Jawara introduces European flair into NCCU lineup
The “Euro step” N.C. Central forward Karamo “K.J.” Jawara uses to get to the basket is very legitimate.
The guy’s actually from Europe.
The sleight-of-feet can make the Euro step look like a traveling violation, but Jawara was using the move with its two exaggerated strides to finish at the rim when NCCU beat Morgan State 53-52 in McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium on Monday.
“That’s a slight Euro step. We talked about that a long time before y’all knew what a Euro step was,” Jawara said during a postgame interview. “I know that move from when I was 10 years old.”
Jawara, a junior from Norway, stepped to the free-throw line and delivered his most-critical blow to the Bears with .9 seconds left in the game. He hit one of two free throws, intentionally missing the second.
Morgan State’s Ian Chiles got the rebound, and the Bears used a timeout to set up a desperation shot that floundered.
That winning free throw was a piece of cake, Jawara said. He said his teammates gave him all the confidence in the world.
“They were smiling and laughing, and that made me comfortable, like it’s no pressure,” Jawara said. “They said, ‘Yo, you’ve got this. We’ve seen you knock down 50 free throws in a row.’ So that’s all I had to think about. I’m not going to let my teammates down. So I just had to knock it down.”
Jawara is averaging 7.1 points per game but had 13 points, six rebounds, two steals and an assist in the win that landed the Eagles in first place in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
The Bears were in the conversation for first place when they arrived at McDougald-McLendon. They went back to Baltimore in fifth place after some Monday-night movement in the MEAC.
“It wasn’t the prettiest win. We had to grind it out,” NCCU senior Jeremy Ingram said.
Jawara’s game was pretty, though. He’s 6-8, weighs 220 pounds and can bang on the court and play tough. But he even does that with a certain grace due in part to footwork he developed playing soccer as a kid.
Moton said Jawara has superior basketball smarts and describes him as the point guard for the team’s frontcourt, keeping NCCU’s big men in the right spots on the floor.
But Jawara flat-out needs to shoot the ball more, Moton said. His 13 points against Morgan State were right on time and the Eagles must get more of that out of him, Moton said.
“I’ve been screaming at K.J. for two years to be more aggressive,” Moton said. “He has to shoot the basketball and he has to attack the rim in order for us to be a better basketball team, and he’s done that. He’s really stepping up. He’s made some huge shots, some critical shots, and he’s allowed us to take the pressure off Jeremy, especially in critical times. Everybody thinks we’re going to Jeremy. Well, K.J, has taken it upon himself to step up and shoot huge shots, as well.”
Ingram is NCCU’s leading scorer at 19.6 points per game. He scored a game-high 20 points against Morgan State.