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Hinds basketball coach selected for prestigious TopConnect symposium

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HInds basketball coach Yusef Fitzgerald, kneeling. (photo courtesy Hinds CC by Tracy Duncan)

Hinds Community College head men’s basketball coach Yusef Fitzgerald has been selected to participate in the inaugural TopConnect NJCAA symposium set for Oct. 8 and 9. The inaugural class has 30 head men’s basketball coaches and 11 head women’s basketball coaches participating in this prestigious event.

“This is a blessing,” Fitzgerald said in a statement. “My mission as a coach has always been to help as many kids as I possibly can because I was once one of those kids who needed help, guidance and a mentor. Being selected to participate in this event provides me with incredible platform to reach even more kids who are in the same shoes I was once in.”

TopConnect (formerly Villa 7) originated in 2003 by Dr. Richard Sander, then the athletic director at Virginia Commonwealth University. The program identifies the top basketball coaches in the country and connects them with midmajor athletic directors providing tremendous networking opportunities for both parties. The three-word mantra of “Connect Prepare Lead.” identifies the purpose of TopConnect.

“This is also a testament to what we’re trying to do at Hinds Community College and within our basketball program,” Fitzgerald said. “This is not just about the X’s and O’s of basketball. It shows what we’re trying to do is different, better and purposeful. We are providing kids an institution of higher character. I also want to express my appreciation, because none of this would be possible without the support from everyone at Hinds and within our community.”

The presenters for the inaugural TopConnect NJCAA include former junior college coaches Buzz Williams (formally Navarro College, now Texas A&M), Steve Forbes (formally Northwest Florida State College, now Wake Forest), Brian “Penny” Collins (formally Columbia State CC, now Tennessee State), Jay Ladner (formally Jones County JC, now Southern Miss), Dr. Brittney Ezell (formally Okaloosa-Walton Junior College, now East Tennessee State), Chris Jans (formally Chipola College, now New Mexico State), Keitha Adams (formally Independence CC, now Wichita State), Ryan Ridder (formally Daytona State College, now Bethune-Cookman) and Chanda Rigby (formally Pensacola State College, now Troy). In addition to the former junior college coaches speaking, a panel of Division 1 AD’s will discuss their expectations of a coaching staff, and a panel of current Division 1 assistant coaches will share their thoughts on their transition from Junior College to their current roles.

In total, three panels of current Division 1 head coaches will speak of their experiences on maintaining success once hired at the Division 1 level, making the jump to D1 from junior college and overall career development. Also, NJCAA President and CEO Dr. Chris Parker and Brandon Goble, CEO of JUCOAdvocate, will hold a conversation on breaking the stigma of junior college.

Since the inception of TopConnect, the program has produced numerous Division 1 head coaches including Anthony Grant (Dayton), Buzz Williams (Texas A&M), Shaka Smart (Texas), Steve Forbes (Wake Forest), and recently Greg Gary (Mercer), Brett Nelson (Holy Cross) and Bryan Mullins (Southern Illinois).

TopConnect works in conjunction with East Tennessee State University’s Doctoral Program in Global Sport Leadership and is a subsidiary of Connected Media, LLC.

For further information, visit the Top Connect website or email Dr. Richard Sander at [email protected].

Sports

PCA player Gage Ashley shines on offense and defense

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Gage-Ashley-taken-by-Carrie-Martin

Porter’s Chapel Academy football player Gage Ashley led the Eagles in rushing yards and tackles Friday in a conference game against Greenville Christian.

Although the Eagles lost the game 59-0, Ashley still managed to have a good game on both offense and defense.

Ashley carried the ball seven times for 42 yards on offense, and managed to rack up seven tackles and a sack.

Ashley has been shining all season for the Eagles, who are having their best season in over three years.

The Eagles will face Glenbrook this Friday, and Ashley will need another big night to help PCA win to keep their playoff hopes alive.

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Thompson and Riggs top quarterbacks in Vicksburg and Warren County

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(photo courtesy K. Thompson and J. Riggs)

Warren Central quarterback Kentrick Thompson and Porter’s Chapel Academy quarterback Jace Riggs are the two top quarterbacks in Vicksburg and Warren County as of this week.

Thompson is leading statistically for the two public schools in the Vicksburg area. He has an overall of six touchdowns on the season, and the Vikings remain undefeated.

Riggs, who is in his first season as starting quarterback for the Eagles, is leading for the private schools in the area. He has made seven touchdowns, and PCA maintains a 4-4 record.

Both have stepped up for their teams this year, and each week they continue to improve.

Riggs and PCA will face Glenbrook this Friday at home starting at 7 p.m., and the Vikings have an off week.

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Sims racked up eight tackles in his college debut

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Vicksburg native and Hinds Community College football player Malik Sims made eight tackles in his college football debut Thursday night.

In the game against Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Sims came in second with tackles for the Eagles as they lost 31-24 against the defending national championship team.

Sims was a key player in the game, and he was seen all over the field stopping defenders. He is mostly known for his great tackling ability, which started when he was a Warren Central Viking playing under head coach Josh Morgan.

Sims and the Eagles will be at home this coming Thursday as they face the Jones County CC Bobcats.

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