Puckett’s Rose Warren made history a few months ago when she became the second girls basketball player in school history to sign a Division I scholarship, signing during the NCAA early signing period with Southern Miss.
Warren, a 5-foot-10 senior point guard, received another historic honor this past week when she became the second from the Class 2A Rankin County school to be named to the Mississippi team for the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star girls basketball game.
Warren is averaging 24.1 points, 10.4 rebounds, 9.4 assists, 3.4 steals and 2.1 blocks and is shooting 90 percent from the free throw line this season. She has led Puckett to an 18-1 record. She averaged 20.2 points, 10.2 assists, 8.4 rebounds, 3.2 steals and 1.2 blocks and led Puckett to a 29-4 record and a Class 2A semifinal finish last year.
“Rose loves to be in the gym working on her game. She has amazing court vision and is our floor general,” Puckett said Holly Moncrief said. “She can create her own shot and get to the basket with ease. Rose is a great leader on and off the court. She has been playing ball from a young age. Her mom (Melanie Smith Warren) played at Wallace State (Ala.). I knew in the seventh grade she was going to be special. Rose has definitely exceeded all my expectations.”
Warren was also a star for Puckett in volleyball. Her versatility and athletic ability was attractive to Southern Miss.
“Rose has played point guard in high school and we believe that will better prepare her to enjoy success in college,” Southern Miss coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. “She has had to handle the pressure of very good on-ball defenders while leading her team and being the No. 1 scoring option. She has played in the summer for MTP-Most Want It (AAU team) who has competed against the highest level of competition in tournaments in the southeast. Rose brings the ability to shoot the ball from long range. Her quick release and ability to pass the ball will make her an offensive threat. Rose has developed her game through being a gym rat and her genuine love for the game.”
The other Puckett alumnus to sign Division I basketball was Shanice Mayes, who played at Southern Miss from 2007-09. The other Puckett alum to play in the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star game is Kelley Allen in 2014.
The Mississippi-Alabama All-Star game is scheduled for March 13 at Mississippi College’s A.E. Wood Coliseum in Clinton.
Warren and Puckett look to improve its Class 2A, Region 5 record to 4-0 and go for their 11th straight win when they travel to Heidelberg Friday night.
Murrah boys basketball has one of the most tradition rich programs in Mississippi and first-year coach J.J. Washington is going to teach his team about the history of the program and also try to uphold the winning ways of Mustang basketball.
“When you walk into our gym one must respect and honor the traditions of all the championship banners and pictures of former standout players and coaches,” Washington said. “We aren’t going to be 37-2. That’s not a realistic goal because we don’t have a bunch of (former Mississippi Players of the Year) Jesse Pates and Othello Harringtons on this team. But we can improve ourselves by coming to work hard every day and trusting the process. We don’t want to be known as the Murrah team that didn’t live up to their expectations and came up short.”
Washington, who played football and baseball at Lanier and graduated in 2006, knows all about the great history of Jackson Public Schools basketball, especially Lanier and Murrah. Former Mississippi Player of the Year Jerry Nichols of Lanier used to hang out at Washington’s house and went to high school with NBA star Monta Ellis, who was named National Player of the Year as a senior at Lanier and who many believe is the greatest player in JPS history. Washington saw many of the state championship teams Thomas Billups coached at Lanier. Billups, now coaching Tougaloo College, won eight state titles in his 22 years at Lanier. Washington also can rattle off names like Pate, Harrington, James Robinson, Ronnie Henderson, Mo Williams, Trey Johnson and many more who starred on Murrah Drive. Washington’s grandfather was friends with legendary Murrah coach Orsmond Jordan, who coached at Murrah from 1971-1994 and won an amazing 79 percent of his games.
Murrah has won five state titles, the last one in 2013.
Washington honored former Murrah star player Ryan Lothridge at the Orsmond Jordan Classic in November by giving him a framed No. 4 Murrah jersey (Lothridge’snumber). Washington wants to honor a former Murrah boys basketball player each year.
Washington, who played football at East Mississippi Community College and then baseball at Jackson State, coached in Texas before coming back to Mississippi. He was an assistant to Wayne Brent as Jackson State for two years and to Randy Bolden at Jones County Junior College for one year before taking over for Luther Riley at Murrah this season.
Washington has two returning starters – 5-11 junior point guard Jamaal Esco and 6-6, 250-pound junior forward Joseph Dupree – from last year’s team that finished 15-13. Esco is averaging 12 points and eight assists. Dupree is averaging a team-high 17 points. The top new starter is 6-6 senior forward Kenard Bowie, who averages 16 points and 11 rebounds. Washington also had to overcome nine players who transferred to other schools off last year’s team.
“I am trying to instill a culture of team instead of a me attitude here at Murrah,” Washington said. “I want our players to believe in one another.”
Murrah has a 10-7 record so far this year and won its first Class 6A, Region 4 game Tuesday night with a 74-60 victory over Warren Central. Murrah visits Madison Central Friday night in another region game.
St. Andrew’s plays host to the MLK Day Rumble in the South next Monday at its 1,200-seat Athletic and Recreation Center in Ridgeland.
Eight boys basketball games featuring 16 of the top public and private schools from Mississippi and six of The Clarion-Ledger Dandy Dozen (Rashad Bolden of St. Andrew’s, Alijah Martin of North Pike, Caleb McGill of Petal, Keondre Montgomery of Forest Hill, Daeshun Ruffin of Callaway, and Treylan Smith of Petal. Other players to watch are Damarion Arrington of Wingfield, Will Grayson of Yazoo City, Josh Hubbard of Madison-Ridgeland Academy, Josh Lee of Velma Jackson, Decorian Payton of Center Hill, Kearuis Stimage of Raymond, Wenton Walker of Jackson Academy and KylerYarborough of Meridian.
The schedule for Monday is Jackson Academy vs. Yazoo City at 9:30 a.m., Heritage Academy vs. North Pike at 11 a.m., MRA vs. Velma Jackson at 12:30 p.m., Forest Hill vs. Meridian at 2 p.m., Starkville vs. Center Hill at 3:30 p.m., St. Andrew’s vs. Brandon at 5 p.m., Callaway vs. Petal at 6:30 p.m. and Wingfield vs. Raymond at 8 p.m.
This is the 13th year for the event and third year for St. Andrew’s to host. It was previously hosted by Mississippi College in Clinton.
“We are honored to be the host of the MLK Rumble in the South for the third consecutive year,” St. Andrew’s coach Brian Cronin said. “Not only is it an excellent showcase for the state’s top high school teams and athletes it allows basketball fans from all over Mississippi to come together and celebrate MLK’s vision that people will ‘not be judged by the color of their skin, but the content of their character.’”