NCCU's newbies to grow up fast as MEAC action heats up
N.C. Central’s newcomers have shown promise.
The problem is, they’re newcomers, NCCU coach LeVelle Moton said.
“They’re in fourth grade, and they’ve got to go to 12,” Moton said. “Right now, we’ve had to hold a couple of them back a grade because they haven’t mastered the curriculum.”
Among the new guys, Stanton Kidd (6-7, 215) is the only one who regularly starts for NCCU, although guards Alfonzo Houston and Drimir Ferguson get quality playing time.
On Tuesday, when NCCU spanked Virginia University of Lynchburg 97-28, Kidd had a double-double — 12 points, 11 rebounds.
Moton wasn’t particularly impressed.
“The numbers are what they were, but I think those are fictitious,” Moton said. “This is what God gave him —12 and 11. For him to maximize his God-given ability, you’ll see 16 and 15 on this paper every night. He’s capable of that.”
NCCU (8-7, 1-0 MEAC) needs Kidd to put up strong numbers, because the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference doesn’t suffer halfhearted squads, to hear Moton tell it.
The VUL game was NCCU’s final non-conference tune-up before getting heavy into its MEAC schedule this weekend.
In December, NCCU went on the road and beat MEAC rival N.C. A&T, but Saturday it’s full tilt into MEAC play with a game against Florida A&M in Tallahassee.
Kidd transferred to NCCU from South Plains College, a Texas team that won the 2011-12 National Junior College Athletic Association championship with a 36-0 record.
In other words, Kidd is used to winning, but he’s found it difficult to consistently transfer his success at the junior college level to Division I.
“It’s a learning process with anybody,” NCCU point guard Emanuel Chapman said. “With Stanton Kidd coming from a program where they didn’t lose a game, coming into the MEAC, it’s an adjustment.”
“Me being a juco transfer, I’ve been kind of behind on learning the plays,” Kidd said.
NCCU sophomore forward Karamo “K.J.” Jawara (6-8, 220) has been holding Kidd’s hand, showing him the ropes.
“K.J.’s been, like, my guardian angel,” Kidd said. “When I got here, I didn’t come in thinking I was better than anybody or nothing like that. I just came in and tried to fit in.”
Kidd said he had to learn how to score in Moton’s system and said the Division I game is played at a faster pace than junior college.
“It’s not that easy,” Kidd said about adjusting at NCCU. “It’s a different system.”
Kidd can help his cause by being more disciplined in practice, Moton said.
“Stanton — he has to learn how to bring it every single day in practice,” Moton said.
Moton added that Houston has to learn to be engaged off the ball, sprinting down the court for potential layups.
“He’s so accustomed to just dominating the ball, not used to playing without the ball,” Moton said.
Earlier in the season, Moton talked about not being able to leave Ferguson in the game for extended periods because the point guard’s comprehension of the playbook wasn’t where it needed to be.
Chapman, a junior from Raleigh, put himself right there with the newbies.
“Everybody had to make an adjustment,” Chapman said. “I had to make an adjustment, because my role on this team isn’t the same. So we all had to make an adjustment; it was just a bigger adjustment for them.”
NOTES — Forward Jay Copeland returned to the NCCU lineup the other night against VUL and scored nine points to go with three rebounds, bouncing back after injuring a ligament on the side of his knee in December.
“It’s hard to hurt it, too,” Copeland said.
Copeland, a redshirt sophomore transfer from Ball State, said he has to get his legs back in shape after the layoff, but otherwise felt fine getting up and down the floor in McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium.
“I felt good breathing-wise,” Copeland said. “My wind was there.”
... NCCU basketball got a boost on Christmas Day when freshman Rashawn King was featured during halftime of a nationally televised Thunder-Heat NBA game. ESPN’s Rachel Nichols talked to King about his battle with leukemia, about meeting LeBron James at PNC Arena in Raleigh — King’s hometown —and realizing his dream of playing college ball. Since then, the flu bug landed on King, causing him to miss NCCU’s VUL blowout and an opportunity for playing time.
“I wish he would have been here, because it would have been a great game for him to play,” Moton said later.