Crozier, WL trio join MC

Published 8:30 pm Sunday, May 19, 2013

West Lincoln basketball fans might consider chartering a bus when the Mississippi College Choctaws tip off their 2013-14 basketball season. West Lincoln seniors Jared Case and Lucas Burris, along with WL grad Jay Case, are joining the MC men’s basketball program. Jay Case played the last two seasons at Copiah-Lincoln Community College.

Another MC signee is Brookhaven center Carey Crozier who will play for MC’s Lady Choctaws.

Crozier, a strong, 6-foot-2 post player, averaged 10.1 points and 6.5 rebounds per game for the Lady Panthers. She was credited with 38 blocked shots.

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“I am excited about MC,” said Crozier. “When I went on a campus visit, I really liked it. It’s big enough to feel like you are in college but it’s small enough to know that you are welcome.”

Crozier will play for Coach Paul Duke

“Coach Duke told me about goals and what he expects of me as a post player,” said Crozier.

She said she was undecided about what career she might pursue. Her father, Billy Crozier, owns an automobile dealership in Vicksburg.

“I’m undecided but I talked to a professor in the business department,” said Crozier. “A business degree will cover a lot of areas.”

Crozier works at the Lincoln County Dixie Youth baseball field this summer. “I grill and run the concession stand.”

She spent her sophomore and junior seasons at Brookhaven Academy before returning to BHS for her final season.

“We are real excited about Carey being a part of our program, said Coach Duke. “We thought she had a lot of potential to come in and play the college game. She has great character and unlimited potential.

“She has the size and smarts,” added Duke. “She has great hands for a big girl. The system we run in basketball is a high-low passing game. We really get the ball inside. She will fit into our system really nice.”

One of MC’s greatest players came from Lincoln County (Enterprise). Lacey Palomarez Kennedy now coaches at Pearl High School. She was a 2-time All-American for the Lady Chocs about 7 years ago.

Asked about adjustments from high school to college basketball, Duke said, “The biggest growing pain is that 30-second (shot) clock. “College is a physical game and players have to adjust.”

West Lincoln center/forward Lucas Burris (6-6, 215) has the physical size, strength and potential to play at the next level. He averaged 11.6 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.2 blocked shots per game in the Bears’ second straight march to the Class 1A State Tournament.

“We had fun during our campus visit,” said Burris. He plans to take courses in pre-engineering. He also was recruited by William Carey University, Co-Lin, Southwest and other junior colleges.

Burris is the son of Tyrone and Mandy Burris.

MC men’s coach Don Lofton, a Brookhaven native, said he was happy to have the West Lincoln trio joining the Choctaws.

“Obviously, we are very exited that they have decided to attend Mississippi College,” said Lofton. “Not only are they good basketball players, they are quality young men. They are the type of athlete we want representing Mississippi College.”

Jay Case (6-2, 160), recognized for his perimeter shooting skills, averaged 11 points per game at Co-Lin. He earned All-South Division honors his sophomore season. He was named the Daily Leader’ All-Lincoln County MVP in 2011.

“I liked the coaches at MC and it was nice up there,” said Case. “It will be good to have some West Lincoln players there, too.

“I already have my schedule made,” added Case. His older sister, Julie, recently graduated from MC with a degree in education. He plans to major in math and education.

“Jay is a really hard worker and he can score from the outside,” said Lofton. “We’ll have him for two years.”

Jared Case (6-0, 160) averaged 14.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.0 steals per game, leading the Bears to a 31-4 record. He was selected the Daily Leader’s Most Valuable Player and Mr. Basketball for a second straight year.

“The coaches talked about using me at point guard,” said Case. “I like the surroundings.”

He said he is undecided on his major in college.

The Cases are the sons of Jason and Mary Karen Case.

“That’s huge to have Jared and Lucas for four years,” said Lofton. “They all play different positions.

“Jared is a very good athlete who can play point guard. Lucas is a good athlete and he is going to get stronger and bigger. To get all three is a big deal for us. We can’t wait to get started.”

Lofton, a Brookhaven native, is starting his 30th year at MC and 10th as head coach. Former MC men’s basketball coach Mike Jones serves as athletic director.

The Choctaws were 15-11 last season and made the American Southwest Tournament field but lost to Concordia (TX), the eventual champion. Lofton said the Chocs will play every ASC team home and home, rather than dividing the schedule by East and West Divisions next season. However, it will require more travel for ASC members.

West Lincoln coach Lane Young has coached both Cases since junior high school. He recognized the contributions they and Burris have made to the program’s high success level.

“MC is getting three good kids with character,” said Young. “They will work hard and play together.”

Young said all three players excel in the classroom, too. “All three have high ACT scores and GPA. They are all-around good students and good athletes.”

Burris and Case both played baseball for the Bears this spring. They also ran cross country. Case was Class 1A state champion as a junior.

MC On D-II Horizon

MC officials expect the NCAA to approve its request for membership in NCAA Division II some time in early July, after many years in D-III. The Choctaws would officially begin D-II membership in 2014-15.

MC officials also plan to become members of the Gulf South Conference, resurrecting many old rivalries, including Delta State.