This past week has been a busy one in the D1 Nation with two of our alumni transferring, another had NBA Pre-Draft workouts, and yet another committed to play college basketball. Congratulations to all these young men as they continue their basketball journey in the immediate future.
Lefty guard Jashire Hardnett (Gulfport, MS) touched base with me a month ago and asked if I'd help him with his next step. He'd initially signed with Fordham University out of high school, red shirted that year and then decided to go back to Junior College, pick up his Associates Degree and see what suitors lined up for him.
After all he did lead power house Junior College Chipola (FL) in scoring 13 ppg while running the PG spot on a talented team that had a bevy of double digit scorers. In short, he knows how to run a team, while still giving a dual threat to "get his" as well.
At 5'11" it's tough for guards to get looks no matter how good their stat line is. After getting many bites for him but nobody swallowing the hook, I'd like to congratulate Jashire as he's signed with mid-major power Brigham Young University.
Provo's a long way from home, but there's no doubt in my mind that he will have success there. He's going to bring that Mississippi grit to the West Coast. Jashire is eligible to play immediately and will have three years left to play. He give the D1 Nation continuity in running the point at BYU as recently graduated L.J. Rose did so last year for the Cougars. He was coached by Isaac Amedee (who s now the Head Coach at Clarendon College), while playing for the Memphis D1 Ambassadors.
Things have come full circle in 4 year for Guard Cullen Neal (Albuquerque, NM/El Dorado) as he has just committed to Saint Mary's College in the West Coast Conference. Neal originall committed to SMC and Coach Randy Bennett out of high school, but once his dad, Craig "Noodles" Neal was promoted to Head Coach of the New Mexico Lobos, Cullen decided to play for his dad.
Neal had a productive freshman year, had a medical redshirt year awarded after ankle surgery, and in his 3rd and final season at New Mexico averaged double digits in scoring. He graduated in three years, moving to Ole Miss in the SEC where he averaged 9.2 ppg.
Again as a 5th year grad transfer he is now headed to the West Coast Conference where every year the Gaels have their work cut out for them vs Gonzaga. WIth both BYU and Saint Mary's returning four starters from each team look for this to be the year that one of the two upsets the Gonzaga Bulldogs for the WCC crown. Neal will be eligible to play immediately this fall.
He was coached in AAU by Alvin Meadors and Malik Waters, with the New Mexico D1 Ambassadors.
What a journey it's been for Point Guard T.J. Williams (Pflugerville, TX). I first met him and his dad, Tim back when he was in the 3rd grade. He was such a quiet little kid but he had a gift when the basketball was in his hands. I watched him regularly through the years and as a freshman his dad brought him to us, with the Texas D1 Ambassadors.
As a 9th grader at 5'7" sometimes he was overwhelmed physically but he never complained he just kept working....and growing. Fast forward through a great career at Pflugerville High School where he played for Mike Murphy and David Raigosa. By the time he graduated he was 6'2" and still growing.
He committed to Northeastern, keeping alive the legacy started there by fellow Texas D1 Ambassador Joel Smith who earned All League Honors. Williams was a starter as a true freshman, and in this past senior year was #12 in the NCAA in scoring, averaging over 20 ppg,while still being a facilitator at the lead guard position.
My phone was ringing off the hook by NBA executives and scouts wanting me to fill in their blanks in reference to his character, work ethic etc. I was happy to oblige. Williams is now just a shade below 6'4" while standing in his sock feet and is poised for a great pro career. He just recently worked out for the Los Angeles Lakers. Great things to come, T.J. !
He was coached in AAU by Chip Ivany and Judy Jones with the Texas D1 Ambassadors.
Congratulations go out to 2017 Jamuare Gregg (El Paso, TX/Americas) who has committed to play at Division II Midwestern State (TX).
Gregg, a 6'6" power forward plays hard at all times and is above the rim. Very aggressive player on the boards. He competes at all times, showing a great motor and toughness. He was a pleasure to have on the Texas-D1 Ambassadors-El Paso squad coached by Manny Hernandez.