POPLARVILLE, Miss. — The new season hasn't even started and the record-setting Pearl River men's basketball program is already adding another line to its ledger.
The NJCAA released its preseason rankings for the abbreviated 2021 season on Tuesday with the Wildcats checking in at No. 5.
Tuesday's announcement marks the third straight year the Wildcats have entered the season ranked. PRCC's fifth-place ranking is also the highest preseason mark in program history, eclipsing last year's previous high of No. 11.
PRCC is the only Mississippi Association of Community Colleges Conference men's program in the ranking.
The men's basketball team was 1 of 2 PRCC programs to receive good news Tuesday as the baseball Wildcats were ranked No. 7 in the NJCAA's preseason poll.
ABOUT THE WILDCATS
The PRCC men are coming off an unprecedented season in 2019-20. The Wildcats were the only undefeated team in the country at 28-0 and had earned the No. 1 seed in the NJCAA Tournament — a first for Mississippi JUCOs — before the pandemic shut down the country last spring.
Coach Chris Oney was named NJCAA Coach of the Year following the campaign. The men return three regulars from a year ago, including Earl Smith (Lanier; Jackson), Jariyon Wilkens (Biloxi) and JaRonn Wilkens (Biloxi).
The reigning Mississippi and Region XXIII champion was scheduled to open the season Thursday against Baton Rouge, but the Bears postponed the game. Pearl River will now begin its title defense Monday, Jan. 25 at East Central. PRCC will face Jones College on Jan. 28 in its home opener.
No makeup date has been scheduled for the BRCC game.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Pearl River will only broadcast home contests during the regular season. Livestreams will be available at PRCCMedia.com. Carey Meitzler will once again call the action alongside Mark Franklin on WRJW 1320 AM and WRJWRadio.com.