The Southeastern Louisiana and Jackson State mens’ basketball teams will meet in an exhibition game at 7 p.m. Thursday at Gulfport’s Bert Jenkins Gymnasium to raise funds for flood and hurricane relief on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
The cost of admission is $5 and all proceeds will go to the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Biloxi.
The NCAA ruled on Oct. 18 that Division I basketball programs could schedule an extra exhibition game against another Division I program if the proceeds went to hurricane relief.
Southeastern coach Jay Ladner liked the idea and jumped at the chance, even talking with LSU head coach Will Wade about the possibility of playing an exhibition. Instead, Ladner got in touch with Jackson State coach Wayne Brent and they agreed to make it work.
Ladner pitched the idea to Gulfport athletic director Bryan Caldwell and boys basketball coach Owen Miller about playing the game at the school’s gymnasium.
“I threw out the idea and they jumped on it,” said Ladner, a former St. Stanislaus head coach. “I appreciate the support of (Gulfport superintendent Glen East). They moved quickly to make it a reality. It’s a chance to further our brand on the Coast.”
Brent, who is in his fifth year as the head coach at JSU, embraced the idea.
“I think it’s very positive anytime you can play for some kind charity,” Brent said. “Kansas and Missouri donated to hurricane relief and did almost over $1 million ($1.75 million) for one game. It’s great anytime you’re able to help somebody.”
Southeastern Louisiana and Jackson State have played regular season contests in each of the last two seasons. The Tigers won the first game, 89-66, but the Lions bounced back to beat JSU 84-71 a year ago. Southeastern finished 16-16 last year while Jackson State is coming off a 14-18 campaign.
Both teams return experienced lineups.
Southeastern is led by 5-foot-9, 145-pound junior Malain Veal, who averaged 14.5 points and 4.5 assists a year ago.
“Marlain Veal is pound for pound the most exciting player in Division I,” Ladner said. “You’ll probably think he’s a team manager when he walks in, but he’s a little dynamo out there. He’s very quick and talented.”
Brent believes he has a roster full of players capable of scoring in double digits, including 6-foot-5 junior guard Paris Collins, who averaged 12.3 points and 5.3 rebounds last season.
“(Southeastern) is a veteran group,” Brent said. “It’s going to be a challenge from the standpoint of playing a seasoned team that will look like they’re midway through their season.”
Who: Southeastern Louisiana vs. Jackson State
What: Fundraiser for hurricane and flood relief
When: 7 p.m., Thursday
Where: Bert Jenkins Gymnasium, Gulfport