Griffin, Clark heading to Hinds Community College

Published 1:01 am Thursday, April 13, 2017

Natchez High School and Hinds Community College have developed a strong pipeline through the past several years, with many former Bulldogs ending up at the Hinds campus.

And recently, the Bulldogs added to the list.

Larry Griffin and Kirdis Clark each capped off their high school careers by signing college scholarship papers with the Raymond-based college.

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“I’m excited to go,” Clark said. “I’ve already been talking to the coaches, and our mission is to win the MACJC.”

Clark will join Natchez alums Ernesha Chatman and Zyaire Ewing.

Last year, HCC finished with a 21-7 record, including a 7-4 mark in MACJC play.

Clark said she chose the Lady Eagles because of the program’s ability to further a player’s skills.

“I feel like I can go Division I after my first year there,” Clark said. “They’re really well known, and they develop players to be able to play on the Division I level.”

This past year, Clark averaged 19 points in leading Natchez to a Region Tournament championship and a MHSAA playoff appearance.

Clark departs Natchez after a memorable high school tenure, which includes state championships in each of her freshman and sophomore campaigns.

The 5-foot-8 guard wasn’t the first member of her family to help bring a state championship to Natchez as her mother, Katrenia McNeal, served as a member of the Lady Bulldogs’ 1993 state championship squad.

Clark said she expects her younger sister, Kelsey McNeal, 13, to carry on the family championship legacy in the coming years.

“It’s not ending,” Clark said. “I expect big things out of her. She has to.”

For Griffin, the journey to Signing Day was much different than Clark’s. The 6-foot-5 post player didn’t play basketball his freshman and sophomore seasons. However, under the guidance of NHS coach David Haywood, Griffin has molded into a destructive inside presence and averaged 14 points and 11 rebounds this past year for Natchez.

“When I started playing, I started liking the game a little more,” Griffin said. “The way I transformed from being fat to skinny and the dunking and all of it, it really opened up my eyes for the game.”

Haywood said because of Griffin’s relative inexperience, his ability at the next level has no bounds.

“I’m very excited for Larry,” Haywood said. “His basketball abilities, everything is out in front of him. I think he’s still young with the game, and I think he has tremendous upside.”

Griffin said a key reason in his decision to attend Hinds was the attention the Eagles coaching staff showed him throughout the recruiting process.

“They were calling me every day,” he said. “That’s what made me choose them.”

Haywood said the signing was not only a great individual day for Griffin, but also served as momentous day for the Bulldog basketball program.

“It just gives kids vision, academic and athletic wise,” Haywood said. “If a child can have a vision of seeing that it’s possible (to earn a college scholarship), then that gives them something to reach for.”