NCCU: Can winning season carry over on recruiting trail?

Mar. 24, 2014 @ 02:40 PM

UConn guard Rodney Purvis, Maryland guard Dez Wells, guys like that?

N.C. Central coach LeVelle Moton knew Purvis and Wells when they were children, long before other college coaches became interested in what they could do for them.

One would think that Moton might have had a shot at getting Wells and Purvis, both from Raleigh, to stay close to home and play for NCCU.

Purvis actually started his college career at N.C. State, so it’s not like he was averse to playing in the Triangle.

But big-time players go to big-time schools.

Why, NCCU isn’t even included on scout.com, a reputable website that tracks recruiting for college sports.

That might need to change.

NCCU’s success in recent years culminated this season with the Eagles making the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history, boding well for recruiting.

Last week, Moton posted a message on Twitter about how NCCU paraphernalia was flying off the shelves at the campus bookstore.

Here in San Antonio during the second round of the NCAA Tournament, some of Iowa State’s players said they were preparing for NCCU as if the Eagles were the historically good Kansas Jayhawks.

What all of that means is NCCU may not be such a tough sell anymore.

James Kithcart is the father of Hillside High School sophomore Justice Kithcart, one of the better point guards in the state. James Kithcart said NCCU’s success does make him look a little harder at the Eagles’ nest as a potential landing spot for his son.

“I love the way NCCU has developed those guards,” James Kithcart said.

NCCU senior shooting guard Jeremy Ingram was the player of the year in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

Point guard Emanuel Chapman, who also wrapped up his NCCU career when the Eagles lost to Iowa State here on Friday, is NCCU’s all-time leader in assists with 617.

Neither Ingram, from Charlotte, nor Chapman, from Raleigh, were highly recruited, but they blossomed in Moton’s system.

“Ingram’s got a chance at the league,” James Kithcart said, referring to the NBA. “One thing I’ve learned is if you can play, they will find you.”

A scout from the NBA said he was checking out Ingram when the Eagles creamed archrival N.C. A&T 84-44 in NCCU’s McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium on Jan. 22.

NCCU’s appearance in the NCAA Tournament wasn’t its only time playing on national TV this season. NCCU both clinched the MEAC regular-season championship and won the MEAC Tournament title on ESPNU.

NCCU this season beat N.C. State. That was the Eagles’ first win over an Atlantic Coast Conference school.

Moton and his assistant coaches can go into living rooms across the country and legitimately sell all of that — including stories about police escorts at the NCAA Tournament — to recruits and their families.

“On campus for the last three or four days, they’ve been rock stars,” Moton said. “They have been rock stars, and deservedly so.”

Moton next season will have a strong frontcourt nucleus in forwards Karamo Jawara, Jay Copeland and Jordan Parks. They’ll all be experienced seniors, something NCCU’s opponents often noted about this year’s team.

NCCU’s uncertainties will be in its backcourt. Ingram and Chapman are tough acts for guards Dante Holmes and Juwan Moody to follow.

No doubt, Ingram and Chapman helped chart the coordinates for an NCCU team that put the program on the map.

It’s been hard for NCCU to compete for real estate in the land of hoops heft while being sandwiched by Duke, North Carolina and N.C. State, but the Eagles are gaining ground, Moton said.

“My (athletics director) and my chancellor on the bus ride over here just showed us a billboard that we’re splitting in half with Duke,” Moton said last week before NCCU played Iowa State. “I think it said congratulations on the NCAA Tournament, and it’s out there on the interstate (in Durham). So that’s a lot of headway.

“Right now, we’re receiving our fair share of notoriety and publicity to a tremendous school (that) has been pretty much the foundation of basketball as we know it,” Moton said. “It’s funny how it’s coming back full circle, because John McLendon, who served as North Carolina Central’s head coach in the 40s and the 50s, invented the fast break, invented the four corners, and that is something that (former UNC coach) Dean Smith even said, ‘Look, I got this from this guy.’ So it all comes back full circle in time.”