Insider Exposure Media

Covering Prospective Student-Athletes in the SouthEast US and beyond

Southern Challenge Jamboree – Storylines, Predictions & Recap


Clockwise from top – Cheah Rael-Whitsitt (Miami Dade) & Erna Normil (FSW); Ivana Boyd (Santa Fe); Margaret Robinson (Shelton St.); Jade Lewis (NWF); Angela Jernigan (NWF)


Tallahassee, FL – 20 of the top jucos in the southeast plus IMG post grad team traveled to Tallahassee yesterday on FAMU homecoming weekend.  Since the top teams did primarily what you’d expect of them, we thought we’d mix it up a little bit and answer some potentially interesting storylines that may be emerging on the juco scene.

  1. Who will win the Panhandle Conference?  Year in year out this is by far the best juco conference in the country.  Quite frankly there’s no other conference even close.  While the Southwest JCC (Region XIV – East TX) has a number of good teams, not every team is Top 25 caliber like the Panhandle.  In the past 5 or 6 years the Panhandle has had some competitive title races, but usually there’s been a clear cut favorite.  Not this year, the Panhandle is wide open.  Gulf Coast coming off back to back national titles, has lost a bunch and is relying on some key returners to step up, specifically Jhileyah Dunlap & Shayla Bennett.  Kionna Jeter may be the top newcomer in the league.  Chipola has reloaded, as has Tallahassee who also returns starters Jaz Hill & Japonica James.  Pensacola returns a bunch of talent from a team that finally climbed out of the Panhandle basement last season and NWF with new coach Bart Walker is significantly improved.  All 5 of these teams have a legit argument for being ranked in the National Top 25 and all 5 would fair well at the NJCAA National Tournament.  That said I don’t see anyone blowing through the league with an undefeated record.  This year’s Panhandle winner may have 3 or more losses (they play each other 3 times in the regular season).  It’s really difficult to pick against Gulf Coast but I’d lean slightly towards Chipola as my favorite to win the league this year.
  2. Does any non-Panhandle team in Florida Juco have a chance to make the NJCAA National Tournament?  With the NJCAA adding some at large births a few years back, Florida has been rewarded with at least 2 teams going each year to the National Tournament and this year will be no different.  Quite frankly Florida should get 3 or 4 every year, as those 3rd and 4th place teams are better than a number of the teams who actually make the National Tournament.  At the bottom of this article I will give you my FL Juco conference predictions plus my pre-season SE Juco top 10 (which I update weekly throughout the season).  The last few years have seen Daytona, FSCJ, Palm Beach & Eastern Florida break through to some extent.  Each has enjoyed some success vs the Panhandle and had a legit shot to make the NJCAA tournament (Daytona made it in 2015 I believe).   After seeing almost every Florida team the past 2 weeks it looks as though Florida Southwestern is the only team with a remote chance of upending one of the Panhandle teams.  Coach Kristy Ward has a bunch of returning players, none of them are superstars, but they embody her best teams, unheralded kids with a bit of a chip on their shoulder and some toughness and grit.  They have a major D-1 prospect in freshmen Kezia Holmes and if they can get her 100% on board they may be able to upset a team or 2 in the state tournament and grab an at large NJCAA bid.
  3. Is Cierra Johnson, Insider Exposure’s #1 ranked Juco Sophomore heading back to Alabama?  Last year at the Southern Challenge Jamboree I spoke to Cierra and while she seemed fully committed to Alabama, she left the door slightly open to heading elsewhere.  The staff at Alabama obviously made a smart tactical decision placing Johnson at Shelton State which is conveniently located in Tuscaloosa less than 10 miles away.  Last weekend there was some speculation with Alabama not being on hand to watch Cierra & Shelton at the Darton Jamboree that she might be considering other schools.  Yesterday with Kelly Curry in the house, I noticed more than 1 high major school watching Shelton, who has Johnson but probably not anyone else who will play Power 5 level D-1 ball.   The first chance I got once Shelton finished playing I asked Cierra for some scoop and she said it was essentially a done deal, she would be signing with the Crimson Tide in the fall.  All you Alabama fans can breathe a sigh of relief.
  4. Was the conference realignment in Florida good or bad?  On paper this made perfect sense.  Each year with 3 conferences, the state tournament featured an 8 team playoff system and this created a lot of controversy about who should make the tournament and how those teams should be positioned.  Now 2 teams from each conference make the tournament.  This seems like a fair and simple solution on the surface.  In the 10 years I’ve been involved with Florida juco (recruiting as a 4 year school coach, or coaching myself or just covering the league), there have only been a handful of teams south of Orlando that have even had a long shot at beating a panhandle team in the playoffs.  Seeing as how the top 5 teams in Florida are all in the same conference and the southern conference (Miami-Dade, Indian River, Palm Beach, ASA & Broward) may have as many as 3 or 4 of the worst teams in FL, it just doesn’t seem fair.  With the past system, most years saw 3 Panhandle teams make the state tournament with all 3 generally making the final 4.  Now the Panhandle will max out at 2, and if both don’t make the Finals, there’s a strong chance that only 1 will go to National Tournament, meaning the top Florida team and arguably the 6th best Florida team.  To me this seems like a travesty.  There should have been a more fair way to split the teams or at least a better way get the top teams in to the state tournament.

Players to Keep An Eye On – Last weekend we mentioned a number of top players and while many of those same players stood out this weekend, here’s a look for 4 year college coaches at some under the radar players you may want to keep an eye on.

Jamyra McChristine – Fr. – 6′ F – TCC
Ebony Hargrove – So. – 5’10 WF – TCC
Audrey McElhaney – Fr. – 5’10 G/F – Chattahoochee Valley
Jacquence Alson – Fr. – 5’7 PG – Chattahoochee Valley
Namiko Adams – Fr. – 5’8 CG – Chipola
Nana Sule – So. – 6′ PF – Chipola
Shambria Washington – So. – 5’7 PG – Central FL
Brianna Lewis – So. – 5’3 PG – Eastern FL
Erna Normil – So. – 5’9 CG – FSW
Amanda Oliver – So. – 6’1 F – FSW
Kezia Holmes – Fr. – 5’9 G – FSW
Nyamal Pinyien – Fr. – 6’4 Post – FSW
Alexus Dye – Fr. – 6’1 F – Gulf Coast
Crystal Jackson – So. – 6′ PF – Hillsborough
Victoria Johnson – Fr. – 5’8 G – Hinds
LaMiracle Sims – Post Grad – 6′ PF – IMG
Joseline Ramos – Fr. – 5’4 PG – Indian River
Cheah Rael-Whitsitt – So. – 6′ W/F – Miami Dade
Savannah Clark – So. – 6′ W – Miami Dade
Ganette Chism – Fr. – 5’9 PG – Miami Dade
Fanny Paulin – Fr. – 5’11 W/SG – NWF
Taylor Jones – Fr. – 5’8 CG – Palm Beach
Jasmyne May – Fr. – 5’8 PG – Palm Beach
Nia Johnson – So. – 5’7 CG – Pensacola
Tyanna Porter – So. – 5’10 W/SG – Pensacola
Ivana Boyd – So. – 5’7 CG – Santa Fe
Stephanie Jackson – Fr. – 5’10 SG/W – Santa Fe

Florida Predictions –

Panhandle –

  1. Chipola
  2. Gulf Coast
  3. Tallahassee
  4. NWF
  5. Pensacola

Mid Florida –

  1. Central Florida
  2. Daytona
  3. Santa Fe
  4. FSCJ

SunCoast –

  1. FSW
  2. Eastern FL
  3. St. Pete
  4. Hillsborough

Southern –

  1. Miami Dade
  2. Palm Beach
  3. Indian River
  4. Broward
  5. ASA

PreSeason South East Juco Top 10 – We will keep this updated weekly throughout the season

  1. Chipola (FL)
  2. Gulf Coast (FL)
  3. Shelton St. (AL)
  4. Jones Co (MS)
  5. GA Highlands (GA)
  6. Tallahassee (FL)
  7. NWF (FL)
  8. Walters St. (TN)
  9. Pensacola (FL)
  10. East Miss. (MS)

Also in consideration – FSW (FL), Chattahoochee Valley (AL), South GA Tech (GA)

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This entry was posted on October 15, 2017 by .
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