2007-08 Jackson State Basketball Preview
Jackson State Tigers
Overall Rank: #140
Conference Rank: #1 SWAC
2006-07: 21-14, 12-6, 2nd
2006-07 postseason: NCAA
Jackson State will be looking for a new team leader on multiple levels after the terrific career of Trey Johnson has come to an end. Johnson went out with a bang, averaging 27.1 points and reaching the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers even held their own for a little while against Florida in the first round before the depth of two time champions was too much for the SWAC squad. Replacing the points of Johnson will be done by committee, but the leadership role will fall on point guard Catraiva Givens. The 5-8 senior averaged 4.1 assists per game last year and will need to figure out how to pass the ball to somebody besides Johnson.
Johnson took 752 shots during his senior campaign. The next highest on the team was 244. That is a lot of shots that will be distributed out to a group of underappreciated returning players. After living in the shadows of Johnson, they are ready to make a mark on Jackson State basketball. But more on them later. The backcourt also lost Julius Young who averaged 8.7 points per game.
The newcomers will be looking to take a handful of those shots left behind by Johnson. In fact, Jenirro Bush has the talent to take a lot of them. The 6-7 wing is a prolific scorer and was ranked in the top 100 in the class by some recruiting services. Bush, a Crawford, Mississippi product, led his high school team to a state championship and averaged 24.4 points, 9.2 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals as a senior. That is not a bad way to start replacing Johnson. Fellow newcomers Jerome Davis, Christopher Hyche and De’Suan Dixon will add depth on the wings. Point guard Rod Melvin will play behind Givens and has the potential to take over for the senior next season. Oliver Jefferson and Brandon Baker will battle for minutes in the frontcourt. Baker, a 7-footer, is a major presence under the basket on the defensive end, but will need to spend some time developing his overall basketball skills.
Who to Watch:
Grant Maxey and Jeremy Caldwell are talented frontcourt scorers. Maxey had a tremendous freshman campaign, averaging 8.9 points and a team high 5.7 rebounds and should develop into a big time SWAC player by year’s end. Caldwell will not be as prolific of a scorer, but still was fourth on the team with 7.0 points per game. Edwin Jarrow may be too important to keep out of the starting lineup despite what his 1.7 points and 2.6 rebounds per game imply. Jarrow, a 6-6 senior, will do the dirty work under the basket and give open up space for Maxey or Caldwell. Marcus Jones started ten games and is at least good for a foul or two a game, but he will not put up big numbers.
The only thing lacking from the returning players is a shooter. Kay Martinez, who made 29 long balls as a junior, needs to step up for his senior year. He will be expected to drastically increase his shot numbers and developing a little shooting consistency from the outside will go a long way to helping the Tigers. Most of the scoring talent is now on the interior and somebody has to start hitting the long ball to open up space in the paint. Jackson State will likely have trouble early in the year while finding its new scorers and developing a game plan that does not involve Johnson, but by the end, the talent level will have the Tigers in the thick of another trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Catraiva Givens, Senior, Guard, 5.3 points per game
Kay Martinez, Senior, Guard, 5.1 points per game
Jenirro Bush, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Grant Maxey, Sophomore, Forward, 8.9 points per game
Jeremy Caldwell, Junior, Center, 7.0 points per game