Despite tying for the MEAC conference championship in his first season, N.C. Central coach Jerry Mack didn’t get much love from the coaches and sports information directors at last Friday’s MEAC Football Luncheon.
The Eagles were picked to finished fourth in the conference behind archrival N.C. A&T at No. 1, South Carolina State and Bethune-Cookman.
“How about that?” asked Aggies coach Rod Broadway, a former NCCU head coach and UNC-Chapel Hill assistant, noting NCA&T hadn’t been picked for No. 1 in 10 previous preseason meetings.
“When we started four years ago, no one thought we were in the position to compete for a championship after coming off 27 straight losses. Just getting to the point where we are expected to do well is a great accomplishment by our players and coaches,” Broadway said.
NCCU redshirt junior quarterback Malcolm Bell and senior offensive lineman Clevonne Davis were named to the all-conference first team offense; junior Mike Jones received double honor as an all-conference first-team defensive back and return specialist.
The Eagles received four first-place votes and 334 points in the balloting, while N.C. A&T drew nine first-place votes and 425 points, South Carolina State four and 408 points, and Bethune Cookman just one vote for first place but 387 points overall.
It’s worth noting that NCCU defeated both N.C. A&T and S.C. State last year. The Eagles lost 34-20 last year to Bethune-Cookman in a game played in Florida.
The Eagles’ 2015 matchup against Bethune-Cookman on Oct. 3 in Durham will be broadcast on ESPN3 and tape-delayed on ESPNU, giving N.C. Central a second nationally televised game this year.
NCCU’s first televised game in 2015 will be the Bull City Gridiron Classic on Sept. 12 against Duke on ESPN3.
The DONS Basketball League is expanding into Raleigh next summer with 10 teams for approximately 150 youth.
The DBL has been very successful in Durham over the past three years under founder and commissioner Otis “Vegas Don” Lyons. Lyons is a compelling story in his own right: a former gangbanger and drug dealer who spent five years of a 30-year sentence in prison before turning his life around.
Basketball isn’t his only forte, either. Under his nonprofit Campaign4Change, Lyons wrote the theatre play “Ridin’ Wit’ Joe Crack” that is performed every year, as well as holding life skills workshops, awards shows, talent competitions, anything to uplift youth – and parents – in inner-city Durham. His motto is “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”
The DBL is unique and fun in that the league is run like the NBA. Teams hold tryouts; players are “drafted” and can be traded during the season. There are cheerleaders, game announcers, halftime entertainment, the works – all at a minimal cost.
But players also must perform mandatory community service, and attend educational and character-building workshops.
“The DBL helps develop our youth to become productive citizens,” Lyons said. “Community outreach is an important element of involvement, and the DBL aims to reach as many members of the community as possible. Players serve first and play second. Discipline is administered and integrated into all elements of the league experience.”
Plans are in the works for a 16-week summer league in Raleigh with some games even being televised.
The league is open to girls and boys ages 12-17, but kids 5-11 can serve as ball boys and other duties. Lyons already has snagged former Wake County deputy sheriff Willie Rowe to lead the Raleigh expansion.
To learn more, visit www.DBLNBA.com.