Nothing but love from Kidd

Mar. 10, 2014 @ 09:07 PM

Folks have asked me how N.C. Central’s 25-5 basketball team would have done if Stanton Kidd hadn’t left the squad.

So I asked him.

“You never know, man. I can’t really speak on that,” Kidd said. “You never know. Last year’s team was last year’s team, and this year’s team is this year’s team for them.”

Kidd sounds like his old coach.

“Last year’s team is last year’s team, and this year’s team is this year’s team,” NCCU coach LeVelle Moton said. “The guys from last year have to learn from the mistakes that were made last year, and that was not being ready to play come tournament time as far as taking plays off, and so forth and so on.”

NCCU lost to N.C. A&T in the 2013 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament after beating the Aggies twice during the regular season.

A&T won the MEAC Tournament and went to the NCAA Tournament.

NCCU went home.

Kidd last season was NCCU’s second-leading scorer, No. 3 in the MEAC.

But Kidd took his 6-foot-7-inch, 215-pound body and 14.5 points per game to Colorado State. He said he needed to be on a team that allowed him to face the basket more. The kid wants to be a pro someday.

The running joke in the MEAC is that if a coach has a guy averaging 15 points a game, then that coach needs to re-recruit the young man to make sure another school doesn’t snatch him, Moton said.

It’s honest talk, because even the coaches at MEAC schools and other historically black colleges and universities desire to do what they do at the highest level, Moton said, wishing Kidd nothing but the best.

“We thank him for what he contributed to our program, and we move on,” Moton said.

Moton reloaded. Solid recruiting allowed the next-man-up approach to work for NCCU. Newcomer Jordan Parks (6-7, 200), a hybrid guard, has been killing it.

It took Parks a minute to catch on, but that’s common for guys transitioning from junior college basketball, Moton said.

Kidd was special because he was able to contribute from Day 1, Moton said.

In other words, NCCU lost quite a bit when Kidd left. The guy would have been the MEAC’s preseason player of the year, Moton said.

But stuff has to fit properly. That’s true whether you’re  trying on clothes or trying for championships, and Kidd gets that.

“I could be playing (for NCCU) and we wouldn’t be doing the same thing they’re doing right now, or I could be doing the same thing with them. You never know,” Kidd said. “That’s why you recruit, and they got better.”

Because Kidd transferred from one Division I program to another, NCAA rules required him to sit out this season. He said the down time allowed him to be a fan and appreciate what his former teammates have been up to.

Kidd has sort of flown along with the Eagles as NCCU point guard Emanuel “Poobie” Chapman became the most prolific assist man in school history.

NCCU guard Alfonzo Houston didn’t get tons of minutes a year ago playing behind Ray Willis, who went on to hoop professionally overseas. But Houston this season is one of the main ingredients as a starter on an NCCU team that lost just one time in the MEAC.

“It’s good to see Alfonzo blossom into the player that he is,” Kidd said.

NCCU’s Jeremy Ingram has been in full bloom.

“Seeing how Jeremy is taking over that conference by himself — no question, he should be player of the year,” Kidd said.

Kidd said that last week.

On Monday, the MEAC announced that Ingram is the league’s player of the year.

Kidd said he speaks with NCCU sophomore Dante Holmes several times a week. They’ve known each other since they were kids, buddies from Baltimore.

This isn’t one of those things where Kidd wishes he’d kept soaring with the Eagles, who look even more ready than they did last year to win the MEAC Tournament and swoop into the NCAA Tournament.

No, Kidd is good with his decision to transfer. He’s just showing love.

“I’m happy for them all the way around. Never been no hard feelings with those guys,” Kidd said. “It’s a good thing for them, especially for Poobie and Jeremy, man. They’re four-year guys. For them to go out like that and do something we couldn’t do last year, that’s great for them.”

Like most college basketball teams, NCCU has seen its share of players who’ve transferred both into and out of the program. Ingram and Chapman are the first guys Moton has coached for four years.

 “That program is going to be one of the next top mid-major programs, man, especially with the kids they’re going to get next year,” Kidd said. “It’ll be a blessing to see them get to the NCAA Tournament.”

Reach John McCann on Twitter @johntmccann or email him at jmccann@heraldsun.com.