WILMINGTON— The defending Colonial Athletic Association Champion UNCW Men’s Basketball Team took the floor at Trask Coliseum on Wednesday to meet with local media members as an introductory event for the Seahawks moving into the program’s third season under the director of Coach Kevin Keatts.
Keatts, two-time CAA Coach of the Year, led UNCW to a 25-8 record last season and returns several key elements from a team that captured the school’s first CAA title in 10 years.
“Every year, as we enter into the season, we want to finish at the top of the league,” said Keatts, who owns a 43-22 record in two seasons at UNCW. “That’s our goal every year. We’ve got a great mixture of young guys and veterans. I’ve got a great bunch of guys who are excited about playing together and love the style of basketball we play.”
Representatives from local and regional print and electronic media outlets interviewed the coaches and players on prospects for the new campaign. Overall, nearly 40 interviews were conducted on the floor of Trask Coliseum. Mike Vacarro, voice of the Seahawks, also spoke with Keatts and several players over the Seahawk Digital Network via Facebook Live broadcast. Click here for the complete Media Day video.
With four players averaging in double figures, UNCW led the CAA in scoring offense with 79.4 and scoring margin at 7.3 ppg. The Seahawks also topped the conference in steals (7.5 spg) and turnover margin (+3.7) in one of the most memorable seasons in school history.
Versatile senior Chris Flemmings, a 6-5 guard who made a big splash after transferring from NCAA Division II Barton, will be one of the team’s leaders and figures to be in the mix for CAA Player of the Year honors following an impact season one year ago.
The Cary, N.C., product led the team in scoring (16.2 ppg) and rebounding (5.8 rpg) and earned First-Team All-CAA honors as a walk-on – the first-ever player in the league to accomplish the feat. He didn’t slow down in March, capturing CAA Tournament Outstanding Player accolades and nearly leading the Seahawks to an upset over national power Duke in the NCAA Tournament.
Flemmings is just part of UNCW’s multi-dimensional back court. Also returning are feisty playmaker Jordon Talley, veteran combo guard Denzel Ingram and silky sophomore C.J. Bryce. Talley has played in 64 games over the last two seasons, averaging 8.6 points and 3.5 assists, while Ingram collected Third-Team All-CAA honors last year after transferring from UNC Charlotte. Bryce was one of the top rookies in the circuit and ranked third in the CAA among freshman scorers with 10.1 ppg and third in newcomer rebounding at 4.2 rpg.
The back court became even deeper over the summer. JaQuel Richmond, a transfer from Middle Tennessee State, is eligible and the mercurial guard will add even more depth for the Seahawks.
Keatts is looking to fill some holes in the frontcourt as senior forward Chuck Ogbodo (3.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg), junior forward Marcus Bryan (4.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg) and sophomore center Devontae Cacock (3.3 ppg., 2.3 rpg) look to for an increase in playing time.
Two freshmen, meanwhile, are positioned to battle for time in their rookie seasons. Slashing scorer Jaylen Fornes looks to provide instant offense and swing man Matt Elmore brings size and range to the fold.
The Seahawks are slated to tackle a 31-game schedule during the regular season, evenly split with 14 games apiece at home and on the road, along with three neutral site matchups in Nashville, Tenn.
The Seahawks make their first public appearance on Sunday, Nov. 6, with a 2 p.m. exhibition game against Mount Olive at Trask Coliseum. UNCW opens the regular season on Friday, Nov. 11, against Claflin at 7:30 p.m.
Season tickets are still available by calling the UNCW Ticket Office at 800-808-UNCW or by clicking on the Tickets button on UNCWSports.com. Ticket prices range from $99-$190 and certain sections require Seahawk Club membership/donation obligations.