July 28, 2010 10:01:00 AM
Two former West Lowndes High School student-athletes will depart next month for new college homes.
On Tuesday, recent West Lowndes graduate Demetrius Malone signed a scholarship to play baseball and basketball at Coahoma Community College in Clarksdale.
Malone won''t be the Panthers'' only former multi-sport athlete to take his skills to junior college in August.
Last month, rising sophomore DQ Farmer decided to transfer from Mississippi Valley State University to go to Northeast C.C. in Booneville.
Malone opted to go the junior college route even though he had scholarship offers to play baseball from Jackson State and MVSU. For a long time, MVSU looked to be his destination, but Malone held out in part because he wanted to play basketball and baseball in college.
"I almost waited until the last minute," Malone said. "Something in me said I have to make a decision because it is getting late. I knew I was going somewhere."
Malone, who had baseball scholarship offers from a couple of other junior colleges and some interest from the men''s basketball coach at Copiah-Lincoln, said he liked the prospect of going to Jackson State or MVSU but that the opportunity to go to Coahoma C.C. will allow him to keep his options open. He said he qualified academically for both schools, so he will be able to transfer to another Division I school after his freshman season if he desires.
West Lowndes High baseball coach Todd Stanley believes the fact that Devin Malone is at Coahoma C.C. motivated Demetrius to go there.
"The coach at Coahoma had been hard after him all summer," Stanley said. "Even though Demetrius said he was going to Valley, he stayed with him."
Stanley said Malone likely will see a lot more playing time right away. Immediate action coupled with the chance to play two sports tipped the scales Coahoma C.C.''s way.
"I think he just wanted to weigh his opportunities because he knew he was going to get the opportunity to play somewhere," Stanley said. "He talked with a lot of people (including Stefan Hairston, of Columbus High, who signed to play baseball)."
Farmer opted to leave MVSU, a Division I school in Itta Bena, after earning first-team All-Southwestern Athletic Conference honors as a freshman. He was the only freshman to be recognized on the league''s first team.
"I wasn''t happy playing at Valley," Farmer said. "I was producing on the field, but I didn''t want to stay down there and be miserable."
Farmer had only two hits in his first 17 games and was used primarily as a pinch runner early in the season. But the former infielder turned outfielder heated up and finished with a .284 batting average, nine doubles, two triples, three home runs, 33RBIs, and 15 stolen bases.
Despite his success, Farmer said he felt uncomfortable at the school at Christmas. He said he talked with Stanley, who coached him as a senior at West Lowndes High. Stanley encouraged Farmer to stick it out to see if things improved.
Unfortunately, Farmer said they didn''t, which put him in a difficult predicament. He ultimately opted to leave MVSU and considered giving up baseball and going to Mississippi State.
That plan didn''t last long, as Farmer realized how much he would have missed the game and called Stanley and asked him to contact Northeast C.C. baseball coach Kent Farris. Northeast C.C. had recruited Farmer out of high school, and it didn''t take long for Farris to offer Farmer a spot on his team, even though it was very late in the recruiting process.
"I feel like it is working out pretty well," Farmer said. "It wasn''t a spur of the moment deal. It was something I had been talking about for quite a while. I feel like I made the best decision."
Farmer said he already has had to answer questions from people who wonder how he could benefit leaving a Division I school to go to a junior college. He said he is content with his decision because he believes a strong sophomore season at Northeast C.C. will give him the opportunity to play at another Division I school for his final two years of eligibility.
"I have prayed about it and feel like it is all going to work out," said Farmer, who will move in at Northeast C.C. on Aug. 11 in time for the first day of classes the next day.
Farmer said Demetrius Malone was still focused on going to MVSU after Malone learned he wasn''t going to return to the school. He said he told Malone that his college decision was "on him," and that he had to make the move that was best for him.
Demetrius Malone said it helped having his brother, who also played basketball and baseball at West Lowndes High, at Coahoma C.C. to tell him what the school is really like.
"Through him I pretty much knew a lot about the program and the coaches," Demetrius Malone said of what his cousin told him. "I felt comfortable with them and that helped me with my decision."
Demetrius Malone will report to Coahoma Aug. 11.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.