HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Just a few thoughts while flipping the calendar and hoping the days of May are discernable from the lost and lonely blur that was April …
- University of Southern Mississippi men’s basketball coach Jay Ladner likes his 2020-21 signing class.
We mean, he really, really likes it.
“This class has the ability to change the direction of the program,” Ladner said during a recent media meeting through Zoom.
Ladner said the Golden Eagles were delighted with the group of five they inked on the opening day of the signing period.
That group included Pearl River Community College point guard Tae Hardy, who Ladner described as “the best player on the best junior-college team in the country.."
It also included guard Jaron Pierre of New Orleans St. Augustine High School and Mark Jaakson, an Estonian native who played at the same prep academy as current USM swingman Artur Konontsuk.
“We think those two are steals,” Ladner said.
USM then added two JuCo prospects who were ranked among the top 20 players in the nation, a pair of long, lean bookends from south Florida, including 6-foot-7 guard Justin Johnson from South Georgia Technical College and 6-8 wing DeAndre Pinckney from Broward College.
The two faced each other growing up and were friendly rivals in high school. Johnson’s signing may have helped make up Pinckney’s mind to join the Golden Eagles, Ladner said.
He stopped just short of saying USM fans could expect to immediately see the junior college trio in the starting lineup, but did acknowledge that junior college players certainly were signed with the idea that they would contribute early.
“We didn’t promise any one they would start,” Ladner said. “What we did tell them is we can promise you the opportunity is there. We’re going to put the best five players on the court.”
Ladner said that one or two more newcomers were a distinct possibility, depending on how the spring semester shook out for some of the players currently rostered.
The watch certainly included sophomore point guard Jay Malone, who broke into the starting lineup late in non-conference play only to be sidelined in January because of academic shortcomings during the fall semester.
- Last week, we dinged the New Orleans Saints in this column for trading their entire Sunday complement of draft picks, rounds four through seven, to move up and grab tight end Adam Trautman near the end of the third round.
We had no issue with the pick or the player. By many accounts, Trautman was a steal at that point in the draft.
Our thought was the Saints gave some short shrift to those latter-round picks, that a certain hubris was attached to the idea that we can just bundle a day of the draft away because we’re just that durn good.
And, perhaps, the Saints are that good. It just seemed to be a bit of a tweak of the football gods, which usually does not bode well.
Then, we read this excerpt from a Sports Illustrated on-line piece that had asked National Football League executives who they thought had a good draft, a bad draft, where were surprises, etc, etc, etc.
One executive lauded the Saints’ weekend, saying he liked what New Orleans did, “… to trade and get a few good players rather than holding onto a number of late-round picks that will be limited in their development with a shortened offseason.”
That is what we would call food for thought.
- Saw where two folks copped to breaking into Neyland Stadium at the University of Tennessee last week and stealing more than $600 worth of beer.
Which begs the question: Why the heck were there cases of beer still sitting in Neyland Stadium some five months after the football season?
- Folks have been wondering about what we may be facing once we get COVID-19 in the rearview mirror, but until then, we recently got another taste of the “new norm” these days on a trip to the local Wal-Mart.
New policy means only so many folks allowed in the store at any one time, so one has to get in line outside to eventually stand in line inside.
Wasn’t bad, for the most part.
Clearly colored lines on the concrete at our feet set the social-distancing distances. The wait was relatively brief, no more than 10 minutes, tops, though let’s hope we’re not still doing this at peak shopping hours in the middle of a Mississippi summer.
Like we said, wasn’t bad until someone a few groups ahead decided to shuck their ear buds and share their musical selections with the rest of us.
With lines perhaps becoming more prevalent in the days ahead, we’d like to offer a few words from the Common Courtesy Department for those opting to share their music or, even worse, their end of a prolonged phone conversation: Please. Don’t.
- We decline to partake ourselves, but while in the Wal-Mart line, couldn’t help but wonder what a “Black Friday” shopping spree might could look like this year
- From the “A-Little-Late-To-The-Party" file: Saw a headline last week that read, “World Struggles To Stop Spread Of Coronavirus.”
- Not the Little League World Series, too
- Be kind. Be wary. Be smart. Be safe.