Watson Chapel seniors T.J. Handley and Rodney Ollison have become part of a new era at West Memphis’ Mid-South Community College.
The standouts signed letters of intent Wednesday with a basketball program that’s been in existence only two years and is moving from NJCAA Division III to Division II, offering scholarships for the first time. The school was established in 1992.
“I’ve been playing with T.J. since we were little,” Ollison said. “Going to Mid-South, I know what he likes, and he knows what I like, so it’s going to be fun playing together.”
Handley used his 6-foot-5 frame to handle the ball as a guard for the Wildcats. He averaged 10 points per game this past season, but had 36 in a win over White Hall and 30 in a first-round 5A state tournament loss to Beebe.
“Just being a long athlete, I think T.J.’s going to be able to affect a lot defensively,” Mid-South coach Chris Parker said. “Offensively, with his length and ability, that’s what we’re really recruiting him for.”
Add to that athleticism and plenty of highlight reels, Watson Chapel coach Matt Busch said.
Handley and Ollison emerged as standout players for Watson Chapel this season after seeing limited time as juniors. Both made all-conference in the 5A-Southeast and Ollison was placed on the all-state team.
“I’m up to any challenge because I’m not afraid of a challenge,” Handley said. “(Busch) called my name. I had to show up.”
Ollison averaged 8 points and 8 rebounds per game, but he had seven double-doubles to his credit. Parker hopes the 6-4 center will bring his rebounding to the table in West Memphis.
“This is a big moment,” Ollison said of the signing. “I get to further myself in basketball. I’m going to this school and get to play two extra years.”
Mid-South finished 7-19, an increase in wins from the first season, Parker said. The scholarship era is expected to help the Greyhounds compete against their rivals from Tennessee and Mississippi.
“We look forward to playing against teams on an equal playing field,” Parker said.