Reigning SWAC champs look to repeat

Junior guard Ivy Smith Jr. (left), All-SWAC First Team selection, prepares for a shot during practice. Head men’s basketball coach Donte’ Jackson smiles in practice, as his team prepares for the 2018 season. Raven LeDay/The Gramblinite

Grambling State University men’s and women’s basketball programs kicked off the 2018 season by hosting its annual midnight madness tonight (Oct. 25) at Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center.

Doors will  open at 7 p.m. as the fun-filled night starts at 8 p.m. with live music from DJ Twin.

The night will consist of an introduction of both men’s and women’s teams, a 10-minute scrimmage, and a three-point shootout, followed by a dunk contest.
 Both teams come into the 2018 season for the first time in school history, predicted to finish 1st place in the SWAC.

The Lady Tigers finished the 2017 season as SWAC Champions with a NCAA tournament appearance.

The G-MEN finished their season in first place however, due to a one year post-season ban the Tigers were unable to represent the SWAC Conference and advance to the NCAA tournament.

 “My word for this year is consistence. We had seven guys that were unable to play last year due to NCAA transfer rules, but those guys will be available to help us this season” says assistant coach Kyle Jones.

Grambling State owns the second-longest current road win streak (eight games) in NCAA Division I.

 GSU went 17-14 overall and 13-5 in conference play in the 2017 season.

The Tigers won the program’s first regular season championship since the 1988-89 season.

Junior guard Ivy Smith Jr. is a National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) All-District 23 Second Team honoree and BOXTOROW All-American First-Team selection.

 He’s also has been named to the All-SWAC Preseason First Team.

Teammate Devante Jackson ranked fourth on the team in scoring at 8.1 points per game and was fourth on the team in rebounding at 4.3 boards per contest was named to SWAC Preseason 2nd team.

“Look out for 6’6 guard Prince Moss, also 6’7 transfer Dallas Polk-Hillard, and shooter Lasani Johnson who is the son of NBA Hall of Famer Larry Johnson.
I think we have a good group of guys that could explode on any given night” says Jones. The Tigers look to continue their 2017 success as the G-MEN add numerous players this season.

The G-MEN open the 2018-19 season on Friday, Nov. 9 against Jarvis Christian College. Tip-off against the Bulldogs is set for 7:30 p.m. at the Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center.

The Lady Tigers finished the 2017 season as SWAC Champions and  a first-round defeat to Baylor University in the NCAA Tournament.

GSU Lady Tigers are led by senior guard Shakyla Hill who recorded a quadruple double last season.

Hill was named the SWAC’s Preseason Player of the  Year and Defensive Player of the Year, as well as All-SWAC First-Team selection averaging 16.8 points, 7.5 boards, 5.6 assists and 4.8 steals per game last season.

She also earned the SWAC Women’s Basketball Tournament Most Valuable Player and made national recognition last season by becoming the fourth-ever NCAA women’s basketball player to record a quadruple double.  

Grambling State Lady Tigers open the 2018-19 season on Tuesday, Nov. 6 with a trip to Auburn, Ala. to take on SEC member Auburn.

The Lady Tigers’ home opener is Friday, Nov. 9 with a 5:30 p.m. tip-off against McNeese State at Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center.