CHARLOTTE, N.C. – East Mississippi Community College had a school-record 30 student-athletes plus four teams garner national recognition for their academic excellence achieved during this past school year. The NJCAA's 2018-19 Academic Teams of the Year and All-Academic Student-Athlete Awards were announced Monday by the national office.
In bettering the previous school mark of 26 individual academic honorees set three years ago, EMCC featured a dozen student-athletes who made the NJCAA All-Academic First Team for having 4.00 grade point averages during the 2018-19 academic year. The 12 perfect marks doubled the previous school standard of six 4.00 GPAs recorded a year ago by EMCC's student-athletes.
EMCC's softball team, under the guidance of head coach Austin McNair, continued to rate among the nation's top programs academically by ranking 13th nationally and second among MACJC softball teams with a 3.52 collective team GPA this past year. The Lady Lions have now reached the 3.50 team GPA mark or higher four consecutive years and six times in the last seven seasons.
Head coach Brett Kimbrel's EMCC baseball team established a new program standard with a 3.39 team grade point average that ranked 11th nationally and topped all MACJC baseball clubs. The 2019 Lions also made school history by having nearly half of their 30-man baseball roster achieve NJCAA All-Academic status. Leading the way for EMCC's 14 academic recipients were six baseball players with perfect 4.00 GPAs on the year – Austin Campbell, Jeremy Davis, Treven Knight, S.T. McMurrian, Frederic Reynolds and Jackson Rogers.
Additionally among East Mississippi's team ranks this past academic year, head coach Sharon Thompson's Lady Lion basketball squad earned NJCAA honorable mention academic status for the third consecutive year with a 3.04 team GPA in 2018-19 to rank third among MACJC women's basketball teams. Also on the hardwood, head coach Billy Begley's MACJC state championship men's basketball team earned a 3.01 grade point average to stand 14th nationally and second among MACJC men's hoops programs.
Though not affiliated with the NJCAA, head coach Morgan Goodrich's EMCC rodeo team posted a 3.27 collective grade point average this past academic year. In addition, on the heels of garnering NJCAA Football Academic Team of the Year accolades a year ago, head coach Buddy Stephens' two-time reigning national champions posted a 2.83 team GPA for the 2018-19 school year.
Softball utility player Avery Bouchillon headlined EMCC's school-record 30 NJCAA All-Academic Student-Athletes with her cumulative 4.00 grade point average achieved during her two-year stint on the Scooba campus. The Ethel product, who earned EMCC's Presidential Partnership Scholarship to attend Mississippi State University, was one of five Lady Lion softball players to compile 4.00 GPAs. Bouchillon was joined on this year's NJCAA All-Academic First Team by teammates Lilly Burton, Kelsey English, Riley Huckaby and Kat Reeves.
Also receiving NJCAA academic recognition for EMCC's baseball team were second-team members Gage Pierce (3.90) and Josh Smith (3.81), who was a kicker/punter during the fall on the gridiron and then played outfield and pitched during the spring on the baseball diamond. The Lions' third-team academic baseball recipients were Jaxen Forrester (3.73), Carter Bentley (3.65), Dillon Brown (3.65), Brendan Logan (3.64), Chance Denson (3.62) and Philip Martin (3.61).
Rounding out the EMCC softball team's nine academic honorees were second-teamers Hadlee Lewis (3.81) and Megan Cummins (3.80) along with third-team picks Candace Jefferson (3.67) and Mackenzie Dolan (3.61).
Honorable mention NJCAA All-America quarterback Messiah deWeaver, now at Old Dominion University, paced EMCC's five football academic selections with his 4.00 GPA, while teammates DJ Clayton (3.82), Josh Smith (3.81), Braden Boykin (3.64) and Matt Toles (3.64) also earned NJCAA academic recognition.
The Lady Lion basketball team featured second-team academic honoree Brianna Page (3.90) along with third-teamers Pleasure King (3.79) and Tia Daniels (3.76).