Rob Dauster

Howard guard James Daniel (11) dribbles the ball past Rutgers guard Mike Williams during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015, in Piscataway, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
AP Photo/Mel Evans

MEAC Preview: Learn the name James Daniel

Leave a comment

Beginning in September and running up through November 11th, the first day of the regular season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2016-2017 college hoops preview package.

Today, we are previewing the MEAC.

Believe it or not, the MEAC actually sent four teams to postseason tournaments in 2016, as Hampton won the league’s automatic bid while Norfolk State, Savannah State and South Carolina State all earned themselves a trip to the CIT.

The name to know in the MEAC this season is Howard‘s James Daniel, the reigning MEAC Player of the Year and the nation’s leading scorer last year at 27.1 points. The Bison finished just 6-10 in league play a year ago, but much of that was the result of injuries depleting the team’s ranks. Marcel Boyd, who is one of the best bigs in the conference, returns, as does James Miller, a 6-foot-4 redshirt junior who played just five games last year. With all that talent and experience returning, don’t be surprised to see Kevin Nickelberry’s club compete for a league title this year.

They likely won’t be the favorite entering the season, however, not as long as South Carolina State is still in the conference. The Bulldogs were a program in disarray earlier this decade, but with three of their top four scorers returning – including a sleeper for MEAC Player of the Year in E.J. Eaves – Murray Garvin has a team with the talent to make a return run to the NCAA tournament.

Hampton is the two-time reigning MEAC tournament champ and, given marquee matchups against Kentucky and Virginia, a win in the 2015 First Four and given head coach Ed Joyner’s penchant for holding headline-worthy press conferences, it’s probably fair to say that the Pirates are the marquee program in the league right now. But that doesn’t guarantee a three-peat, not when Hampton is losing four starters off of last year’s team.

Norfolk State made their fifth consecutive trip to a postseason tournament last season by accepting a bid to the CIT, but the Spartans will have their work cut out for them to get back this season. The program’s three top scorers all graduated, and Jordan Butler, who averaged 7.5 points last season, will be asked to be the leader of this unit. They might be able to compete if transfers Kerwin Okoro (Iowa State and Rutgers) and Carrington Ward (North Texas) pan out.

LeVelle Moton led N.C. Central to a stellar, 46-2 three-year run through the MEAC prior to the start of last season, but their roster turnover cause a drop-off last season. The Eagles finished 7-9 in league play and lose three starters. Bethune-Cookman had a chance to make a real push at a league title before Laron Smith opted to take advantage of the chance to be a grad transfer. He’ll be playing his final season at Auburn while the Wildcats will be looking to replace three starters.

MORE: 2016-17 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule



He was the Player of the Year last season when he was the nation’s leading scorer on a bad Howard team. This year, Daniel should score just as much, but the Bison should be much better. This is an easy pick.


  • Marcel Boyd, Howard: The Bison should have the best guard and the best big man in the league.
  • E.J. Eaves, South Carolina State: Eaves probably has the best chance to unseat Daniel as MEAC POY, but that would probably require SCSU to run away with the league title.
  • Jordan Potts, Bethune-Cookman: A second-team all-MEAC player last season, Potts averaged 16.0 points and 4.3 assists.
  • Sam Hunt, North Carolina A&T: Hunt is one of just four returning players to be named to one of the league’s three all-MEAC teams last year. There’s no word on if he broke up with anyone in a small town.


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

Lonzo Ball poised to bring prep hype to UCLA basketball

Lonzo Ball (UCLA Athletics)
UCLA Athletics
Leave a comment

LOS ANGELES — UCLA is poised to unveil the strongest recruiting class coach Steve Alford has brought to Westwood, led by Lonzo Ball and T.J. Leaf.

Their arrival comes just in time.

The Bruins were 15-17 last season, only the school’s fourth losing season since John Wooden arrived in 1948. Alford, who wasn’t a popular hire four years ago, returned a one-year contract extension he signed after his first season and wrote an apology letter to fans.

Now, he’s hoping Ball, Leaf and fellow freshman Ike Anigbogu are the answer to getting the Bruins back to the postseason.

Alford’s challenge lies in blending the talented trio with veterans like his son Bryce, fellow senior Isaac Hamilton and junior big man Thomas Welsh while improving the Bruins’ defense that has never been ranked higher than eighth under him.

“We messed around with doing too many different things last year,” Alford said Wednesday. “Last year for the first time in a long time with my teams, we didn’t get better month to month. That’s what was frustrating and we ended up having a bad year. Now what do you do moving forward? How do you handle that adversity?”

The Bruins return most of their roster, with the exception of Tony Parker who graduated and Jonah Bolden who left school over the summer to pursue a pro career.

The arrival of Ball brings to mind such previously hyped freshmen as Kevin Love, Kevon Looney and Shabazz Muhammad, all one-and-done players who made a mark during brief stays in Westwood.

“There’s going to be a lot of hype around you, but you got to realize that once you start college a lot of those things have nothing to do with anything,” Alford said. “It is a start over, it is a new level, just like when you get to the NBA, what you did in college means nothing.”

Ball led nearby Chino Hills High to a California state title and undefeated season as a senior who earned national player of the year honors.

“The vets are ready to win, we’re ready to win and I’m just going to do what I can to contribute to that,” he said.

Leaf, a 6-foot-9 forward from suburban San Diego, was a McDonald’s All-American who scored 3,022 points in his prep career.

At 6-10 and 250 pounds, Anigbogu lends some heft in the middle and gives the Bruins a different kind of center than Welsh, a 7-footer with a more delicate touch.

Ball’s arrival figures to have the biggest effect on the younger Alford, who averaged 16.1 points in a team-high 36.2 minutes last season. The senior guard is used to taking the last shot with the game on the line and he has handled the bulk of the ball-handling the last two years.

With Ball’s playmaking ability and passing skills, Alford can slide over to the `2′ spot.

“Now I can finally get back to what I do best off the ball and having a guy like him will really help,” Alford said. “He’s probably the best passer I’ve ever played with, along with Kyle Anderson. He’s going to bring a lot of different aspects that we haven’t had in a while.”

All eyes on Markelle Fultz as Washington gets started

Markelle Fultz, via UW Athletics
UW Athletics
Leave a comment

SEATTLE — Markelle Fultz walked into the room Wednesday and was immediately engulfed.

Of all the eventual NBA players Washington coach Lorenzo Romar has brought into his program over the past 15 years, none came in matching the talent or hype that Fultz brings as a freshman.

“Here at the University of Washington, coming in the door, I think he’s the best,” Romar said.

Washington’s first regular-season game is still a month away, but the buzz surrounding Fultz – a 6-foot-4 guard – has been building for months. Whether it’s because of his performance as part of the U.S. national team at the under-18 FIBA Americas tournament in July in Chile or during Washington’s summer overseas tour of Australia and New Zealand, Fultz is the focal point for the Huskies as the season draws closer.

Futlz arrives at Washington as perhaps the most decorated recruit ever. When Romar first made contact with Fultz, he was regarded as a top prospect, but not among the elite of his recruiting class. By the time he plays his first regular-season game for the Huskies on Nov. 13 against Yale, Fultz will step on the court as a presumptive top 5 pick in next June’s NBA draft.

He understands the attention. So do his teammates.

“Markelle is impressive. He does things in practice where we might be on the sidelines or something and I’ll look over at someone and be like, `Did he just do that? Is that real life?”‘ forward Matisse Thybulle said. “He’s a special player.”

A year ago, Washington was an unknown because of its youth. And while the Huskies’ group of freshmen grew up quickly, there were still enough mistakes made that another March came and went without an NCAA Tournament appearance. The Huskies finished 19-15 and lost in the second round of the NIT. It was the fifth straight season the Huskies missed the NCAA Tournament, increasing the external debate over Romar’s future.

For his part, Romar said it’s not pressure he’s feeling, but anticipation about how this year could play out.

“We want to get to that tournament. We want to be the best that we can be. We can’t wait for practice. I don’t define pressure that way,” Romar said. “‘Ready to get going. We get another shot at this now, we’re going to make this happen.’ That’s how I feel.”

The Huskies lost their top three scorers from a year ago with the graduation of guard Andrew Andrews (20.9 points per game), and the early departures of first-round NBA picks Dejounte Murray (16.1) and Marquese Chriss (13.7). No returning player averaged more than Noah Dickerson’s 7.5 points per game.

But Romar is confident the scoring void will be filled by others. Fultz will clearly take his share, with others like Malik Dime, David Crisp and Dominic Green expected to increase their contributions from a year ago.

“I think we can have more guys averaging double figures than we’ve had in probably the last five years,” Romar said. “There are guys that are capable of stepping up.”

ACC moves women’s basketball tournament to South Carolina

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 25:  John Swofford, ACC Commissioner (C) addresses the media during a press conference to announce the New Era Pinstripe Bowl's multi-year partnership with the Atlantic Coast Conference at Yankee Stadium on June 25, 2013 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jason Szenes/Getty Images)
Getty Images
1 Comment

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Atlantic Coast Conference is moving its women’s basketball tournament to South Carolina after relocating it from North Carolina because of a law that restricts the rights of LGBT people.

League officials announced Wednesday that the tournament is headed to Myrtle Beach. The ACC pulled 10 neutral-site championships out of North Carolina last month because of the law.

Coastal Carolina will host the tournament from March 1-5. It’s the conference’s seventh appearance in the state of South Carolina and first since a five-year run in Rock Hill from 1992-96.

ACC women’s basketball associate commissioner Nora Lynn Finch said the conference also was looking at Florida and Virginia as possible sites.

She didn’t know if Myrtle Beach was going to be a one-year site.

UNC’s Roy Williams: ‘I’ve softened my stance a great deal on Kaepernick’


Roy Williams spoke to reporters at North Carolina’s media day on Tuesday, and he was asked about Colin Kaepernick’s protesting of the national anthem.

“When he did it, at first, it made me very angry,” Williams said. “The guy’s making 19 million dollars, what do you have to say against our country? Then, he explained himself more. I listened better. He wasn’t saying this was a bad country, that we have not just one particular problem, but one particular problem that he’s taking a stance on.”

“I think he’s correct. I told that to the team”

Kaepernick began protesting police violence against minorities during the San Francisco 49ers’ preseason games, and his protest has continued into the season. He’s been joined in protest by players all around the NFL as well as athletes in other sports.

The issue is topical for the Tar Heels, as the death of a black man at the hands of police in North Carolina spawned violent protests in Charlotte last month.

“After what happened in Charlotte, I had two guys come up to me and ask me my opinion on that,” Williams said, adding that his team all stood together in one group in the end zone at UNC’s first football game this season. He also added that he’ll “be with” anyone on his team that opts to protest during the season. “Tell me, the only thing I want you to do,” Williams said. “I’ll be with you, I may disagree, but I’ll be with you. Just don’t surprise me.”

“I would, if somebody came in and said, ‘Coach I want to do this,’ I would try to understand what he’s saying and try to give him my point of view and then hopefully a decision would be made.”

That’s the best way to handle it for a coach. You cannot be the white coach telling the black players they cannot stand up for a cause they believe. That’s the easiest way to kill yourself on the recruiting trail. But being prepared to control the message in the media, particularly in a state like North Carolina, which lost the ability to host ACC and NCAA postseason games due to the discriminatory HB2 law, is a measure of protection for the athlete and the program.

“I’ve softened my stance a great deal on Kaepernick,” He said. “I’m about as patriotic as anyone can possibly be, but it’s a very important issue right now.”

With Paige gone, Berry takes lead in Tar Heels’ backcourt

North Carolina guard Joel Berry II (2) moves the ball against Providence during the first half of a second-round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Saturday, March 19, 2016, in Raleigh, N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
AP Photo/Gerry Broome
Leave a comment

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) Joel Berry II knows what awaits him this year at North Carolina.

He’s coming off a big year in which his offensive output and floor game blossomed for a team that won the Atlantic Coast Conference championship and played for the NCAA title. And with four-year starter Marcus Paige gone, Berry enters his junior season looking like the top candidate to take Paige’s role as the guy to entrust with a taking a big shot.

“It’s something that’s just a part of the game and just part of being here at this school,” Berry said Tuesday during UNC’s preseason media day. “There’s times where it’s going to be on you to make a big shot. I’m going to just try to approach it like I did last year: I’m not going to try to force anything.

“If the ball is in my hand and I have the open shot, I’m going to take it. But other than that, I’m going to just try to do what I can to lead this team to victory and do whatever it takes.”

Berry was the Tar Heels’ No. 2 scorer last year (12.8 points) behind Associated Press All-American Brice Johnson inside. He was also the team’s best outside shooter (38 percent from 3-point range) and played the point, leading the team in assists and steals as well as in free-throw percentage (86.7).

But he had Paige roaming the backcourt alongside him and Johnson in the post all that time. The difference is now Berry will likely be at or near the top of every defensive scouting report, one of three returning starters from a team that reached the program’s first Final Four since 2009.

As Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams put it: “Nobody left Marcus Paige to go guard Joel last year.”

Still, the 6-foot native of Apopka, Florida and a former McDonald’s All-American, has been reliable in big moments – especially when it comes to providing toughness and a competitive edge to UNC’s perimeter play.

He hit a critical 3-pointer with 3:06 left in a November comeback against Kansas State after managing just one shot the entire game. He shook off another frustrating game by taking over in the final 5 minutes of a league win against Georgia Tech.

After shaky performances in losses to Louisville and Duke, Berry scored in double figures in 13 of the last 14 games, the exception being a 10-assist, 1-turnover game against Syracuse in the Final Four.

Along the way, he was named MVP of the Tar Heels’ run to the first ACC Tournament title and scored 20 points – including making all four of his 3-point tries – in the loss to Villanova in the NCAA final.

The burden on Berry to keep it going will only grow once the Tar Heels tip off the season Nov. 11 at Tulane.

“Whenever he competes, that’s whenever he’s at his best,” fellow junior Justin Jackson said. “What he did last year was great, we just need him to keep that going through this year.”

Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at and the AP’s college basketball site at