Johnston Community College returns the world of college basketball this week with its rebooted men’s program and a women’s club program playing their season openers at the Smithfield Recreation and Aquatics Center.
Head coach Jason Johnson is excited about the men’s team he’ll field this season: “I like the way they’ve bought in to what we’re trying to do. We want to be competitive every day in practice and in games. … Our ultimate goal here is to get each of our players a degree. If they can do the work to do that, the basketball will take care of itself.”
Johnson, a Fayetteville native who was the lead assistant for Methodist University’s men’s program the past seven years, jumped at the chance to start his own program at JCC.
The Jaguars will feature a smaller lineup this season, relying on their speed and an up-tempo Roy Williams’ style of play to win games.
Johnson says one of his bigger goals away from the court this season is to build relationships with area high schools to bring more local talent to the team.
“Working as the recruiting coordinator at Methodist is something that’s going to help me immensely here,” Johnson said. “JCC is a great opportunity for young people to advance their education locally. The basketball program is just an extension of the great education experience here.”
The men will play in the NJCAA Division III Region X level with league opponents Davidson, Sandhills and Catawba Valley, playing each one of those school three times this season.
The men open the season on Wednesday at the SRAC against Lenoir Community College at 7 p.m. They return to action on Saturday against Cape Fear back at the SRAC in a 3 p.m. start.
Included on the schedule this year is a game against the University of North Carolina’s junior varsity team in the Dean Dome on Jan. 10 and two games against UNC-Greensboro’s JV team: one in Greensboro and one in Smithifeld.
The Jaguars women’s team will play at the club level with a goal of moving into NJCAA Division II play next season. The JCC women, under the direction of head coach Reginald Chapple, open their season at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 3 at the SRAC against Clinton Junior College.