Eagles start working toward another 20-win season

Sep. 29, 2013 @ 11:15 PM

N.C. Central will get up and down the court today to begin practicing toward parlaying the momentum from its first 20-win season as a Division I program.

The Eagles were 22-9, and a good bit of last season’s success had to do with 6-7 forward Stanton Kidd putting in work as the No. 3 scorer in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. His 14.5 points per game made him NCCU’s No. 2 point producer.

Kidd landed at Colorado State, a place that he believes will allow him to face the basket more and improve his chances of getting to the National Basketball Association. He’ll miss this season due to NCAA transfer rules regarding student-athletes moving from one Division I school to another.

The 12 points per game that 6-6 guard Ray Willis gave the Eagles will be tied up in Slovakia, where he’ll begin his professional basketball career. Willis was the second-best free-throw shooter in the MEAC.

Of course, NCCU basketball coach LeVelle Moton has been working on his game, adding to what was subtracted from his roster and then some. Moton will draw up some schemes to get that talent to fit with the return of the No. 1 set-up man in the MEAC who’ll have the league’s No. 2 scorer waiting on the wing.

Senior point guard Emanuel Chapman is 10 assists away from becoming NCCU’s all-time leader in that category. During his NCCU career, 400 of his passes turned into points. Last season, Chapman (6-1, 160) led the MEAC in assists with 5.8 per game, and his ratio of 180 assists for every 85 turnovers was tops in the conference.

NCCU senior guard Jeremy Ingram (6-3, 175) likely will have a hand in helping Chapman become the Eagles’ all-time assists leader. Ingram was NCCU’s top scorer at 15.7 points per game.

Forward Jay Copeland (6-7, 255), who averaged 7.3 points and 4.4 rebounds per game,

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is expected to get some help in the post from newcomer Ramon Eaton.

“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.”

Eaton (6-8, 225) can step out and knock down 3-pointers, too. He shot 31.1 percent from behind the arc last season at New Mexico Junior College

Newcomer Jordan Parks (6-7, 190) is a long guard from the College of Central Florida. He helped that team win the 2012-13 National Junior College Athletic Association championship with his 10.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.

“He will give us the hybrid dynamic which is essential to success in the MEAC,” Moton said. “His athleticism is off the charts, and his defensive ability to guard all five positions will serve us well.”

Former Florida Gulf Coast guard Dante Holmes (6-3, 185) joined NCCU during the middle of last season and will be eligible to play for the Eagles this season when the second semester starts. Holmes was one of the top rookies in the Atlantic Sun Conference, averaging 8.4 points a game in 11 starts. He shot 47 percent from the field and scored in double figures 11 times in his final 20 games at FGCU.

Three of NCCU’s eight additions — sophomore guard Jamal Ferguson, junior forward Enoch Hood Jr. and junior center Nate Maxey — won’t play this season because of NCAA transfer rules.

Maxey (6-11, 225) comes to NCCU from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi; Hood (6-9, 215) was at James Madison and Ferguson (6-5, 180) had a spot on last season’s Marquette squad that made it to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament.

Marquette beat NCCU 75-66 last season. NCCU doesn’t play the Golden Eagles this time around but opens Nov. 8 at Cincinnati before dates with N.C. State, Old Dominion, Wichita State and Maryland. Appalachian State comes to NCCU’s McLendon-McDougald Gymnasium on Nov. 22.