POPLARVILLE, Miss. — The reigning No. 1 seed in the NJCAA Tournament will be well represented in Atlanta this summer when some of the best JUCO basketball players in the country converge on the city to compete in the All-American JUCO Showcase.
The Pearl River basketball team is sending Joe Cooper (Olive Branch), Earl Smith (Jackson; Provine), Damerius Wash (Canton), Jariyon Wilkens (Biloxi) and Jaronn Wilkens (Biloxi).
The Showcase is set for Aug. 7-9 and is open to 2021 graduates.
The event, which bills itself as "the most exclusive JUCO Showcase in the U.S." is invite-only.
The Showcase offers a number of opportunities for the student athletes, including exposure to four-year coaches and competition against some of the best players in the U.S.
As part of the Showcase, each student athlete will play in up to four games.
"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 and NJCAA Coach of the Year Chris Oney said.
Earl and the Wilkens twins were crucial players for the Wildcats' second consecutive Region XXIII Championship in 2020. Smith averaged 6.6 points with 2.0 assists and 1.9 rebounds. Both Wilkens scored at a 5.6 ppg clip, while Jaronn averaged 4.1 rebounds and Jariyon pulled in 2.9. Jariyon was also tied for third on the team with 1.1 steals per game.
Cooper was a standout at MHSAA powerhouse Olive Branch before graduating early and redshirting at PRCC last season.
Wash, who prepped at Canton High, transferred to PRCC after averaging 16.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists for Daytona State College.
Kelvin Allen (Olive Branch), Eric Thornton Jr.(Canton; Murrah) and C.J. Brim (Tupelo; Shannon) all attended showcases over the last two offseasons, including the Mullens Top 100 and JUCO Advocate. Allen signed with Rogers State last month, while Thornton is at Jackson State and Brim was an important player for North Alabama in 2019-20.
Because of the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, the invitational has implemented a number of safety measures, which can be found at JUCOShowcase.com.
Wildcats have already started picking up offers. Smith recently landed an offer from Southern Miss, while freshman Josh Mitchell (Tupelo) has earned an offer from Bryant.