The Norfolk State Spartans left alot to look forward to following its unexpected trip to the MEAC Championship game in the 2008/2009 College Basketball Season. With the return of the MEAC leading scorer in Michael Deloach, center JDJ, transfer Christian Morris and some talented freshman, Norfolk State looks to be headed to its first NCAA Tournament.
Key Losses: G/F Corey Lyons, G/F Kevin Worsley
Key Newcomers: This may be their most talent heavy incoming class ever. Starting off with Christian Morris, a 6'9 Center transfer from Rutgers. Nicknamed "BEAST" for a reason, as he is an absolute space gobbiling scoring machine in the paint with a nice touch out to 15 feet. He will be asked to contribute significantly when he joins the team in December.
Next in line are a couple guards, Rob Hampton (6'4) a Drexel transfer, penetrates defenses well, and can hit the midrange shot. While JUCO recruit (6'2) Issac Nixon is a jack of all trades type. A smart combo guard with a quick trigger, and high basketball IQ.
UMBC transfer Marcos Tamares (6'7) will add depth to an already talent heavy frontline.
Anthony Evans has signed two of arguably the most talented freshman to ever step on campus in Reggie Revels and Jordan Payton. Revels, nephew of Allan Houston, is a big powerful guard whose range extends beyond the 3-point line. He makes Norfolk a threat from the 3-point line as soon as he touches the court. Payton a 6'5 wing may have the most potential of the group. Blessed with very long arms, impressive athleticism, and a nice shooting touch. Once he can learn to play the actual game of basketball, he could be something special. 23 year old walk on wing Brandon Wheeles adds veteran leadership and depth at both wing spots.
Backcourt: Returning starter Aleek Pauline handles the PG duties for Norfolk State. He did a good job of running the team his first year, averaging nearly seven points and four assits per game. He will be pushed by Issac Nixon, a transfer from Brunswick CC in Raleigh, NC. Team leading scorer, and confrence leading scorer Michael Deloach returns after putting up 21 points a clip. With an NBA paycheck beckoning, this is his biggest year yet.
Rob Hampton will most likely hold down the 3 spot, but down the road I expect freshman Jordan Payton to slide into that role once his skills have caught up with his ability. Revels, the teams best shooter, will find minutes early due to his great ability to shoot the long ball. Jr. James Williams, Jr. Brandon Wheeles and Norfolk,VA product Sr. Antoine Perry will add depth to the guard positions.
Frontcourt: 6'11 Center JDJ returns as the MEAC's biggest player. Word is his outside shot is falling much more, after extensive workouts with a trainer in New York. He will be counted on heavily for rebounds as Brandon Monroe (Team's leading rebounder) has been dismissed from the team. Kyle O'Quinn had a decent rookie campaign. From hitting three's to holding it down in the paint, he shows alot of promise for the future frontline of Norfolk State.
Oludele Doherty provides great depth at 6'8, but is awaiting eligiblity confrimation from the NCAA. Tim Zephyr is a hard one to understand. Very athletic and a nice outside shot. If he stops playing timid, and plays with heart and passion, he could help the team in many ways.Eligible in December, Christian Morris will make a instant impact. Known worldwide for crushing a backboard at just 16, he will give opponents fits for the next 3 years. Marcos Tamares, a skilled 4-man, will add depth.
Who to Watch: The key this year will be Michael Deloach's ability to share the ball with a more talent heavy team. When he realizes it'll benefit him with scouts understanding that he can score and distribute, it will take his team further in March, will give him more NBA looks down the road.
Final Projection: If ever their was a year for this team to make the NCAA Tournament, this is it. I believe they can make a huge statement by beating or keeping the game close with Baylor. I expect a 20+ win season, and a MEAC Champion banner.
Projected Starting Five:
Aleek Pauline G
Michael Deloach G
Rob Hampton G
Kyle O'Quinn F *Christian Morris
* Eligible to start in December.