Norfolk State Athletics

2013-2014 MEAC Preview: Norfolk State to dance once again

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Norfolk State Athletics

All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To see the rest of the Conference Previews we’ve published, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

Norfolk State, a season after advancing to the Round of 32, went a perfect 16-0 to win the MEAC regular season title last season. Dreams of a return trip to the NCAA tournament were dashed when Adrien Coleman and eighth-seeded Bethune-Cookman took down the Spartans in overtime, 70-68, in the MEAC tournament quarterfinals. Norfolk State had to settle for the NIT, losing to Virginia in the first round.

Head coach Anthony Evans took the vacancy at Florida International in mid-April, once Richard Pitino left for Minnesota. Robert Jones has taken over the program in the interim, and if his team can live up to the hype, Norfolk State will likely remove that interim label as the Spartans for the third straight year are eyeing the NCAA tournament. Norfolk State returns four starters, including reigning MEAC Player of the Year Pendarvis Williams.

The MEAC tournament has been unpredicatable in recent seasons with the last three regular season champions not gaining the automatic berth for the NCAA tournament. Norfolk State is the clear-cut favorite, and will take no one lightly in tournament play following last year’s upset, but the Spartans will have some competition. North Carolina Central finished only a game back of Norfolk State last year, and the Eagles bring back the versatile Jeremy Ingram. Morgan State and Hampton both return four starters. Even towards the middle of the pack, a team like Florida A&M could cause chaos in the MEAC this season with a backcourt of Jamie Adams, Reggie Lewis and Muhammad Abdul-Aleem.

PRESEASON MEAC PLAYER OF THE YEAR:  Pendarvis Williams, Norfolk State

The 6-foot-6 guard was named MEAC Player of the Year after a junior season averaging 14.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.1 steals per game for the Spartans. Kyle O’Quinn obviously deserves the credit he received during the 2012 season, but don’t forget Williams had 20 points, four rebounds and two assists in the NCAA tournament upset over Missouri. The Philadelphia native is a pro prospect, looking to join O’Quinn, now with the Orlando Magic, in the NBA.

FOUR MORE NAMES TO KNOW:

  • Jeremy Ingram, North Carolina Central: Was second in the conference in scoring at 15.7 per contest, going for 20 or more eight times in 2012-2013.
  • Justin Black, Morgan State: Posted 14.2 points per game last year. Will get help from Shaquille Duncan and Blake Bozeman this season.
  • Lamont Middleton, North Carolina A&T: Key piece from last season’s NCAA tournament team. One of two starters returning on a team with nine newcomers
  • Jamie Adams, Florida A&M: Top scorer for the Rattlers at 14.0 points per game. Leading the conference’s best perimeter attack.

ONE TWITTER FEED TO FOLLOW: @MEAC1970

PREDICTED FINISH:

1. Norfolk State
2. North Carolina Central
3. Morgan State
4. Hampton
5. Savannah State
6. Coppin State
7. Florida A&M
8. Bethune-Cookman
9. North Carolina A&T
10. Maryland-Eastern Shore
11. Delaware State
12. South Carolina State
13. Howard

Cody Riley cuts list to five schools

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Cody Riley has cut his list to five schools, according to Scout.com.

A four-star four man, Riley is now considering just UConn, Kansas, Oklahoma, UCLA and USC.

Ranked the No. 29 player in the Class of 2017 by Rivals, Riley is an undersized-but-powerful forward. His bread and butter is on the block, where his strength and low center of gravity make him a nightmare to deal with, but he’s also skilled enough to do damage as a face-up four.

Riley is from California and will be playing his senior season alongside Marvin Bagley III, the No. 1 player in the Class of 2018, at Sierra Canyon.

Auburn continues to stockpile talent, adds top 50 prospect in 2017

Bruce Pearl
AP Photo/Mark Humphrey
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Auburn’s hire of Bruce Pearl was almost universally lauded as the first step towards the return of relevance for the Tiger basketball program.

And while the results have yet to shine through on the floor, Pearl is unequivocally stockpiling the kind of talent that will allow him to push for trips to the NCAA tournament and maybe one day contend for a league crown with Kentucky.

The latest step came on Sunday, when Pearl landed a commitment from Chuma Okeke, a top 50 wing prospect out of Georgia.

“He is a versatile wing who can handle and score,” said NBCSports.com recruiting analyst Scott Phillips. “Coming off of a big July, Okeke could move up the national rankings and Auburn pounced on him right away.”

Okeke joins big man Austin Wiley, a top ten player in the class, and Davion Mitchell, who is likely one of the five best point guards in the country, in what is currently the nation’s best recruiting class in 2017. That’s before you consider that Pearl already has Mustapha Heron, a top 25 prospect, joining the mix this season.

“This group has the makings of a monster recruiting class for Auburn,” Phillips said.

Okeke picked the Tigers over Florida State, Georgia and a number of other programs across the southeast.

VIDEO: Watch Virginia freshman Jay Huff dunk from the free throw line

Tony Bennett
AP Photo/Nell Redmond
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Jay Huff is a member of Tony Bennett’s best recruiting class to date, a 6-foot-11 top 50 recruit from North Carolina.

He also happens to be pretty athletic.

Don’t believe me?

Check out this video that McDonald’s All-American Kyle Guy tweeted out on Sunday night:

Yup, that’s Huff taking off from the foul line to dunk.

Not bad, young fella.

Seton Hall’s Derrick Gordon won’t pursue pro basketball to become a firefighter

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12:  Derrick Gordon #32 of the Seton Hall Pirates celebrates after hitting a basket against the Villanova Wildcats during the Big East Basketball Tournament Championship at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2016 in New York City. Seton Hall Pirates defeated Villanova Wildcats 69-67.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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After a successful career that included stops at Western Kentucky, UMass and Seton Hall, Derrick Gordon, Division I college basketball’s first openly gay player, will not pursue professional opportunities and will instead become a firefighter.

The 6-foot-3 Gordon averaged 8.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a senior for the Pirates, helping the team reach the NCAA tournament during his graduate transfer year. By making the NCAA tournament with Seton Hall this past season, Gordon became the first college basketball player to reach the event with three different teams.

A tenacious perimeter defender who could have earned a pro contract if he stuck with basketball, Gordon will instead pursue a career as a firefighter in San Francisco.

“I’ve had an amazing basketball career and want to thank everybody who has always been there supporting me every step on the way,” Gordon said via his Instagram. “But I’m making a change in my career…I will now be working towards becoming a San Francisco Firefighter!! I’m excited about this and looking forward to having a long career!!”

While Gordon likely would have never made the NBA on talent alone, his defensive prowess would have likely given him a shot overseas or in the D League. It’s hard to say why Gordon is making this decision, but given what we saw with all of the attention surrounding Michael Sam when he tried to play in the NFL, Gordon was probably going to face a lot of scrutiny wherever he decided to play.

Hopefully Gordon finds his calling as a firefighter and brings the same energy and leadership that he brought on the floor to helping other people outside of basketball.

Washington guard Markelle Fultz pulls off sick spin and dunk at FIBA U18 Americas

Kelly Kline/Under Armour
Kelly Kline/Under Armour
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Washington incoming freshman guard Markelle Fultz is going to be one of the premier players in the country next season as his unique game is going to be fascinating to watch.

The 6-foot-5 Fultz is currently playing with the USA U18 team in Chile for the FIBA U18 Americas as he’s second on the team in scoring and first in assists as the Americans play Canada for the title on Saturday.

Against the host country, Fultz had an electric spin move in the paint and finished with an easy dunk. If you’re not willing to stay up late to watch this dude play this year, then set your DVRs, because Fultz is going to have some fun moments during the season.

(H/t: Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report)