The Meridian Star
That is the only way to describe fans of East Mississippi Community College these days. As Lions fans eagerly await No. 2 rated EMCC’s first-round playoff game against No. 5 rated Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College on the gridiron Saturday, they were treated to an electrifying preview of further dominance on the hardwood Monday night.
Hometown hero Devonta Pollard brought down the house, dunking over and around teammates during EMCC’s annual Late Night with the Lions scrimmage. The University of Alabama transfer and former Kemper County High School standout is set to debut his homecoming season Thursday, Nov. 7 when EMCC travels to Meridian Community College.
Tuesday, the good news continued when the Lions were ranked No. 11 by the National Junior College Athletic Association’s preseason poll.
This year should be special for the Lions as they look to lean on Pollard to secure a fifth straight Region 23 championship. I mean how often does a junior college get a five-star talent? EMCC head coach Mark White certainly can’t recall one.
“I’ve coached junior college 12 or 13 years and never had a McDonalds All-American,” he said. “I don’t know if there has ever been a McDonald All-American that has played at a junior college. It definitely brings a lot of notoriety to the program.”
Out of high school, many thought Pollard would be a one-and-done player at Alabama. However, an inability to adjust to a half-court system resulted in him only averaging only 3.9 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-8 wingman was also forced into the post position. The move limited his ability to run the floor the same way he did during his senior season at Kemper County where he averaged 23.8 points per game and led the Wildcats to a 3A state championship. Now, playing in EMCC’s high-flying full-court offense we should see more of Pollard above the rim and less of him lost under it.
“We’ll play him in different places,” White said. “It will depend on each game and who’s guarding him, but we will use him for a variety of things.
“At Alabama, he was on more of a half-court, structure, guard-oriented team. We try to instill a lot of confidence in our kids and get them to play our style. I feel like the more games he plays here and gets adjusted to our play, he’ll get better and better.”
Pollard wont just be at home on the court, the soft-spoken forward should also benefit from playing just a few miles from his hometown in front of the same familiar faces that have cheered him on his entire career.
“He just knows the guys here,” White said. “He’s friends with guys like Avery Woodson and Jacoby Mobley. Of course, you have Nick Giles which is his best buddy and a longtime teammate. That’s what has been really good, is seeing how he gets along with everybody.”
While Pollard could be the Lions leading force this season, he could just as easily not play a part at all. Pollard was arrested in June with conspiracy to commit kidnapping after he allegedly delivered tools and served as a driver for his mother Jesse Mae Pollard. If convicted, he could serve a maximum punishment of five years in jail.
However, White said the ongoing investigation has not been a distraction and won’t be as his team continues to focus only on what it can control.
Chances are Pollard plays, and chances are he and the Lions will be special. If so, the spoiled fans of Scooba might want to leave an extra space on the trophy case this spring.