Consider it the appetizer before the main course.
For the fifth straight year, the John A. Logan men's basketball team will hold the annual Midwest Jamboree, once again at the SIU Recreation Center in Carbondale on Sunday.
The event, which starts at noon, features 16 teams and for Volunteers head coach Kyle Smithpeters the chance to see a different color jersey prior to his teams season opener on Nov. 5 is beneficial from a measuring stick standpoint.
The Vols just returned from a jamboree over the weekend in Vincennes, where JALC beat Highland, Bosco Institute and Henry Ford and had a very successful run in Alabama, where the Vols only had eight players.
"It's just nice to play someone else," Smithpeters said. O'ur guys have worked really hard and a lot of our guys have been here since June just getting after it. It's just nice now to have our full group together and seeing how we stack up against everyone else. I've really been pleased with this groups maturity and work ethic. They've approached everything like professionals and it's nice to see."
JALC, who went 18-5 last year, returns seven players including Pinckneyville's Dawson Yates, Marion's Jackson Connor and Carterville's Justin Johnson and Austin Garbe, along with Cam Alford, Teon Nesbitt and Derrick Reeves Jr.
A bulk of Smithpeters' roster come from the transfer portal with three newcomers
The Vols got Sean East (Bradley), Cobie Barnes (Indiana State), Tujautae Williams (Tennessee Tech), and Sarion McGee (Grambling), while first-year players include Justin Cross, Eli Downen (Carterville) and KJ Debrick.
Experience and maturity will be the X-factor according to Smithpeters this season.
"We picked up a bunch of Division 1 transfers, some older guys that you hope rub off on some of the younger guys. Despite not being in this program, they've played college basketball and we're used to that revolving door. That's just what college basketball is. We're going to bring in six, seven, eight or nine new guys every year and have to mesh and make it work. But I've been really pleased with how they compete, get a long and push each other."
Spyder Dann covers prep and college sports for the Southern Illinois LOCAL Media Group. Follow him on Twitter: @spydieshooter.
5th Annual Midwest JUCO Jamboree
Noon: Vincennes vs. Shelton State (Court 1), Triton vs. SWIC (Court 2), Olney vs. State Fair (Court 3)
1 PM: Wabash Valley vs. Moberly (C1), Olney vs. SE Iowa (C2), Three Rivers vs. Lake Land (C3)
2 PM: Vincennes vs. SE Iowa (C1), JALC vs. Shelton State (C2), Shawnee vs. Dyersburg State (C3)
3 PM: Wabash Valley vs. Triton (C1), SWIC vs. Shelton State (C2), Olney vs. Mineral Area (C3)
4 PM: Lincoln Trail vs. Moberly (C1), JALC vs. State Fair (C2), Vincennes vs. Three Rivers (C3)
5 PM: JALC vs. SE Iowa (C1), Wabash Valley vs. State Fair (C2), Triton vs. Lake Land (C3)
6 PM: SWIC vs. Moberly (C1), Shawnee vs. Mineral Area (C2), Lincoln Trail vs. Dyersburg State (C3)
7 PM: Shawnee vs. Three Rivers (C1), Dyersburg State vs. Lake Land (C2), Lincoln Trail vs. Mineral Area (C3)