Team preview: Hampton

For the most comprehensive previews available on all 335 Division I teams, order the "Bible" of college basketball, the 2012-13 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, at www.blueribbonyearbookonline.com or call 1-877-807-4857.


Last summer, Kwame Morgan II broke his leg while playing in a pickup basketball game. The freak injury cost Hampton one of its best players on the heels of the Pirates' trip to the NCAA tournament.

The Pirates are still feeling the effects of Morgan's mishap. The injury sidelined Morgan for the entire 2011-12 season, so he petitioned the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility. That appeal was denied, limiting Morgan's final season at Hampton to a ceremonial bucket at the start of the Pirates' last home game.

"Everybody looked up to Kwame as a leader," Hampton coach Edward Joyner, Jr. said. "He was somebody that they followed. I think they were just as excited and hopeful as he was, that he would get that year.

"Just as much as it hurt us last year, it could hurt us this year having no experienced guard in the backcourt. At least we're going into it knowing that."

Hampton Pirates

This season's Pirates roster is short on veteran presence at any position. Hampton brings back just one starter -- power forward David Bruce -- among seven returning lettermen, most of whom played minute roles on the team. That group is trying to mesh with a batch of 10 newcomers.

"I don't know if it's rebuilding or reloading. We'll find out when the season gets going," Joyner said, describing the process of determining his rotation as a "paint by numbers" process.

"The more we can do together as a team and the more time we spend as a team, the more we jell as a team," the third-year coach said. "We think we've got a lot of good pieces. We've just got to see how it comes together."

Bruce (9.2 ppg, 7.3 rpg) should anchor the front line. The 6-10 junior made a splash in his first season with the team, ranking among the top 12 in the MEAC in rebounding, field-goal percentage (.493) and blocks per game (0.8).

"He's our leading returning scorer," Joyner said. "We're hoping to rely on him a little more."

Joyner has some other promising players among his batch of returnees. Jasper Williams (5.6 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 1.0 apg) is a 6-2 senior who will get the first crack at being the new starting point guard. Fellow senior Wesley Dunning (4.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg) often played out of his natural position at power forward last season. Both loomed large in Hampton's three-game MEAC tournament run.

Williams, who transferred from Chattanooga, dropped 20 points as the Pirates beat Morgan State in the opening round. Then, Dunning scored 10 points as Hampton eliminated regular-season champ Savannah State.

With four new arrivals who stand 6-7 or taller, Joyner thinks he'll be able to move the 6-7 Dunning back to a swingman-type role. Williams, meanwhile, needs to prove to the coaching staff he can take hold of the point guard position and run the team.

There's a huge void at the two-guard spot left by Darrion Pellum, who led the MEAC in scoring last season and was a two-time first-team all-conference selection. One player to watch in the competition there is 6-4 junior Ramon Mercado (14.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.2 spg), a transfer from Indian River State College that ranked as one of the top 10 scorers among junior college players in Florida.

Another intriguing option is Deron Powers, a 5-11 freshman from nearby Williamsburg who scored more than 2,000 total points at Williamsburg Christian Academy and led his team to a state title as a senior.

Joyner signed some reinforcements for Bruce on the front line as well. Du'Vaughn Maxwell is a 6-7 forward out of Western Nebraska Community College, and the one guy in the recruiting class who Joyner thinks will make the quickest impact. Maxwell (17.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg), who started his collegiate career at High Point, built a reputation as a slam-dunk maestro during his two years in junior college.

"He's a high-energy guy," Joyner said. "We think he's going to be able to help us push the tempo a little more this year."

Freshman Oumar Sall, at 6-11 and 245 pounds, has the size to hang with any other big man in the MEAC. The native of Senegal prepped at Kenston Forest School, located in central Virginia.

The other forward in the class is 6-7 freshman Dionte Adams, a two-time all-state selection at Northside Christian Academy in Charlotte.

Lawrence Cooks, a 6-1 two guard who played with Adams at Northside and helped that squad win a state title, also signed with Hampton. Joyner's other signees include Miles Jackson, a 6-5 swingman from Maryland whose nomadic prep career included stints at three different high schools before graduating from Takoma Academy in Silver Spring. Md.

The influx of newcomers includes three players who were originally part of the 2011 class: Ke'ron Brown, a 6-3 guard out of Savannah, Ga.; Dwight Meikle, a slightly built 6-7 freshman who originally was bound for St. John's before getting released from his commitment there; and Reggie Price, another 6-3 guard from Charlotte.

Four returnees -- 6-3 senior guard Aaron Austin, 5-9 junior guard Travis McClenny, 6-8 sophomore forward Emmanuel Okoroba and 6-7 senior forward Koron Reed -- round out the roster.






It's tough to figure exactly how Hampton will fare this season. The Pirates' lineup has several holes, but the only real difference maker from a statistical standpoint was Pellum -- and his scoring wasn't enough to sin-gle-handedly propel Hampton back to the top of the conference. A more balanced approach might be just what the Pirates need to start shivering some timbers around the MEAC again.

With 17 men on the roster, at least a few players seem earmarked to redshirt. Even then, Joyner has plenty of manpower to run the up-tempo style of basketball he prefers.

For the most comprehensive previews available on all 335 Division I teams, order the "Bible" of college basketball, the 2012-13 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, at www.blueribbonyearbookonline.com or call 1-877-807-4857.