop the rankings at 14-0, followed by #2 Daytona State, who handed #21 Indian River its first loss of the season with a 90-77 victory this weekend. #3 Northwest Florida (17-1), #4 Vincennes (14-1), and #5 Salt Lake City (15-1) round out the Top 5. Region 8 (Florida) has the most representatives in this week's poll, with six programs finding a spot in the rankings.


#1 South Plains, #2 Daytona St, #7 Mineral Area, and #15 Triton have all made it past the midway point unblemished with undefeated records. In Division 2 action, #1 Parkland and #3 National Park, both Wichita Jamboree participants, have maintained a perfect mark entering conference play. #1 Brookdale and #2 Northern Essex lead the Division 3 rankings after navigating through the first semester without a defeat. We will continue to monitor these programs' quest for an undefeated year all season long in our Monday Minutes.

Mid-Year Additions

Several programs welcomed some added depth to their rosters over the break. Clarendon College welcomed former 5-star Dior Johnson to the lineup, who has logged 18ppg/11apg through 2 contests. Zion Cruz, a former 4-star and transfer from DePaul, has landed at Pratt CC. Cruz saw his first game action after the break, averaging 15ppg for the Beavers. Northwest Florida added big man Jacques Shuler over the summer, but Shuler regained his eligibility after sitting out the first semester. The former 7’ Dodge City product is expected to have a big impact on the Raiders' run for another region title. Shuler scored 13 pts in 18 min of action in a win over Georgia Highlands last week.

Midland College welcomes former Top 100 Luke Davis, a 6’9 transfer from Tarleton St/SWIC, as well as getting Gardner Webb transfer 6’4 guard Leon Williams back from injury. The boost should really help the depth for the 2023 Hutch participant Chaparrals. Ranger College is pleased to have PG Harry Santiago, a transfer from Pensacola, back in the fold after missing the first semester with a preseason injury. Santiago was impressive on the West Texas Juco tour this fall. Pearl River CC has seen an immediate impact from 6'3 guard Ta'Zir Smith, who is averaging 22 PPG, 11 RPG, and 5 APG in his first three games of the season. Smith transferred to Pearl River from State Fair CC. Pearl River is now 10-2 on the season and 3-0 with Smith in the lineup. 

Juco Call Up

Congratulations to former Independence CC HC Justin Mann, who left the Pirates for an assistant position at The University of West Florida over the summer. After a coaching change to start the season, Mann was named interim HC of the Argonauts. Today, Mann was awarded the permanent position and named Head Coach after picking up a win vs Montevallo at home, 83-71.

Remembering Tadd Andrews

Last week, the basketball world lost one of its finest coaches as Panola assistant Tadd Andrews passed away in his sleep at the age of 30. Tadd was a former player at Garden City CC, served as a manager at Kansas, earned his master's at Washington, worked closely with Run GMC out of Kansas City, and served as a member of Team USA’s coaching staff for several years. He joined Clarendon College in 2020 and won a national championship at John Logan in 2023. Most recently, he served as an assistant coach at Panola College. 

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