Mt. Juliet's Sanders selects MC basketball for college career

Mt. Juliet's Sanders selects MC basketball for college career

J.R. Sanders, a senior at Mt. Juliet High School, has committed to continue his education and collegiate basketball career at Maryville College in Maryville, Tenn.

Sanders, a Mt. Juliet, Tenn. native, played his high school basketball under the direction of Head Coach Troy Allen. During his tenure with the Golden Bears, this 5-foot-11, 165-pound point guard has earned numerous accolades over the past two seasons. As a junior, Sanders earned District 9-AAA All-District honors, before being named the District 9-AAA Most Valuable Player during his senior campaign.

This talented guard led the Golden Bears to a 23-11 mark during his senior season, while going 11-3 in district play. The squad finished third in the District Tournament – a tournament Sanders earned All-District Tournament honors in during 2015-16. Griswould led Mt. Juliet to a Runners-up performance in the Region 5-AAA Tournament, earning All-Tournament accolades. He was also named to the TN Prep Hoops All-Region team following his senior campaign.

Sanders averaged 13 points, four assists and 1.5 steals per game during his senior season, while shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc. He is a 76 percent free-throw shooter.

"J.R. comes to us from an excellent high school program," Maryville College Head Basketball Coach Randy Lambert said. "He is an explosive guard who has the speed and strength to play on the college level. With continued development and experience, our coaches believe he will be an asset to our program."

Sanders is the son of Denise and Chris Hamilton.

He joins a Maryville College program that has been led by Lambert for the past 37 seasons. With 679 career victories, Lambert is one of the most successful NCAA Division III coaches. He is currently ranked fourth in the country among active head coaches and ninth among all-time coaches for most victories. Backed by its consistency in winning and its up-tempo style of play, his program is considered one of the best in the nation.

Last season, the Scots won a share of the USA South Athletic Conference Regular Season Title, while rattling off their 18th 20-plus win season with a 20-7 record. Lambert led Spencer Shoffner to become the first USA South Player of the Year for the program in 2016, while guiding five Scots to All-American mentions during his tenure in Bobby Golden, Sidney Ellis, Eryk Watson, Greg Hernandez and Jaumonee Byrd. Lambert has led Maryville to 18 National Tournament appearances – 12 straight – including three Sweet 16 appearances and one Elite 8 showing in 1990-1991.

Lambert graduated from Maryville High School in 1972, before playing basketball at Maryville College. He was a four-year starter for the Scots, garnering numerous honors, including the 16th-leading scorer in the nation during his senior year. With 1,489 career points, he is currently listed as the sixth-leading scorer in MC basketball history.

Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2016 semester was 1,197.