Cougars welcome seven new basketball signees
Central Carolina Community College welcomed seven new men's basketball players to the Cougar family Thursday evening at CCCC's Sanford campus.
CCCC head coach Doug Connor says the incoming Cougars will help his squad build on its 17-14 record on the court last season and it's a class which will represent the school well in the classroom and the community.
"These guys, first of all, are all good-character kids," Connor said.
When on the recruiting trail, Connor said discipline, listening to coaches and kids who "know right from wrong," are who CCCC wants to bring in. Basketball talent, of course, has to be there, too.
"These guys are exceptional athletes. Each one of them was a great player for their (high school) teams," said Connor.
The Cougars are adding players all over the court. Devon Meadows is a 6-foot-1 point guard from Charlotte's Vance High School. The Cougars are getting Overhills backcourt teammates 5-foot-9 point guard Dexter McCrae and 6-foot-3 wing Jeremiah Jenkins. Six-foot shooting guard Quashan Davis, from North Moore, and 6-foot-5 center Luke Davis, from Union Pines, are becoming teammates. One more high school duo signed Thursday; 6-foot guard Richard Phillips and 6-foot-5 power forward Marquise King from East Columbus.
It was a big day for the seniors who are becoming freshmen, as well as for their families and coaches, many of whom were on hand to witness the signatures.
"It means a lot. I'm glad to be here and have this opportunity. I wouldn't have this opportunity if not for Coach," said Quashan Davis, speaking about North Moore head coach Grant Smith.
"He's kept on pushing me, telling me how hard it is and how much work it takes to get to the next level," he said.
"It definitely means a lot," said Jenkins.
"It's an honor," said McCrae.
McCrae and Jenkins have been teammates since middle school. They are ready to play, but work as well, as college teammates.
"The coaches have said we've got to work pretty hard, but that's also what they like about us," Jenkins said.
McCrae was one of many in the new class who specifically brought up defense and hustle as traits which can carry over quickly from high school basketball to the college level.
Phillips and McCrae said defense is a part of the game they take pride in.
"It's something I've always been good at, playing defense," Phillips said. "I like to hustle and I've been taught to play hard on the defensive end."
Phillips' current and future teammate, King, can be an inside and perimeter player for the Cougars.
"Playing at the next level is something I've always wanted to do," King said.
Working on being an outside shooter and a versatile player as a big man is something he really worked on as a senior, he said, and he wants to continue working.
Coach Connor loves for his Cougars to play fast and CCCC played many high-scoring contests last season. Getting defensive stops on a few more possessions a game could be all the difference between a good record and a great season.
"We want to do a lot of full-court pressing and make people play our game," Connor said.
The intensity starts in practice and so does vying for playing time.
"We're very competitive in practice. The guys have to learn our system. How you learn the system and how you practice tells me how you'll play in a game," he said.
The new freshmen will join rising sophomores who will be trying to build on last season.
"The team has been really welcoming," said Luke Davis, "there's a good atmosphere and good chemistry here."
"I think it's an honor to play at the next level, especially considering the hard work we've put in in high school," he said.
Meadows, another of the new point guards, said sharing the ball and being a good leader can be part of what he brings to the Cougars.
"I try to be unselfish with the ball, look to make good plays and get my teammates involved," he said.
If Central Carolina decides to start up a football program in the next two years, the Cougars have at least one good quarterback in Meadows. He was an ESPN Elite 11 invitee as he passed for more than 2,600 yards and threw for 30 touchdowns for Vance last fall.
"We're a big family," Connor said, "and now we're going to try to get everything working. Our goal is to be midseason ready by Nov. 1, but the only way it happens is if we work our tails off during the summer."