Follie Bogan, Jermario Hersey are two Ole Brook alums shining at the next level

Published 10:00 am Wednesday, January 31, 2024

The winding road to finding their college basketball homes has two Brookhaven High alums, Lafollette “Follie” Bogan and Jermario Hersey, making big contributions to their current teams in 2024.

Bogan, a 2019 graduate of Brookhaven High who was named The Daily Leader All-Area MVP as a senior, is playing at Milligan University in Milligan, Tennessee.

Hersey graduated from BHS a year later in 2020 and was a big part of Copiah-Lincoln CC winning the MACCC state title last season. Hersey now plays at Belhaven University in Jackson where he’s filling a similar role to the ones he played for the Panthers and Wolves.

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Like Hersey, Bogan began his career via the community college route, playing first at Southwest Mississippi Community College in Summit.

After graduating from Southwest, Bogan moved on next to suit up two seasons at Lees-McRae College, an NCAA Division II program in Banner Elk, North Carolina. He played in 28 games as a junior and 19 games, with three starts, last season at Lees-McRae.

With one more season of eligibility left, Bogan joined Milligan as a graduate transfer and got back to doing what he did so well as a Brookhaven High Panthers, scoring the basketball.

Through 18 games this season, Bogan is stuffing the stat line for the Milligan Buffaloes. He’s averaging 23.9 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists for the NAIA program.

Bogan has filled it up since the start of the season, scoring 35 points in the opener on Nov. 4 to help put Milligan past Division II Union University in Jackson, Tennessee.

He topped that with 38 points later in the season in another win over Union, this one coming by a 105-93 final score.

Bogan has eclipsed the 30-point mark five times this season for the Buffaloes, who are 8-10 overall and 8-8 in Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC) play. He’s been named AAC player of the week three times this year.

Milligan is led by longtime head coach Bill Robinson, who has twice taken the Buffaloes to the NAIA national tournament in his 15 years at the school.

“Follie is an elite scorer, having the ability to score at all three levels,” said Robinson. “We knew he could get to the rim and score with both hands, but his three-point shooting, and mid-range game has been better than we expected.”

During his senior season at Brookhaven High, Bogan averaged 21.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game for a 21-8 squad that reached the second round of the MHSAA 5A playoffs.

As opposing defenses at the collegiate level focus on stopping him at the basket, Robinson says Bogan has shown he can do more than just score the ball.

“What has made him special this season has been his ability to get his teammates involved on the offensive end as well,” said Robinson. “He is also currently leading the team in assists and rebounds. I have really enjoyed getting to know him off the court, too. He has a great future ahead of him on and off the basketball court.”

Milligan is a 10-hour drive from Brookhaven and is located on the eastern edge of Tennessee, near the North Carolina state line.

It’s a much shorter drive for Hersey’s family to see him play, just up Highway 55 and off the Fortification Street exit, at Belhaven University.

If you go to Belhaven’s website and pull up Hersey’s bio from the roster, there is a slide show of images that play across the top of the page.

If you’ve ever seen him play, then it’s not surprising that each photo of Hersey is one involving him hanging on the rim in various states of dunking the basketball.

Hersey earned a reputation as a high-flyer during his time at Brookhaven High and then only boosted that rep during three years of playing for Co-Lin in Wesson.

The Wolves won the MACCC state championship last season and Hersey’s play had a big impact in making that happen. Splitting the season with starting half the games and then coming off the bench in the other half, Hersey averaged 15.4 points and 4.7 rebounds per night in 24 total games.

An absolute menace running the baseline for a lob, the 6-foot-4 Hersey shot 46 percent from the floor last season for CLCC head coach David Sanders.

Following his time in Wesson, Hersey inked with Belhaven and head coach Josh Brooks. Brooks was a long-time assistant coach at Mississippi College earlier in his career and bringing Hersey and his athleticism to Belhaven was a big goal for him during the recruiting process last year.

Hersey, Brooks and Belhaven are 13-7 overall and 5-3 in their conference, the Collegiate Conference of the South (CCS). The Blazers haven’t been beaten by much in those defeats, losing by an average of five points per game.

Like he did at Co-Lin, Hersey has come off the bench and been a big factor for the Blazers. He’s averaging 21.7 minutes per game and is shooting 57 percent from the floor while chipping in 9.7 points and 3.6 rebounds per night.

“Jermario has made a huge impact for us this season,” said Brooks. “He is such an unselfish player and has really embraced his role as a spark plug off the bench. When he comes in, he brings defensive intensity and rebounding. He has also been an extremely efficient player on offense. He lets the game come to him.”

Jordan Marshall, another Co-Lin alum, is averaging 12.9 points per game for the Blazers.

Belhaven went 15-12 last season, the first under Brook’s leadership. The Blazers lost a close game to host Maryville in the CCS tournament finals.

Brooks upgraded the talent within his program by snagging Hersey and a couple other veteran JUCO products. He’s excited to see how far Hersey and this group can make go as the postseason draws closer.

When you think of a “glue guy” in basketball, the ones who help hold the team together, you’re thinking about a player like Hersey.

“Most importantly, Jermario is a great teammate,” said Brooks. “He genuinely cares about the success of the team over his own individual accolades.”