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Southern head coach Carlos Funchess coaches in the SWAC basketball tournament against Prairie View, Tuesday, March 10, 2020, at Southern University's F.G. Clark Activity Center in Baton Rouge, La.

There was no happy ending for the Southern women’s basketball team. But Carlos Funchess is eager to see what the 2020-21 season might bring.

“We lose two players who were seniors, but I feel like we signed two players who are going to fit into the program well,” Funchess said. “They both come from junior colleges that play at a high level, and we look for them to be able to contribute as soon as they get here. Like everyone else, we’re waiting to see what happens next and when we can get back on campus.”

The Jaguars were on a bus headed to Birmingham, Alabama, for the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament semifinals seven weeks ago when Funchess received a phone call telling him the tournament and the rest of the regular season were being canceled by the coronavirus pandemic.

It was a tough pill to swallow for an Jaguars squad that was 15-14 overall and 13-5 in the SWAC, with a No. 3 seed in the tournament. Funchess said the focus now is on the final exams players are taking this week and on workout programs each player can do at home over the summer.

By signing 6-foot-1 wing player Jordan Aikens of Wabash Valley (Illinois) College, and 5-7 guard Tye Metcalf of East Mississippi Community College, Funchess and his Southern staff believe they can fill the void left by the two seniors they lost, guards Brittany Rose and Jaden Towner.

Funchess describes Aikens as a versatile player capable of playing inside while also possessing the ability to shoot the 3-pointer. Wabash was ranked ninth nationally among junior colleges, and seven of its players signed with Division I schools, according to its website.

Metcalf, a native of Southaven, Mississippi, averaged 13.5 points and 4.0 assists per game for EMCC. She averaged 18.7 points over three games as EMCC won its conference tournament.

There is a bonus for the Jaguars — the return of former Southern Lab standout Cailain Williams following knee surgery last fall. Williams (6-2) also can play inside-out and is a skilled 3-point shooter. A one-time LSU commitment, Williams has three years of eligibility remaining.


Email Robin Fambrough at rfambrough@theadvocate.com