Southern Miss basketball on the rise: Jay Ladner completes first signing class at USM

For the last month-and-a-half, Southern Miss Head Men’s Basketball Coach Jay Ladner has been working from the comfort of his back porch and says he’s got a lot of business done out there.

His first spring signing class is certainly a testament to that.

USM has collected seven national letters of intent from this group of newcomers made up of four incoming freshman and three junior college transfers.

According to, all three of those players are top 40 junior college prospects.

Pearl River Community College Point Guard Tae Hardy was the first to commit, following his All-American season for the nation’s top ranked Wildcats, fresh off a perfect 28-0 season.

And believe it or not, his signing tipped off a chain reaction for other future Golden Eagles. “His committing to Southern Miss has had a lot to do with other people committing to Southern Miss. I think winners want to play with winners, and he calls and says Coach, can I have those guys’ numbers? I want to go ahead and start calling them. I didn’t know what it was. I was so taken aback by it and that type of leadership is not as common these days as it was when I first started coaching. And I said Tae, is everything okay? And he said Coach nah, I just want to let them know hey, what we’ve got to do to start getting ready for next year. I mean he hasn’t shot a ball. He hasn’t made a basket. Hadn’t made an assist. Hadn’t guarded anybody yet. Gotten a rebound. But he’s already impacting winning in such a positive way. And when it’s your point guard, that’s even better.”

Joining Hardy are the other two JUCO transfers Justin Johnson and DeAndre Pinckney as well as Jarvarzia Belton, Mark Jaakson, Jaron Pierre, and Blake Roberts in this year’s spring signing class.

Those seven newcomers have an average height of almost 6’6”.

Categories: Local Sports, Sports

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