(Top 4 Teams at the bottom of the page)
Robert Wilson spent 23 years at The Clarion-Ledger/Jackson Daily News as a sportswriter with more than half of those years covering high school sports, mostly in the Metro Jackson area. He helped choose the All-Metro teams in various sports for more than a decade. Wilson rebirthed the team last year and selected Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard All-Metro Jackson Boys and Girls Basketball Teams with 20 players and a Coach and Player of the Year on each team. This is the second annual team. With the help of high school and college coaches, Wilson selected the best players and best coaches for the 2020-2021 season from Hinds, Madison and Rankin Counties. The All-Metro Jackson Girls Basketball Team with Coach and Player of the Year story will run Wednesday.
By Robert Wilson
Callaway’s Daeshun Ruffin and Lanier’s Bo Clark carry a common bond. Both are Jackson Public School boys basketball players who have won a state championship.
Now, the talented duo have another common bond.
Ruffin and Clark have been named the Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Boys Basketball Player and Coach of the Year respectively.
Ruffin, a 5-foot-9 senior guard and an Ole Miss signee, averaged 33.1 points, led Callaway to a 10-1 record and the Class 5A quarterfinals and won the Player of the Year award for the second consecutive season. Ruffin, as a junior, led Callaway to the 5A state championship last season.
Clark, who won a state championship as a player at Murrah in the 1990s, is now a state championship coach as he guided Lanier to the MHSAA Class 4A state title despite missing the last five games of the season with pneumonia and in the hospital.
Ruffin was named a McDonald’s All-American this spring, the first Mississippian to receive the honor since Malik Newman, also of Callaway, was named to the team in 2015. Ruffin is the 18th Mississippian to make the game, which began in 1978, and only the fifth Mississippian in the last 15 years to make the game. Ruffin is the eighth JPS player to make the game. It is one of the most prestigious honors for a high school basketball player. Ruffin is one of 24 players selected for the game, which was not played for the second straight year due to COVID.
Ruffin has also been selected to play in the fourth annual Allen Iverson Roundball Classic May 7-8 in Memphis. He is one of 27 players selected in the game, which is the only All-American game that is being played this year.
Ruffin, rated as rated as the No. 1 player in Mississippi and No. 7 point guard in the country, also averaged 3.2 rebounds, 2.8 steals, 2.0 assists for 10-1 Callaway, which won 30 straight games against Mississippi teams until losing a 90-85, double overtime decision at Lake Cormorant in the 5A quarterfinals. Ruffin had 39 in his final high school game. Ruffin’s 33.1 scoring average would rank sixth in the nation according to MaxPreps if he had played in enough games to qualify.
Ruffin had his No. 24 Callaway Charger jersey retired at the Class 5A, Region 4 Tournament at Callaway. He was named the Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Boys Basketball Player of the Week twice this season. Ruffin finished with 2,541 career points, second place in the storied tradition of great Callaway scorers, only behind Newman, who scored 3,108 from 2011-15. Ruffin passed Deville Smith (2,538 from 2007-11) in his last game. Ruffin is the fourth Callaway boys player to have his jersey retired, joining Newman, Smith and Mario Bland.
Ruffin scored a career-high 50 points against Ridgeland two years ago as a sophomore despite playing just two and half quarters due to senior night.
“Daeshun has consistently dominated his competition this season and over the course of his career,” Sanders said. “He definitely goes down as one of the greatest scorers to ever play in the state of Mississippi. His national footprint gives him a case to be an all-time great. Daeshun is a generational talent who will be irreplaceable. He has put together a stellar career at Callaway. He is the second all-time leading scorer (at Callaway) and only played 11 games his senior year due to COVID.”
“All of my dream accomplishments came true throughout my school years,” Ruffin said. “I’m just blessed and honored to be able to receive all the accolades.
“I think I improved my leadership skills and understanding the game a lot more. Even though we didn’t win the last game, I felt my leadership and understanding of the game is what kept it close despite all the challenges we faced that game.”
Ruffin, the Mississippi Gatorade Player of the Year last season, averaged 26.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.9 steals and led Callaway to a 25-5 record – undefeated against Mississippi teams — and the Class 5A state championship, a No. 1 Mississippi and No. 38 national final ranking by MaxPreps, this past season. Ruffin shot 50 percent from the field, 37 percent from 3-point range (averaging 2.2 per game), and 76.7 percent from the free throw line.
Ruffin burst onto the high school basketball scene as a freshman. He averaged 19.6 points and led Callaway to a 25-6 record and the Class 5A state semifinals. As a sophomore, Ruffin averaged 26.4 points and led the Chargers to a 21-8 record and the 5A state quarterfinals. He took it to another level last season. And so did Callaway, playing in showcase games across the country. Ruffin showed off his game as well. He averaged 30.1 points in eight games across the South. Ruffin had only one game below 27 points with highs of 37 points twice. Callaway had a 5-3 record against some of the best teams in the country and Ruffin going up against some of the best players in the country.
Clark played at Murrah (where he won a state championship under coach Orsmond Jordan), Hinds Community College and Texas Southern before getting into coaching, six years at JPS middle schools and two at Murrah before coming to Lanier and becoming head coach three years ago. This year was a magical one for Clark and Lanier, which finished 18-4 and ended on a 14-game winning streak. Lanier defeated Raymond 64-48 for the Class 4A state championship in an emotional finish for the Lanier team, playing with Clark, who was still hospitalized. After the win, the players lifted a large, framed picture of Clark to show who was the leader of their team. It was the first state title for the Lanier boys since 2007 and a MHSAA record 17th state championship. The Bulldogs also defeated Raymond, a team which had won three consecutive state titles from 2017-2019 and had been in its fifth straight state championship game.
With Clark out, Lanier girls coach Jonas James Jr. became the interim boys head coach and led the team to five straight wins. Lanier assistant boys coaches Rafael Anderson (offense) and Ronald Cox (defense) did the coaching while James handled most of the administrative duties.
“Coach Clark means the world to these guys,” James said. “They gave all they had because they know he cares. He teaches them life skills and lessons that prepared them for this moment and for the future. They refused to be denied because of their relationship with Coach Clark. They did not want to let him down. Coach Clark is their guy. They love him, they respect him and they look up to him.”
Clark and James are like brothers.
“God had His hand on this team the whole time,” James said. “He already knew this would happen. We just needed to believe and work. And they did. All those days they came in early and stayed late. It payed off. Thank you, Lord, for blessing our brother and our team. Nothing but Jesus could allow this to happen to a great coach, a great friend and a great brother.”
Clark is recovering from home now.
“We believe in brotherhood and the boys are like family,” Clark said. “The coaching staff is like brothers. It’s just a family atmosphere.
“It was just satisfying to win a gold ball. It was a goal accomplished. Plus, I wanted to win this for my father, that was another individual goal. My dad has always been at my games and he always supports me.”
Lanier also defeated Raymond 76-64 Jan. 19 at Lanier and was a big confidence builder for the Bulldogs.
“We hadn’t won against Raymond since I’ve been at Lanier,” Clark said. “I just think the boys weren’t scared of them like some of the games in the past. Our guys had better chemistry offensively and defensively than in the past. I just think we were hungry. Raymond is going to play hard so you’ve got to bring your hard hat when you play them.”
Michael Brown, a 6-4 senior and a Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College football signee, was named the MVP of Lanier’s region this year. He averaged 16 points, 12 rebounds and 2 blocked shots this season. Brown made 7 of 7 shots from the field and scored a team-high 14 points in the championship game. Other starters this season were 6-4 senior forward Corterious Shaw, 6-1 senior guard Sacario Hamilton, 6-1 senior guard Shamar Moffett, 5-9 junior point guard Joshua Washington. The top players off the bench were 5-10 senior guard Rodney Burrell and 5-7 junior point guard Damaurian Edwards.
“Michael was the anchor on offense and was so effective on the block and on the boards. He was an animal down there,” Clark said. “Corterious just made everyone better with his superior passing ability. Sacario was our ‘Do everything guy.’ He guarded the other team’s best player and rebounded well. Shamar was ‘the athlete,’ and played well this season. Joshua was our floor general and made sure we got in our sets. Rodney was our sparkplug on defense and was a lockdown defender. Damaurian was our change of pace guy, a jolt of energy, a playmaker.”
Rashad Bolden, St. Andrew’s, 6-0, Senior, Guard
Kimani Hamilton, Clinton, 6-7, Junior, Forward
Josh Hubbard, MRA, 5-9, Sophomore, Guard
Devin Ree, Terry, 6-7, Junior, Forward
Daeshun Ruffin, Callaway, 5-9, Senior, Guard
Devin Carter, Florence, 6-2, Senior, Guard
Tremaine Dixon, Raymond, 5-10, Junior, Guard
Keivion Hunt, Callaway, 5-10, Junior, Guard
Josh Lee, Hartfield Academy, 6-2, Senior, Guard
Jabarie Robinson, Raymond, 6-0, Junior, Guard
Michael Brown, Lanier, 6-4, Senior, Guard
Jamaal Esco, Murrah, 5-11, Senior Guard
Erin Jones, Richland, 6-2, Junior, Guard
Jayme Mitchell Jr., Forest Hill, 6-4, Senior, Forward
Ismail Rashid, Brandon, 6-4, Junior, Forward
Cam Brent, Jackson Prep, 5-8, Junior, Guard
Samarion Grant, Provine, 5-11, Junior, Guard
Allen Hughes, Clinton, 6-2, Junior, Guard
George Marshall, Forest Hill, 6-3, Junior, Guard
Omarrion Walker, Terry, 6-1, Junior, Guard