Gulf Coast’s Phil Gaffney talks challenges COVID-19 is placing on JUCO teams


PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB)– Junior college teams in the panhandle know they won’t be able to play until 2021.

However, there is still a lot to figure out before January. On Wednesday, News 13 spoke with Gulf Coast State College head men’s basketball coach Phil Gaffney on where the team stands as of now.

The Panhandle Conference still hasn’t confirmed what its schedule will be like, coaches assume it will be a 16-game schedule. Normally, the conference schedule is only 12 games long. Teams will have to prepare for conference matchups through mainly practice and conditioning in the fall.

“We’re gonna kinda have to think outside the box because we’ve never done this before no games for a semester so it’s gonna be all brand new,” Gaffney said.

Teams are trying to schedule scrimmages in the fall so they are able to get close, real game experience in before January.

“We’ve been talking to some other schools about possibly scrimmaging, but we may have to have a couple of schools to play so we don’t even know yet, simply because the league hasn’t decided what we’re doing,” Gaffney said.

The head coach is excited about the class of incoming freshmen who will join the Commodores this year.

“We think we’ve got a few diamonds in the rough,” Gaffney said.

Roman Wilson, who was a top-rated recruit coming out of high school in Kansas City is joining the team. Simeon German from Nigeria who originally signed with Chipola will join the Commodores instead. Point guard Kyrie Taylor out of New York City is also coming to Panama City. Keelan Wickersham of Las Vegas will join the team as a guard.

There will also be two players from the Atlanta area in the freshman class.

“I think we found a bunch of guys that fit our system, they’re long, they’re athletic, they fit the press, they fit our running style,” Gaffney.

Players will be back on campus when classes begin in less than two weeks.

“It’s gonna be really crowded with all the sports going at the same time which will make for fun in the springtime when everybody has games,” Gaffney said.

Gaffney also said he is enjoying working with new head women’s basketball coach Cayla Petree.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that she will have great teams here, be super competitive, win a lot a games,” he said.

Last week coach Scovel’s name was put on the court, a final touch after the college’s gym was redone. The court dedication is a reminder that Petree will attempt to fill the shoes a legend is leaving behind.

“You’re replacing the woman who’s name’s on the court who’s the best coach ever in JUCO women’s basketball one of the best coaches ever in college basketball, so if you can replace her get coach of the year in the nation I think that’s pretty good,” Gaffney said.

The men’s and women’s basketball season will begin on Jan. 20.

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