Previewing NC Central

The Tar Heels open the 2014-15 season on Friday against North Carolina Central. Tip-off at the Smith Center is at 8 p.m. and will be televised by ESPNU.

North Carolina (0-0) vs. NC Central (0-0)
Chapel Hill, N.C. -- Dean E. Smith Center
Friday, 8:00 p.m.
ESPNU (Roy Philpott, Fran Fraschilla)


“Expectations never change. Guys are not allowed to mention the words ‘last year’ because this is not last year. We’re not defending anything.” – NCCU head coach LeVelle Moton

“I think there are three players back from that team, so they’ve got a lot of new faces. Those guys are going to be hungry. They’ve listened and heard about North Carolina for a long, long time.” – UNC head coach Roy Williams


2013-14 Season in Review: North Carolina Central University punched its ticket to the 2014 NCAA Tournament with a 28-6 (15-1 MEAC) record in LeVelle Moton’s fifth season in Durham. The Eagles reeled off 20 straight victories to close the regular season and MEAC Tournament before losing to Iowa State, 93-75, in the second round the NCAA Tournament. Senior guard Jeremy Ingram led NCCU with 20.8 points per game on 43.9 percent shooting.

Eagles Picked to Win MEAC: Despite returning just one starter from last season’s memorable run, NCCU was picked to repeat as MEAC champions over Hampton. Senior forward Jordan Parks was selected preseason first-team All-MEAC and senior forward Karamo Jawara was tabbed for the third team.

Parks Enters Starting Lineup: The 6-foot-7, 200-pound forward is NCCU’s top returning scorer (10.1 ppg) after leading the MEAC in field goal percentage (65.9) and ranking eighth in blocked shots (1.2 bpg) and 14th in rebounding (5.7 rpg). The Queens, N.Y. native turned in those statistics despite not starting a single game and playing just 19.0 minutes per game.

New Look Lineup: Jawara (7.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg in ’13-14) is the lone returning starter for the Eagles, although the expected starting lineup for Friday consists of five upperclassmen. Two of the five are transfers – senior guards Nimrod Hilliard (former Mr. Basketball in Wisconsin) and Anthony McDonald. Hilliard arrives from Lamar University, while McDonald transferred from Mississippi Valley State University. NCCU’s roster includes six transfers in all.

Copeland Out with Injury: Senior forward Jay Copeland is out for the regular season after tearing his ACL and MCL during a pickup game in September. The 6-foot-7, 255-pounder started all 34 games for the Eagles last season and averaged 7.8 points and 5.8 points per game.

Struggles vs. ACC Comp: NCCU is 1-13 all-time against ACC opponents. The Eagles’ lone win came last November against N.C. State (82-72 OT) at PNC Arena.

Last Meeting: The Tar Heels defeated the Eagles, 89-42, on Nov. 11, 2009. Marcus Ginyard led UNC with 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting and Deon Thompson added 13 points and seven rebounds. UNC built a 31-point halftime lead after a 68.8 percent shooting effort in the opening period. NCCU shot 25.5 percent for the game and committed 21 turnovers.

Series History:UNC leads the all-time series with NCCU, 1-0.

Projected Starters:
11 Nimrod Hilliard (6-0, 155, Sr.) - 14.1 ppg, 4.9 apg (2013-14 at Lamar)
5 Anthony McDonald (6-1, 180, Sr.) - 11.9 ppg, 2.0 rpg (2013-14 at MVSU)
0 Dante Holmes (6-3, 190, Jr.) - 3.4 ppg, 1.7 rpg
2 Jordan Parks (6-7, 190, Sr.) - 10.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg
10 Karamo Jawara (6-8, 220, Sr.) - 7.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg

Top Reserves:
23 Nate Maxey (6-11, 225, Jr.) - 4.5 ppg, 2.0 bpg (2012-13 at TAMU-CC)
11 Enoch Hood (6-9, 215, Jr.) - 3.0 ppg, 1.9 rpg (2012-13 at JMU)
20 Jamal Ferguson (6-5, 180, So.) - 1.1 ppg, 0.6 rpg (2012-13 at Marquette)

Location: Durham, N.C.
Enrollment: 8,155
Conference: MEAC
Nickname: Eagles
Colors: Maroon & Gray
Head Coach: LeVelle Moton (6th season)
2013-14 Record: 28-6 (15-1)

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(Photos by USA Today Sports)

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