Illini Basketball

Miss Jackson State, if you’re Nasty

First, keep in mind that it’s not Jacksonville, where Tony Jasick’s career is mired after a successful stint at IPFW.

Remember that big fat guy with the beard that nearly destroyed John Groce’s second Illini team?

His name, you will not believe, was Steve Forbes

It’s also not Jacksonville State, where former Groce staffer James Haring became DOBO before getting the same job with Anthony Grant’s Dayton Flyers.

He’s now a full-fledged assistant at Radford, but recalls the important trick when differentiating these schools.

IR: Do you have any clever mnemonics, rhymes or “sick beats” to differentiate Jackson State from Jacksonville and Jacksonville State?

JH: Haha, just always said the Jacksonville State Gamecocks in Jacksonville, Alabama. Made sure to always include the mascot to differentiate from the others.

Jackson State is, duh, the land grant university for the State of Jackson. Whereas the Jacksonville schools are obviously both in Florida.

JSU is led by … wait, I’m hearing from the control room that Jacksonville State is in Alabama. Oh, yes, that’s what James Haring meant by “Alabama.”

Summa Cum Laude, this guy. Trust his info.

Anyway, the state of Jackson … uh, hold on again.

Turns out there might not be a state called “Jackson.” Perhaps the Orange Krush can remind Tuesday’s visitors about the silliness of their name.

But seriously, the JSU men’s basketball team represents the HBCU in Jackson, Mississippi, so more power to them for fighting the good fight. The best of fights, frankly, as far as good fights go.

Tuesday’s game will be their first spectated contest of the season. Their exhibition against University of Arkansas-Monticello was cancelled. (You might think it’s odd to house a campus of UA in Monticello, but just remember that Indiana keeps one of its campuses in Pennsylvania).

During the Season of Covid, they managed to play 18 games between postponements and cancellations. Their 12-6 record was a fantastic improvement over the 15-17 of 2019-20. They performed well in their awful SWAC both seasons, going 11-7 the first time around, and 11-0 last year, buttressed by the conference’s POTY (Tristan Jarrett), the conference’s D-POTY (Jayveous McKinnis) and a Juwan Howard-esque strategy of postponing or cancelling the risky games.

JSU fared abysmally against legitimate programs last year. Ben Howland’s Bulldogs beat them 82-59. Kermit Davis’s Rebels imposed worse punishment, at 80-45. LA Tech ran it up to 85-58.

Bradley won 83-60 in Peoria, and even an atrocious Iowa State team won 60-45 over JSU’s ’21 Parade of Clowns, in Ames.

Coach Wayne Brent already done tole you that they’ll be better this year, despite losing Jarrett to the G-League. McKinnis is back, and they’ve added transfers Gabe Watson from Southern Miss, and Chance Moore “who played at Wichita State and Washington State.”

But in fact, Moore played a total of 20 minutes in Kansas, and not at all in Pullman.

Jayveous McKinnis (

Watson was pretty good in Hattiesburg, so he left. But after signing with Ron Hunter (yep, that guy) and Associate Head Coach Ray McCallum (yep, him) to play at Tulane, Watson found himself back in his hometown. We don’t know why, and a query to JSU sports information yielded a copy of the game notes.

Relying on guys who couldn’t find the court at better programs remains a poor strategy against ranked teams from major conferences.

So even without Kofi, with a sore Trent and a rumored (mild) injury to Belo, the Illini should still enjoy a good curbstomping. And if they don’t, Brad Underwood will garner more great video for Treadmill purposes.