HANCEVILLE – More than a year settled into the job, Wallace State men's basketball coach John Meeks is eager to see the production from his first full recruiting class.
Meeks' first regular-season glimpse at his reconstructed team begins this week as the Lions open the 2011-12 season with three road games, including Tuesday night's debut at Northeast Mississippi Community College.
For the second consecutive season, Wallace State has no returning sophomores. Meeks, 28, completely overhauled the roster, recruiting 12 brand new players to Hanceville after the program finished 16-14 last season and fell one win shy of qualifying for the Alabama Community College Conference/Region 22 Tournament during his inaugural year on campus.
"We knew this time last year that this recruiting class was going to be huge. We planned out multiple options at each position and recruited 10-20 legitimate prospects who could play for us at each spot," said Meeks, who's entering his fourth year overall as a head coach and was hired at Wallace State in July 2010. "We tried to balance the roster as much as we could because we didn't want to get in the position where we were in reload mode again next year. We've got some transfers ready to play for us and a good freshman class."
Sophomore forward Jamal Curry was a summer participant in the invite-only Mullen/Adidas Top 100 JUCO Showcase at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo. The 6-foot-9, 195-pound Curry transferred to Wallace State from Radford University, where he played in seven games as a freshman before the move.
"Jamal is going to be an impact guy for sure at the conference level and has a chance to make some national headlines," Meeks said.
Point guard Jay Murphy is expected to be another integral part of the offense after leading Delta State in assists (4.2 per game) last season in 27 games.
"A lot of how well we play and perform this season will be predicated on how Jay performs. He's the one true point guard we have," Meeks said. "He's really talented, a good defender, does a great job of seeing the floor, gets all guys involved and is a great kid."
Meeks believes North Carolina natives and freshmen Ryan King and Jacquise Moore will also provide an early lift.
"Ryan has the chance to be a major impact guy for us. He's a high level athlete, can shoot and do some great things off the bounce. Jacquise is really talented and a great defender.
He can play several different perimeter positions." Meeks said. "Those two have stood out during preseason practice."
Wallace State has a pair of Alabama natives on its roster. Freshman guard CJ Murphy has walked on from Westminster Christian School in Huntsville and sophomore Jeremy McKay, a Headland grad, joins the Lions after a year at Pensacola State College.
Wallace State has three straight road games at the outset of the season before its home debut on Nov. 10 vs. Northeast Mississippi.
The ACCC North Division will feature a new look this season after Bevill State and Northwest Shoals folded their athletic programs in the offseason. Perennial South Division contender Southern Union moves to the North to offset the defections.
"This league is in constant transition. Losing Bevill State and Northwest Shoals was a disappointment because they each had strong programs and were always competitive. We know Shelton State and Lawson are going to be very good and Marion Military has changed coaches," Meeks said. "There's not going to be a cupcake or pushover in our division by any stretch.
"I believe we'll be right there with them. We're different than last year in some ways because we are a much better shooting team and a lot bigger."