The NJCAA released its updated weekly rankings earlier today, and several All-American Juco Jamboree participants made the list. In the NJCAA D1 & D2 polls, 5 of the top 10 from each ranking participated in either our Wichita Jamboree or Orlando Jamboree this fall. On the D2 side, #1 National Park, #2 Davidson-Davie, #7 Ellsworth, #8 Parkland, & #10 Kirkwood have all gotten off to blistering starts. In D1 action, #1 South Plains and #2 Mineral Area have remained perfect, while #5 Daytona, #6 Northwest Florida, and #9 Trinity Valley look to stay in a prime position for a March run. #3 Barton & #4 Chipola have made the steady climb into the Top 5, with the Chipola drawing first blood in their rivalry series with conference foe Northwest Florida late last week.
Former Juco Johnnies Hodge, McCasland & Forbes Winning Big
Numerous head coaches at the D1 level have first gained plenty of experience at the JUCO level. Several former Juco champions have found success in Division 1 this season. Current Texas Tech Head Coach Grant McCasland started his coaching career as an assistant coach at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, Colorado, before being named the head coach at Midland College at only 27 years old. His Chaparrals won the 2007 NJCAA National Championship and finished National Runner-Up in 2009. As a D1 Head Coach at Arkansas State, North Texas, and now Texas Tech, McCasland has amassed an impressive 170-80 record. His current Red Raider squad is 15-3 and ranked #20 in this week's AP Poll.
Steve Forbes has a long resume in the junior college ranks, starting out at Southwestern CC (IA), followed by a 68-28 tenure at Barton County, and more recently a 62-6 record in two years at Northwest Florida from 2011-2013. His first head coaching gig at the Division 1 level started at East Tennessee State, where he finished his fifth season with 130 wins and a .748 win percentage before taking over at Wake Forest to start the 2020-2021 season. At Wake, Forbes had a 19-win improvement from his first year to his second. Wake Forest had one of the largest year-to-year improvements in NCAA history. Wake Forest also broke the program record for most home wins in a season during the first and second rounds of the NIT for 18 home wins in 2021-22. Forbes was named ACC Coach of the Year at the conclusion of the 2022 season. This year, the Demon Deacons are off to a 13-5 start and face #3 North Carolina in a nationally televised game tonight on ESPN.
This past spring, Ross Hodge was named Head Coach at the University of North Texas after serving as the right-hand man to McCasland for 7 years at Arkansas State & UNT. From 2006-11, Hodge was one of the nation's top junior college head coaches, compiling a 146-24 (.858) overall record with stops at Paris JC and Midland College. This year the Mean Green have picked up right where they left off, but with higher stakes after joining the American Conference. The rookie D1 Head Coach is off to a fast start in Denton, having UNT at 11-6 overall and 4-1 in AAC play, good enough for a 3rd place tie and a half game out of first place. The Mean Green face conference rival SMU on Thursday in a pivotal matchup at the top of the AAC standings.
Top 100 Released, Fab 50 Up Next
Last week, JucoRecruiting.com released its first edition of the Top 100 for the Class of 2024. Congratulations to all who made the list, and a reminder that we will be updating the list later in the season as conference play heats up. Please DM us with any nominations. Coming up in February, we will release the Fab 50 freshman list for all those with an additional year of Juco eligibility remaining. These honorees will automatically receive an invite to the prestigious All-American Top 200 Camp this July in Atlanta, GA. Again, if you have any freshmen or redshirt freshmen that you feel should be considered for this list or the Top 200, please contact us, and we will gladly monitor their progress.
Veteran Head Coach Donnie Tyndall (4th season as HC at Chipola) raked in his 100th win at the helm last week with a 66-57 win over conference foe Pensacola State. The Indians are off to a blistering start once again at 19-1, including an outrageous 29 consecutive home winning streak dating back to last season. Coach Tyndall has won the Panhandle Conference during his first three seasons and, for his efforts, has been named the Panhandle Conference Coach of the Year in each of those seasons. Tyndall has led Chipola to an 82-16 record entering this season, including a 42-2 record in the Milton H. Johnson Center. Over the last three years, seventeen players have moved on to NCAA Division One schools.