5 Wildcats invited to prestigious JuCo hoops showcase in Atlanta

Five PRCC Wildcat basketball members will be in the All-American JUCO Showcase.
Five PRCC Wildcat basketball members will be in the All-American JUCO Showcase.(WLOX Sports)
Updated: Jun. 9, 2020 at 12:08 AM CDT
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From Pearl River Community College Sports Information Department

POPLARVILLE, Miss. (WDAM) - Five men’s basketball players at Pearl River Community College will be in the national spotlight later this summer.

PRCC will be sending upcoming sophomore guards Joe Cooper, Earl Smith, Damerius Wash and Jariyon and Jaronn Wilkens to the prestigious All-American JUCO Showcase in Atlanta.

The invite-only showcase will be staged Aug. 7-9.

“Any time our kids get a chance to play in front of four-year coaches, it’s a good thing, because the ultimate goal for them coming here is to sign a four-year scholarship,” Pearl River coach Chris Oney said.

Oney earned National Junior College Athletic Association “Coach of the Year” honors in 2019-20 after leading the Wildcats to 28 consecutive wins.

That streak included victories that finished off title runs in the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges and Region XXIII postseason tournaments.

The Wildcats, the lone unbeaten Division I JuCo team in the nation, received top seeding at the NJCAA national tournament, a first for any Mississippi junior college men’s basketball program.

The national tournament was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Wilkens twins and Smith both contributed to the Wildcats’ success in 2019-20.

Smith averaged 6.6 points, 2.0 assists and 1.9 rebounds. Both Wilkens averaged 5.6 points per game, while Jaronn averaged 4.1 rebounds and Jariyon averaged 2.9 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game.

Cooper, who redshirted at PRCC last season, was a standout at powerhouse Olive Branch High School. Wash, a former Canton High School standout, transferred from Daytona State College in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Each player in the Atlanta showcase will play up to four games.

While the Wildcats saw a slew of talent depart from the 2019-20 roster, including six who signed to play at four-year schools, PRCC may have brought in the most-talented signing class in Oney’s tenure.

The class initially included a pair of high school forwards (Tupelo High School’s Josh Mitchell and Brandon High School’s Jaquevias Tarvin), four prep guards (Cooper, Hattiesburg High School’s Cameron Brown, North Panola High School’s Ankerion Gross and Natchez High School’s Kedarius “Squirt” Stampley) and Wash.

The deep class got deeper last week, when Oney announced that guard Jalen Cincore would transfer to PRCC from Georgia Southern University.

“Coach Oney and his staff will give me a great opportunity to use my gifts and talents to the best of my ability at a high level,” Cincore said in an announcement on Twitter. “I’m very excited and can’t wait to get to work.”

The 6-foot-6, 180-pound Cincore played in eight games with the Eagles, scoring four points, grabbing seven rebounds and coming up with an assist, steal and blocked shot.

Cincore was named to GSU’s Dean’s List for the spring semester.

“Jalen fits this year’s team theme of versatility,” Oney said in a statement. “He’s another kid who can play multiple positions and score in a variety of ways.”

Prior to signing with Georgia Southern, Cincore was a standout at Bartlett High School in Memphis, Tenn.

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