Categorized | Sports

Trio of Trojans end Division-I drought by signing to Alcorn State

By Thomas Sellers Jr.

Alcorn State signees El Paso Pitts, DeCarlos Holmes and Jerick Newsome

Alcorn State signees El Paso Pitts, DeCarlos Holmes and Jerick Newsome

The last time a Millington Trojan basketball player inked a Division-I national letter of intent was David Jordan back in 2000 to Mississippi Valley State.
The wait for another Trojan to sign D-I finally ended during a signing ceremony April 23 in the Millington Central High School Library. Head Coach Rob Sabau and the Millington program tripled the pleasure with El Paso Pitts, DeCarlos Holmes and Jerick Newsome signing to Alcorn State University in Mississippi.
“I couldn’t be prouder of them and happier for them,” Sabau said. “It’s a huge accomplishment for them. As for the program, it’s something that is great for our program. Like I said at our banquet, I’m just more proud of out of all 10 of our guys who are seniors, all 10 will be eligible to play collegiate athletes. Hopefully we can bat a .1000 every year.”
Pitts, Holmes and Newsome were a part of a decorated senior class of Trojans featuring Willie Mudbone, Jonathan Patterson, Kelby Hollowell, Juvan Ballard, Antonio Webber, Tevin Oliver and Kendrick Carter.
Pitts’ role on the team was small forward using his 6’5 frame to be an athletic scorer. Holmes was the man in the middle for Sabau’s club standing 6’8.
And the player who was the coach on the court was Newsome running point. Newsome’s family is from Mississippi and his parents Vincent and Trina grew up near the Alcorn campus.
“Today means a lot,” Jerick said. “I’m going back home to Mississippi. This school’s been a part of my family for a long time. I’m just glad I get to play in front of them.”
Newsome played varsity all four years at Millington. Through running the offense and spending time in the weight room Newsome developed his point guard skills and improved his physical strength to earn a Division-I scholarship.
“They’re getting one of the toughest, hard-nose players I’ve ever coached,” Sabau said. “He’s going to be special no matter where he goes or what he does. They’re looking at him for more down the line. They’re looking to develop him more and put some weight on him. I think they’re going to find it hard to keep him off the court. He’s so competitive.”
The past four years Pitts has increased his competitive nature on the court. Entering high school known as El Paso Johnson, Pitts was the center on the Millington Middle School district championship team.
But Sabau saw his shooting touch and worked on developing his guard skills. Each year Pitts’ overall game improved.
“A lot people didn’t think I was going to make it,” Pitts recalled. “But I made it. It took hard work in my classes as well.”
Proving the doubters wrong motivated Pitts. And on December 16 Pitts received additional motivation when his father El Paso Sr. passed away.
“I did this for my Daddy,” he said. “I just want to make him proud. And my little brother will follow in my footsteps. This runs in the blood.”
Roddarius was there by his brother side for the signing to Alcorn. Also there to support El Paso Jr. was his aunt Ursula Bakin, baby sister Jayla and family friend Jasmine Brown.
Sabau said the Braves will benefit from adding El Paso to their roster because he has natural gifts for the game.
“He’s been up and down,” he acknowledged. “The biggest thing with El Paso is to get him to have confidence in himself. And I think we’re starting to see that. In college, once he gets out on his own and discovers some new things, his confidence is going to go through the roof.
“Athleticly he’s very gifted,” Sabau continued. “He’s a good shooter, although a little streaky. If he can work on his ball-handling he’s going to be a very good Division I player.”
Sabau said after the tragdey he saw maturity in El Paso that helped him honor his Dad and reach his dream of playing Division-I.
“It drove home the point that we’ve told him, ‘You’re not guaranteed tomorrow,’” he said. “I think that woke him up and woke up his little borther Roddarius too. He used that to motivate himself and inspire him to do what he has done.”
Holmes had to overcome tough patches in life to reach his potential and dream of playing college ball. When it came to signing day, Holmes’ family and friends was on hand to celebrate led by his mother Tameka Warren and daughter Jayden.
Also there to witness Holmes inking his letter were stepfather Tyrone Ruffin, girlfriend Bria Vaughn, uncle Malcolm McClenon and sister Vonesha Holmes.
“A new beginning,” Holmes said of going to Alcorn. “Moving to a new learning envirnoment and moving to a new basketball envirnoment.”
Holmes moved to a new basketball envirnoment two years ago in Millington from Frayser.
“When I first got here, I knew I had a lot of people rallying against me,” he recalled. “I knew I had folks like El Paso, Ms. (Beth) Hale and my teammates to ride with me. To have people on my side, motivated me to strive and do more.”
Sabau said with one year to prove himself on the court Holmes took advantage of that chance. Holmes had moments of dominance in the post with his offensive skills, grabbed rebounds, blocked shots and thew down power dunks.
“He’s had a lot of support but in the end no one could do it but DeCarlos,” Sabau said. “I couldn’t be any prouder of him for the obstacles he’s overcome from where he was a year ago. Not so much what he’s done on the court but off the court of how he’s improved himself as a person.
“He decided when he got here he committed himself for going to college,” he added. “He decided to use basketball as a vehicle and his done it. Alcorn State is getting a steal. He’s biggest problem basketballwise so far is that he’s only played two years of organized basketball. He gets more coaching, more reps and more confidence he’s going to end up being a high level Division I player at Alcorn State.”
Holmes said his signing is just the next step in his maturity as a basketball player and man.
“It lets me know I’m not done,” he said. “I have more to do to help my family be successful and put my little girl through school. It lets her know there’s more to the world than just violence or just having fun. There’s a lot of hard work to do.”
The trio of Trojans said they are happy to have each other on the next chapter in their lives.
“My boy El Paso, I’m used to throwing him alleys,” Newsome said. “Looking forward to doing it at the college level. My big man DeCarlos will be getting the rebounds and fighting strong down there. So it feels good to have them going with me.”
Holmes said the signings to Alcorn was history for Trojan Basketball and represents a chance for Newsome, Pitts and himself to be successful in life.
“It’s a big opporunity for us and we’ll take pride in our schools and take pride in going down there to make something happen,” he concluded.

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