Eagles’ Junior guards leading charge for NC Central

csmith@newsobserver.comMarch 12, 2013 

  • MEAC central

    No. 2 seed N.C. Central plays its first MEAC tournament game Wednesday night.

    Wednesday: vs. N.C. A&T, 8 p.m.

    Friday: Semifinals, 8 p.m.

    Saturday: Championship game, 5 p.m.

The journey started three years ago for Jeremy Ingram and Emanuel Chapman.

The two high school seniors were stars – Ingram for his smooth stroke at Charlotte’s East Mecklenburg and Chapman for his court vision at Enloe – but neither was offered a scholarship from the four ACC schools in the state.

They have a chance to share the big stage now and extend the Eagles’ dream season.

The Eagles (22-8 overall, 15-1 MEAC) enter the MEAC tournament Wednesday as the No. 2 seed and will face the winner of Tuesday’s matchup between N.C. A&T and Florida A&M. Ingram joined senior forward Stanton Kidd on the All-MEAC first team.

“This is my third year here and there’s a different buzz around this program,” Chapman said. “It’s been tremendous because it’s like going through this all with a brother. Jeremy and I came in at the same time … so to grow to captains of this team and see this success, I wouldn’t want to do it with anybody else.”

Chapman and Ingram’s connection during each game starts before the opening tip. The two exchange their own handshake and set the tone for the rest of the team.

Chapman, or “Poobie” as his teammates call him, leads the team with 6.1 assists per game and boasts a 2.5 assists-to-turnover ratio this season.

With Ingram leading the team with 16.3 points per game – including a career-high 32 against Bethune-Cookman – their connection has been a focal point for coach LeVelle Moton throughout the season.

“They are really close-knit,” Moton said. “And you can tell from the way they talk to each other to their decorated high-fives that they have chemistry out there on the court. It’s incredible to watch them perform and see the way they’ve stepped up and led the team this year.”

Moton’s relationship with Chapman started at the beginning. Moton grew up with Chapman’s father, Emanuel Sr., and saw his guard grow into the same player his father was at his age.

“I’ve known Poobie since the day he was born,” Moton said. “So I knew he was coming in with an enormous basketball IQ and he’s shown that. He understood the game from day one.”

Chapman’s savvy and court vision have proven vital during his progression as a point guard. Chapman finished the regular seasn with 399 assists.

As for Ingram, this year has been a bit of a revelation. After two seasons where the former East Mecklenburg star totaled just 13 games with double digit points, Ingram has scored 10 or more points in 24 games this season, including eight games of 20 points or more.

Little wonder he was named first-team all-conference.

If the Eagles continue their hopes for a bid to the NCAA tournament, they will need more stellar performances from the two in-state standouts who are adding their own chapters to N.C. Central’s basketball legacy.

Smith: 919-829-8995

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