Mendenhall star tops list of Co-Lin signees

Published 5:00 am Monday, May 26, 2003

WESSON – Mendenhall center Emanuel Willis is one of several theprize recruits who have signed basketball scholarships withCopiah-Lincoln Community College. Willis is a 6-foot-7 tower ofpower and Co-Lin men’s coach Dennis Sims expects him to make animmediate contribution as a freshman.

Also signed by Sims are guard Brandon Caston and forward DexterMiddleton of Brookhaven, forward Luke Lofton of West Lincoln, andforward Derrick Martin of Natchez.

“Emanuel was one of the preseason top five seniors in thestate,” Sims pointed out. “He signed early with Southern Miss.”

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Willis was unable to muster the required ACT score and corpscurriculum grades to be eligible as a freshman at USM. Sims washappy to have him sign with Co-Lin.

“Academically, things have not worked out for Willis,” saidSims. “To our advantage, he has decided to come to Co-Lin.

“I don’t believe I have ever recruited someone with his runningand jumping ability. Folks will love to come see him play.”

Sims said he has been pleased with the latest recruiting class.”We are excited about what we’ve done so far. We have got to getthem here and have them working hard.”

Caston, a 5-10 point guard, averaged 12.5 points and 2.3 assistsper game for Coach Ronald Hines, helping lead the Panthers to theDivision 6-4A Tournament championship. He is recognized forquickness and dribbling skills.

“Brandon from the very beginning, was a young man we wanted inthis program,” said Sims. “For the last two years we have neededquickness and speed at point guard. He has another gear that he canaccelerate. He really improved this year in his shooting.”

Middleton, a 6-3 leaper, was a key to Brookhaven’s successful,late-season surge. He averaged 11.4 points and 3.9 rebounds pergame. as the Panthers posted at 25-6 record. He was namedBrookhaven’s MVP.

“Dexter is a great leaper and he runs the floor like a deer,”said Sims. “We can play him at either guard or forward. Hisgreatest asset is that he comes from a program that plays teambasketball.”

Coach Hines said Middleton made a wise choice in selectingCo-Lin. He also was heavily recruited by Southwest.

“Dexter is a good student and a candidate for the National HonorSociety,” said Hines. “I’m glad he chose Co-Lin.”

Lofton, a powerful, 6-3 inside player, also could shoot the treyfrom the outside He averaged 20.3 points, 11.8 rebounds, 3.6 stealsand 3.2 assists per game for Coach Lane Young’s West Lincoln Bears,leading them to the Division 7-1A Tournament championship.

“Luke gives us a young man who can work with inside andoutside,” said Sims. “He’s extremely athletic and jumps well. Hecan come in and play several different positions for us. He isversatile.”

Martin, at 6-3, played forward his junior year when Natchezadvanced to the semifinals of Class 5A state tournament. He waspressed into playing the post position as a senior.

“Derrick had to play the post for them this year,” said Sims.”We look for him to play forward for us. He’s under control and hasvery good fundamental skills. He can play on the perimeter, if needbe.”

Sims said he plans to sign a few more district players and twoout-of-staters. “We feel like we can do a good job there, too.”

Co-Lin completed the season with a 10-14 record and failed tomake the state tournament. Leading scorers Jason Scott and JeremyCollier both graduated.