South Mississippi will be well represented in the 26th annual Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Classic on Friday at Mississippi College.
The girls will square off at 5 p.m., with the boys following around 7 p.m.
West Harrison's Ameshya Williams and St. Martin's Savannah Jones were named to the girls squad, while fellow Yellow Jacket, Stacee St. Julian, and Harrison Central's Biscuit Floyd are playing in the boys game. Gulfport coach Donny Fuller is an administrative assistant coach for the girls. Williams was forced to pull out of the game Thursday night due to an ankle injury she suffered in the Class 5A finals against Holmes County Central.
The Coast standouts are approaching the game a bit differently. Both Williams and Jones know where they'll be at the next level. Williams recently committed to Mississippi State and Jones has already signed at South Alabama. Floyd and St. Julian, however, are looking at Friday's game as a big opportunity.
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Both players have a handful of schools actively recruiting them but are hoping Friday may open the eyes of some recruiters.
"It's an opportunity for more colleges to see us," said Floyd, who has offers from Copiah-Lincoln and Southwest community colleges and has garnered interest from other schools like Southeastern Louisiana. "They want to see what I can do against bigger guards, so this is an opportunity to see how I can play for my size. My size is a big part of it."
The 5-foot-9 Floyd was one of the more electric scorers in the state during his prep career. Even as a smaller guard, Floyd had a knack for knocking down big shots from outside or slashing to the lane. As a senior, the Red Rebel averaged 19.8 points per game with 4.4 assists.
St. Julian holds offers from Valdosta State and Delta State and said he has drawn interest from Austin Peay, Southern Miss, SELA and Chaminade University of Honolulu -- which famously upset Virginia in the 1982 NCAA Tournament. He also holds offers from multiple junior colleges.
"It's a really great honor to play with all these talented people around me," said St. Julian, who led the Coast boys averaging 22.5 points per game. "I just want to go out there and beat Alabama. Mississippi hasn't beaten Alabama in a long time. That would mean a lot to me."
Unlike the football series, Alabama and Mississippi's
overall record is much closer. Alabama's boys hold a 14-11 edge, with the girls clinging to a 13-12 advantage.
Mississippi's girls last won 95-89 in 2014 when the game was played at Jackson State. Harrison Central's Jazzmun Holmes, now a reserve at Mississippi State, was the Mississippi MVP last year after scoring 17 points with four rebounds and four steals in a 101-88 loss.
Mississippi's boys last won 85-74 in 2011 at Pelham (Ala.) Community College.
Like St. Julian, Floyd said just being selected meant a lot.
"To be chosen out of all the talent in Mississippi, that's a real honor. There's a lot of talent in Mississippi," he said. "I'm excited. Very excited. It's a big game. It's a big opportunity for everybody on the team.
"I thought I'd be nervous but I'm not nervous at all. I'm just ready to play."
Williams was injured in the Class 5A finals against Holmes County Central but will play Friday.
She led the Coast in scoring at a 24.6 clip this season and also averaged 14.2 rebounds per game.
While Williams was one of the more imposing post players in the state, Jones was just as terrifying for opponents as a shooter. Jones was second on the Coast in scoring, averaging 23.6 points per game. At 6-foot, Jones also has enough size to play the post in high school and averaged a career-high 10 rebounds per game this season.