Eagles add size with recruiting class
N.C. Central’s basketball team has gotten bigger, taller and longer with the addition of six recruits averaging 6-7 inches and 204 pounds.
The new guys aren’t exactly giants, but they’re coming with size that the Eagles lacked a season ago while still running through the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
Three of NCCU’s recruits — sophomore guard Jamal Ferguson, junior forward Enoch Hood Jr. and junior center Nate Maxey — will have to sit for a year because of NCAA transfer rules regarding student-athletes transferring from one Division I school to another.
The best immediate contribution Maxey, Enoch and Ferguson can provide will be pushing the Eagles in practice, which will include newcomers Ramon Eaton, Reggie Groves and Jordan Parks, who are eligible to play right away.
Maxey (6-11, 225) is moving from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Hood (6-9, 215) was at James Madison and Ferguson (6-5, 180) had a spot on the Marquette squad that made it to the Elite Eight the NCAA Tournament.
“Obviously, he’s no stranger to success,” Moton said about Ferguson, who didn’t play a lot during his lone season at Marquette. “His speed, quickness, athleticism and strength present problems for opposing teams on a consistent basis.”
Hood averaged 11.2 minutes of playing time and three points per game for James Madison, which also was in the NCAA Tournament.
“Enoch Hood addresses our need for length and athleticism on the baseline,” Moton said. “His ability to play above the rim, block shots and rebound should have a profound impact on our program.”
Maxey started five games during his sophomore season at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, setting a school record with 57 blocked shots. He averaged 4.5 points in 15.3 minutes per game.
“In all my years of coaching, I have never coached a player like Nate Maxey,” Moton said. “Nate’s length, athleticism and shot-blocking ability are the first things that come to mind when you see him. After having broken the school’s record for blocked shots this past season, you can see he is a defensive force.
“With continued hard work, the sky is definitely the limit for this young man.”
Eaton (6-8, 225), a forward, played his freshman season at Pepperdine before suiting up as a sophomore for New Mexico Junior College, where he averaged five points and 3.6 rebounds per game.
“Ramon is a former three-star recruit that possesses the unique ability of shooting, athleticism and scoring the ball in a variety of ways,” Moton said. “His skill level is really advanced, and we look forward to him contributing right away.”
Groves (6-2, 190) heads to NCCU as a redshirt senior guard from Canisius College, where he averaged 3.5 points. He is from Raleigh, where he played for Moton at Sanderson High School, finishing his prep career at Raleigh’s Word Of God Christian Academy. Groves has spent time in Durham, playing at Mount Zion Christian Academy.
“I’ve known and coached Reggie since he was a kid,” Moton said. “He’s a combo guard that is physically strong and tough.”
Parks (6-7, 190 ) is a junior forward from College of Central Florida, where he started in 33 games and averaged 10.8 points.
“He will give us the hybrid dynamic which is essential to success in the MEAC,” Moton said about Parks. “His athleticism is off the charts, and his defensive ability to guard all five positions will serve us well.”
Moton described the recruits as high-character guys who come from solid families.
In terms of size, Moton has filled the void from Stanton Kidd’s recent departure from the program. What remains to be seen is whether the newcomers will be as productive as Kidd (6-7, 215), who was the team’s second leading scorer and the MEAC’s No. 3 scorer at 14.7 points per game.
NCCU also lost backup point guard Drimir Ferguson and reserve forward DavRon Williams due to their decisions to transfer.
Ray Willis (6-6, 164), who started at shooting guard for NCCU, has used up his eligibility.
NCCU is coming off a 22-9 season, the first time that the school reached the benchmark 20-win standard as a Division I program.
The Eagles were 15-1 in the MEAC during the regular season, their only league loss coming against Savannah State. N.C. A&T ended NCCU’ s season in the quarterfinals of the MEAC Tournament, the Eagles’ first game of the postseason.