The UNCP men’s basketball team is ready to embark on the 2018-19 season and they believe they are primed to not just defend their title of PBC champions, but win it outright.
The Braves also intend to make a stronger playoff push after a semifinal round exit in the NCAA Southeast Regional Tournament at the end of last year’s record-setting season.
This year’s team will attempt to accomplish these goals without two of the most impactful players to ever be apart of the program as guard Brandon Watts and forward Nigel Grant both graduated this past spring.
“It’s tough, but the thing about our team is that we have so much talent and we never really had to rebuild, we just reload and go from there. We have a lot of depth just like we did last year and we have a lot of people that can score the ball,” said senior James Murray-Boyles.
Watts finished his career for the Black and Gold as one of the all-time greatest players in program history. Grant was sensational in his two years as a Brave displaying dominance in scoring as well
as in the paint.
“It’s going to be a collaborative effort in order to fill the gaps. We’re going to have to change up a little bit of what we do,” said Assistant Coach Drew Richards.
Watts was also the team’s best perimeter defender according to Richards. The staff would like players to step up in that role and improve defensively so that they can neutralize opposing team’s best shooters.
The team is returning with seven of their top nine players from last season. They will look for a boost from a pair of redshirts, Carson Mounce and Cameron Hamilton, who sat out last season and worked on improving their craft.
“Carson has already had two years of experience under his belt and Cam is kind of new to it, but he has learned quickly and really improved and worked hard,” said Richards.
A new player that the Braves envision playing a big role is sophomore forward Spencer Levi, who transferred in from the Division III level following a monstrous freshman season.
Forward James Murray Boyles is the team’s lone senior this year. He will no longer be coming off the bench but will instead be focal point in the Brave’s offense as well as the most seasoned leader in the locker room.
“He’s grown up so much in his four years here and I couldn’t be more proud of this kid…Everything is in line for him to have a really good year. I’ve got no doubt how hard he’s been working and he’s going to do everything he can in his power to make sure his senior season goes well,” said Richards.