By Robert Wilson
Germantown’s Madison Booker, Madison-Ridgeland Academy’s Josh Hubbard, and Jackson Academy’s Lakin Laurendine – three of the top players in the country in their respective sports – signed their letters of intent with their college choice Wednesday on national early signing day.
Booker and Hubbard, who both play basketball, signed with Texas and Ole Miss respectively. Laurendine, who plays volleyball, signed with Auburn.
The 6-foot-1 Booker – a starter on two consecutive USA national teams and rated the No. 3 player in the country in the Class of 2023 – will play for former Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer at Texas. Booker chose Texas over Duke and Tennessee.
“Madison is a young lady that I’ve been recruiting for a long time,” said Schaefer, who led Mississippi State to two consecutive national runner-up finishes in his eight seasons in Starkville before going to Texas. “I have watched her play high school and AAU basketball as much as any recruit I have ever signed. Madison may be the best passing wing player I have ever seen. She sees the floor extremely well, much like that of a point guard. She is so unselfish and is a great teammate. Madison can play all three positions on the perimeter, has a big-time jump shot and her athleticism and quickness will allow her to defend at an elite level. She is a fierce competitor, comes from a wonderful family, and we are very excited to welcome her to the Forty Acres.”
Schaefer has led Texas to back-to-back NCAA Tournament Elite Eight appearances in his first two seasons in Austin. Texas won the Big 12 Tournament championship and finished ranked No. 6 in the final Associated Press Top 25 poll. Schaefer was named the national coach of the year in 2018 and 2022. Texas will be joining the SEC for the 2025-2026 season.
“I decided on Texas because I trust Coach Schaefer to help develop me into the best player I can be and also help get to the next level,” Booker said. “I picked Texas also because Coach Schaefer knows how to win.”
“I think the Texas program and coaching staff will be a great fit for her,” Germantown coach Jamie Glasgow said. “I’m not ready for Maddie to leave us, but I can’t wait to see her play for Texas. I’ve always enjoyed speaking with Coach Schaefer. He is a great coach and always very professional. He seems to really care about his players and knows how to get the most out of them. I’m excited that Maddie will get to play for him.”
Booker is one of the best high school players in Mississippi history. She started every game and helped Team USA win the gold medal for the past two years on the 16-and-under and 17-and-under teams. Booker has been the PriorityOne Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Player of the Year for the past two seasons as a sophomore and junior. She was the Mississippi Gatorade Player of the Year as a sophomore.
Booker is rated No. 3 in the country in the Class of 2023 by Blue Star Basketball.
Booker averaged 16.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.1 steals and led Germantown to a 24-7 record and a second straight Girls State Tournament appearance last season as a junior.
Booker – whose father, Carlos, was a 6-10 center for Southern Miss in the 1990s – has made official visits to Duke, Tennessee, and Texas. Recruited by the majority of the best programs in the country, Booker narrowed her college choices down to nine schools – Mississippi State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Connecticut, Duke, Florida State, Louisville, Oregon, and Texas – in September a year ago.
Booker is averaging 17.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocked shots for 5-0 Germantown this season. Germantown’s next game against defending MHSAA Class 4A state champion Choctaw Central Tuesday at Germantown in Gluckstadt.
The 5-foot-11 Hubbard chose Ole Miss over Mississippi State, Seton Hall, Southern Cal, Houston, and Xavier. In addition, Hubbard has Division I offers from Southern Miss, Jackson State, Mississippi Valley State, LSU, Georgetown, Kansas State and New Orleans.
Hubbard is rated as the No. 1 boys basketball player in Mississippi and No. 18 point guard and No. 74 player overall in the country in the Class of 2023 by ESPN. He is rated the No. 1 player in Mississippi and No. 14 point guard and No. 92 player in the country in the Class of 2023 by 247 Sports Composite. He was the 2022 Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Boys Basketball Player of the Year and is a member of the Metro Jackson Preseason Team this fall.
“We’ve been involved with Josh for a long time,” said Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis, who is in his fifth season in Oxford and won SEC Coach of the Year in his first year at Ole Miss, his ninth conference coach of the year award in his 28th season as a head coach. “I think he’s as explosive of an athlete at his position as a point guard as anybody in his class. Josh is a phenomenal shooter, and a fantastic guy. He comes from an unbelievable family, and a really successful and winning program at MRA.”
“Ole Miss is a great program with some new coaches on the staff,” Hubbard said. “Coach Davis not only has great future plans with me, but the team as well. It was very important to be close to home. They have great expectations for this year and the next.”
“Josh has spent many a year getting his game ready for this moment, and it wasn’t that he just had natural talent. He’s worked it. He’s done what it has taken to get to this point,” said MRA coach Richard Duease, who is the national active leader in boys basketball victories and Mississippi’s all-time leader in wins (boys and girls). “He gave up a promising football career. I think he was a Power 5 football player, but he loved basketball. He had several great choices to pick from. Kermit is a great friend of mine and Josh will have a wonderful time there.”
Hubbard averaged 28.8 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals and led MRA to a 33-7 record, a MAIS Class 6A state runner-up finish and an Overall semifinal finish this past season. He broke a 42-year-old record when he became the MAIS career scoring leader, finishing the season with 3,233 career points.
Hubbard, who has started since the eighth grade, became the leading career scorer in MAIS history Feb. 23 when he passed Ken Coghlan, who scored 3,168 points from 1977-1980 at East Rankin Academy.
If Hubbard continues his pace this season, he could become Mississippi’s all-time career leading scorer. Robert Woodard has the record with 4,274 points from 1982-86 at Houlka High. Monta Ellis is second with 4,167 from 2001-2005 at Lanier High.
Hubbard is averaging 21.3 points for 5-1 MRA, which plays against Rossville, Tenn., Christian Monday at MRA in Madison.
The 6-2 Laurendine chose Auburn over Mississippi State, Southern Miss, Missouri State and Samford. Laurendine is a first team AVCA All-American, named the National Volleyball Player of the Year by sblive.com and the 2021 Mississippi Gatorade Volleyball Player of the Year. She led JA to its fourth straight MAIS state championship this fall, a No. 1 ranking in Mississippi and No. 26 in the nation by prepvolleyball.com and No. 1 ranking in Mississippi and No. 9 in the South by USA Today. Laurendine led the Lady Raiders to 51 consecutive wins against MAIS competition and 39 straight wins against Mississippi teams (MAIS and MHSAA).
Laurendine is the No. 1 ranked recruit in Mississippi in the Class of 2023 according to MaxPreps, rated as one of the Top 23 players in the country in the Class of 2023 by volleyballrecruiter.com and is ranked the No. 46 player in the country in the Class of 2023 by prepvolleyball.com.
“We are thrilled to welcome Lakin to the Auburn Family and volleyball program. She is an A-plus person and a talented student-athlete,” Auburn volleyball coach Brent Crouch said. “But what makes Lakin special is her commitment to our culture, work ethic and values. She will fit right in and will push us toward our goal of permanently establishing a nationally recognized and competitive program. Lakin is a well-rounded 6-rotation outside hitter. The ability to perform all the fundamental skills at a high level is uncommon, and every elite team has at least a couple of these types of players.”
“I knew I wanted to stay in the South, and I knew I wanted to be a part of a team that felt like a family and without a doubt, Coach Brent and his coaching staff immediately made Auburn feel like home,” Laurendine said. “I knew from the start that that was a program and university I wanted to be a part of. I have worked my whole life for that moment (to sign with a college). For Coach Brent to give me this opportunity has been the biggest blessing. I love everything about Auburn, from the atmosphere to the program and I cannot wait to be there for the next four years.”
“Lakin is the full package as a student-athlete,” JA coach Melissa Denson said. “She’s a true six rotation outside who can score from anywhere on the court. Lakin is a solid passer and defender. She provides a big block on the net and has the ability to score in almost any situation. Lakin doesn’t make a lot of errors. She hits with so much power but also has the IQ to know when to tip or roll. Lakin is a leader and just fun to coach and be around. She brings a certain energy to the court that makes the level of play around her increase. Lakin’s a great teammate.”
Laurendine had a Mississippi record 2,712 kills, 2,055 digs, 441 aces, 168 blocks and 31 assists during her high school career.
Laurendine’s mother, Shawna, is the volleyball coach at Mississippi College and her father, Tommy, is the offensive coordinator on MC’s football staff.