Southwest Men's Basketball Team Opens 2013-2014 Season
The Southwest men's basketball team will open the 2013-2014 season on November 1 against Victory University JV at the Verties Sails Gymnasium. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m.
New head coach Jerry Nichols, who came to Southwest from 2013 conference and region champion Motlow State Community College, says this season's Saluqi squad "has all the ingredients needed to contend for national recognition. If we stay together and share the basketball, we can make a run to a national championship," said Nichols. The new-look Saluqis have five student-athletes who have already committed to NCAA Division I programs: Chris Hawkins (University of Memphis), DeVante Jones (Middle Tennessee State University), Charles Waters (Arkansas State University) and Jerron Washington and Andre Brown (University of Arkansas-Little Rock).
Although no players return from the 2012-2013 season, the Saluqis still have a wealth of experience. Brown, Hawkins, Jones, Washington, Waters, Perrin Buford, Kevonta Black and Deandre McKinnie all transferred to Southwest from Motlow State. This group played an important role in leading Motlow to a 26-4 record, the TCCAA Region VII championship and a NJCAA national tournament appearance last season. The Saluqis also add key transfers in 6'7" forward Craig Hill from Connors State Community College, who helped lead his team to the national tournament, and 5'10" guard Darius Tomlin, who played for Mississippi Valley State University as a freshman, and was a four-time SWAC player of the week.
The Saluqis have a great nucleus of players led by Hawkins, a 6'6", 245-pound forward who is the reigning Region VII tournament Most Valuable Player, and a first-team All-TCCAA freshman selection. He is considered by many to be one of the top players in the country. Buford, a 6'7" guard, is considered one of the top-30 players in the country, and was also a first-team All-TCCAA performer last season. Jones, a 5'8" point guard, also has a top-100 ranking and was a first-team All-TCCAA selection.
The Saluqis have a great supporting cast in 6'7" Waters, a forward who is relentless on the boards, Brown, a 6'6" forward who has an all-around game, Washington, a 6'4" guard who is a hard-nosed defender, Black, a 5'10" true point guard who was a part-time starter at Motlow State last season, and red-shirt freshman McKinnie, a 6'4" shooter who has a knack for scoring. Otis Devine, a 6'3" guard who played at Southwest in the 2011-12 season, brings athleticism and dynamic scoring ability to the team.
Joining this impressive group of sophomores is a talented group of freshmen. Rasheed Brooks, a 6'6" guard from Mansfield, Ohio, who is already receiving high major NJCAA attention. Dominic Nelson, a 6'10" center from Harlem, New York, brings toughness and is improving daily. The Saluqis have also added area players in twins Jovantae and Lavantae Waldon from Oakhaven High School. Jovantae, 6'7", is a rebounder and defensive presence while Lavantae, 6'6", is a scorer inside.
Photo caption: 2013-2014 Southwest Men's Basketball Team