UNCW Press Release
WILMINGTON, N.C. – In one of the earliest starts in the program's history, the UNCW men's basketball team takes the court on Friday, Oct. 2, to officially begin drills for the much-anticipated season in 2015-16.
The Seahawks met local members of the media late Thursday on the eve of their first official practice and conducted more than 30 interviews with the print, electronic and internet media.
UNCW is coming off an 18-14 campaign that featured one of the biggest turnarounds in the NCAA Division I ranks. Guided by energetic first-year skipper Kevin Keatts, UNCW earned a share of the Colonial Athletic Association regular season championship and advanced to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament, the school's first postseason appearance in eight years.
"I'm as excited about this year as I've ever been," said Keatts, the CAA's Coach-of-the-Year in 2015. Keatts became only the fourth first-year mentor in the history of the league to win the coaching honor.
"We have a good mixture of players and I'm excited about this bunch. I like the pieces and I know we have the program going in the right direction. The support has been tremendous. I want to get this program back to the point where you have to stand in line to get in."
Keatts and his staff welcome back two starters – wily guards Craig Ponder (6-1, 185, R-Sr.) and Jordon Talley (6-0, 180, Fr.) – and add several newcomers to the mix. Ponder was the only player to start all 32 games one year ago and ranked 21st in the league in scoring at 11.6 points per game. Talley, meanwhile, contributed 8.8 ppg and a team-high 98 assists en route to CAA All-Rookie Team accolades.
Keatts said: "It's going to be a fun year. We play an exciting brand of basketball…that's the only way I know. This place can be special. It was one time before. We don't have to be a one year program. I want this program to last forever."
Veterans Dylan Sherwood (6-9, 215, Gr., Forward), C.J. Gettys (7-0, 275, Jr., Center) and Chuck Ogbodo (6-9, 230, Jr., Center) give the Seahawks additional experience while three transfers will bolster the lineup. Marcus Bryan (6-7, 225, R-Soph., Forward), Chris Flemmings (6-5, 175, R-Junior, Guard) and Denzel Ingram (6-0, 170, R-Jr., Guard) figure to see plenty of time in their first season after sitting out 2013-14.
UNCW has 29 games on the schedule for the coming year, including 14 home games, 13 road matchups and two neutral contests. The Seahawks make their first public appearance on Sunday, Nov. 8, with an exhibition tune-up against NCAA Division II member Barton at Trask Coliseum.
UNCW then plays the first of three games at Trask Coliseum to open the regular season on Friday, Nov. 13, when NAIA member Milligan visits the Port City for the first time.