Gaffney brings back six freshmen
Panama City, FL: With recruiting efforts limited by the COVID-19 outbreak and further muddied by a one-off NCAA rule eliminating test score requirements for Division-I prospects, Gulf Coast coach Phil Gaffney is in possession of what is always a valuable commodity in JUCO basketball, though perhaps never more than now: continuity.
That’s because the Commodores have signed all six of their freshmen to return as sophomores for the 2019-20 season.
Starters Travon Mayo, Derrick Hardin, and Davonta Cook will be back, as will reserves Jammy Pierre-Louis, Kaylein Marzette, and Nolan Causwell, along with former Bay High star Zamuel Compere, who redshirted last season.
“Yeah, that’s huge,” Gaffney said of his returning core. “I usually only have one
or two back a year and usually get a lot more Division I transfers, so this is crazy
to have six guys plus Zam and to have three starters back from a state championship
team that won a state title and was playing as well as anybody at the end of the year.
“It’s an unbelievable amount of experience to get back in JUCO basketball or any level of basketball. It’s huge for us to have those guys back knowing our system and knowing everything that’s going, it makes stuff a lot easier.”
Mayo, a 6-foot-4 guard, averaged 7.2 points per game and shot 40.2 percent from the 3-point line as a freshman while also serving as the team’s top perimeter defender.
Pierre-Louis, a 5-11 guard, was the top 3-point sniper for the Commodores last season, making 40.5 percent on four long-range attempts per game, and helped get Gulf Coast into the state tournament by knocking in a season-high seven triples in a triple-overtime victory over Tallahassee in the regular season finale.
Cook started started 13 games at point guard as a freshman, taking over for sophomore starter KK Godwin after his injury in the first Panhandle Conference game of the season, and averaged nine points and three assists at the state tournament.
Hardin, a 6-8 post player, started 26 of 29 games and averaged four points and four rebounds, while 6-4 wing Kaylein Marzette averaged four points while appearing in 30 games.
Gulf Coast has already signed two freshmen in 6-9 Nigerian post player Simeon German and 6-6 combo forward DeMariontay Hall.
Gaffney said the plan was to add three or four players more to fill out the roster, though having nine spots already filled means there’s no great rush to finish the class.
“We can afford to be a little picky right now,” he said. “We’re not really tied to one spot. It would be nice to maybe get a point guard, a wing, and a big, but we’re really just waiting to see what’s out there and what’s available and go from there. Last year, I don’t think we had anybody signed at this time and now we have nine, so we’ll just take our time and get three really good ones.”