New Hanover standouts prepare for bowl game at N.C. Central; Allen returns for Arizona basketball; DII, DIII level hoopsters making impact

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WILMINGTON— As the college football season turns into championship runs and bowl games, we take a quick look at the final few players making contributions this fall on the gridiron and local athletes on the hardwood highlights in this week’s college report.

Ashley High School alum Alex Highsmith put in a ton of work this season during his freshman year for the UNC-Charlotte football team. His hard work as a redshirt was rewarded over Thanksgiving weekend by earning his first career start at linebacker in a 33-14 setback against Texas-San Antonio.

Highsmith recorded one sack and five tackles in the effort. UNC-Charlotte closed its 2016 slate with a 4-8 record.

Former New Hanover High School standouts Ramone Simpson and Jacen Murphy are the only college football players still practicing following N.C. Central’s run to a MEAC Championship.

Ramone Simpson. Photo courtesy- NC Central
Ramone Simpson. (Photo courtesy- NC Central)

The Eagles have begun preparations for the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl as the MEAC champion North Carolina Central University Eagles face off against the champions of the SWAC on Dec. 17 in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

In seven starts and 11 games played, Simpson leads the team with 630 rushing yards. He averages 5.1 yards per carry, with five touchdowns. Simpson rushed for over 100 yards twice during the regular season, including a season-high 116 yards against Bethune-Cookman on Oct.  1.

Allen returns from injury, freshman A.J.  Frye honored during first week of play

After being sidelined with a sprained knee following the season-opener for the University of Arizona on Oct. 12, Kadeem Allen (New Hanover/Laney) saw limited action against Sacred Heart on Nov. 18. He returned to the starting lineup in a win over Northern Colorado on Nov. 21 and played 35-plus minutes in each of the past two games.

Arizona fell 69-65 to Butler this past Friday. Allen went 4-of-7 from the field, with 11 points and six rebounds. In four starts and five games played, the senior guard is averaging seven points per game.

AJ Frye has impressed in his first four college games. Photo courtesy- NC Wesleyan Basketball
AJ Frye has impressed in his first four college games. Photo courtesy- NC Wesleyan Basketball

At 5-1, the Wildcats get back on the floor Wednesday, Nov. 30 against Texas Southern.

Coastal Carolina senior guard Elijah Wilson (Laney) returned to the floor at the HTC Center in nearby Conway, S.C. on Tuesday night as the Chanticleers faced off against UT-Chattanooga. Wilson finished with 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting, but the Mocs handed Coastal Carolina a 68-52 setback.

The Chanticleers (2-5) are in the middle of a five-game home stand and return to the floor Wednesday against Methodist before facing off against UNC-Asheville on Saturday, Dec. 3.

At the Division II level, Tarleton State was listed at No.  7 in the latest National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) poll. Junior Ridell Camidge (New Hanover/Ashley) is the team’s leading scorer, averaging 12.4 points per game.

Tarleton State (Stephenville, Texas) has a 4-1 record following a 75-47 result on Nov. 26.

Within the Division III ranks, freshman A.J. Frye (Hoggard) has made an immediate impact in his first season for N.C. Wesleyan. Frye was named USA South Atlantic Conference Rookie of the Week after the Battling Bishops season opening tournament.  The Wilmington native averaged 14.0 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.0 block per game during the event.

Frye notched his first career double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds to go along with four assists, one steal and one block against Concordia (Texas). He also totaled 10 points, nine rebounds, three assists and one block in the tournament finale against Frostburg State.

N.C. Wesleyan is off to a 2-2 start. Frye has started all four games, averaging 11.5 points per game.