LaKendric Longmire Profile Page:
Longmire, a 6-foot-6, 200-pound senior at Pascagoula, (Miss.) High sat out as a junior but has established himself as a major college prospect. He averages 27 points and nine rebounds a game for the undefeated Panthers.
"He's a Division I player, there's no question," said first-year PHS coach Keith Robinson. "He made a nice pass to a teammate underneath the goal out there and he likes doing that sort of thing, too. He involves himself and others really well.
"He'll be a 2-guard, I think. It's where he's good at. He can handle the ball well and create shots. He can drive it, too."
It's been Robinson's arrival and Longmire's resurgence which have figured most greatly in Pascagoula's current 9-0 record.
The Panthers were plenty inconsistent and an unhappy Longmire sought a transfer following his sophomore season. He went to Moss Point High but was ordered to sit out from competition for the entire 2004-05 campaign, which ended with Moss Point earning its third straight Mississippi Coliseum appearance in Jackson.
"I've just always wanted to win and we weren't doing that at Pascagoula in recent years. It was tough sitting out at Moss Point but I was told I had to do it and you just move on, looking toward the next year," Longmire said this week. "I kept my grades (honor roll status) up and I wanted to be out there with them, but I am back here now at my old school and things couldn't be better."
Longmire and the Panthers beat Bay St. Louis (Miss.) High on Tuesday and will play the same BHS team in their next outing, at the annual Gulfport Hardwood Club Holiday Classic. A few wins in that tournament would keep them in line for a possible matchup with another of the Coast's undefeated teams - Gulfport High. And there are two regular-season clashes with rival Moss Point which will also challenge the upstart Panthers.
"Our goal is to get to South State and we'll do that I think, most definitely," Longmire said. "We've beaten some good teams and we are playing confident. We actually don't talk too much about how good we are but we all have said we want to for sure look at being at South State near the end of the year."
A Coliseum appearance, while accomplished by nearly all the Panthers' 5A Coast opponents through the past six seasons, is something Pascagoula hasn't done in more than a decade. Harrison Central, Gulfport and Biloxi have each won state championships during Longmire's matriculation at PHS. Ocean Springs went to South State two years ago, as well.
Robinson replaced longtime PHS coach Gary Gagliano prior to this season and brought a new attitude to a program mired in mediocrity.
"They didn't really understand how to win, I don't think," said Robinson, who took four different programs to the highest plateau in Mississippi hoops. Most recently a coach at Philadelphia (Miss.) High, Robinson has coached in four different state finals games.
"My main thing is taking one game at the time," said Robinson. "LaKendrick is a great player and we've got some others who are talented here, too. We're doing a lot of good things but what you saw here against Bay High was us playing some really bad basketball. We can do a lot better than what we did against Bay High. We'll have to.
"People told me when I took this job I wouldn't win 10 games our first year. We are 9-0 right now, but we don't ever want to look ahead."
Longmire said a defensive push plus a change in the PHS offense has generated more chances to score.
"The whole team is listening to Coach Robinson. He's got our attention," Longmire said. "We are actually running plays out here. Last year we ran one play, over and over. We are much more focused with the new coach. He works us and has us conditioned really well."
Southern Miss has reportedly made an official offer to Longmire and South Alabama assistant coach Isaac Brown, a former Pascagoula star, could represent another possibility in the recruiting process.
"I've gotten official offers from Western Kentucky and Southern Miss," Longmire said. "Mississippi State has shown some interest in me and I might stay in-state, I don't really know. I don't want to go to Ole Miss."
Longmire said Oregon and Tennessee were among the most active schools that he communicates with. He thinks he'll have made his college choice by late January or February.
Pat Wright is a free lance writer who writes articles for Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com.