DURHAM, N.C. — Year after year, the North Carolina Central Eagles find themselves near the top of the MEAC standings, if not in first place.
This past season was more of the same, as the Eagles finished with a 13-3 record in conference play, and took home the regular season crown by a game over the Norfolk State Spartans. North Carolina Central then went on to win the MEAC Tournament, and represented the conference in the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
Looking ahead to the 2017-18 season, the Eagles were poised to take a step backwards with the loss of key personnel across the roster. Senior guards Pat Cole, Dajuan Graf, and Ron Trapps all graduated at season’s end, leaving big holes across the back court for the Eagles.
However, there’s an old saying that applies perfectly to the Eagles and head coach LeVelle Moton.
“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
Across the country, Moton is considered one of the premier coaches in the NCAA, regardless of conference. He continually gets the best out of his players, and players want to play for a man of his caliber.
On Thursday, Moton and the Eagles added another piece to the puzzle for the 2017-18 season, filling a big hole in the back court in the process.
Former Wofford Terriers and Palm Beach State Panthers’ transfer guard Larry Mcknight Jr. committed to play for the Eagles in 2017-18.
With the Panthers this past season, his first with the team, Mcknight helped lead the team to a 25-6 record overall, including 14-3 on their home floor.
Individually, Mcknight was one of five players to average double figure points per contest. He finished second on the team with 13.3 points per game, trailing only Travis Weatherington, who recently committed to the Hartford Hawks.
Mcknight also averaged 3.9 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game, while shooting 49.5% from the field on the year. He was named to the First Team All-SoCon for his efforts.
Prior to playing for the Panthers, Mcknight had committed to play at Wofford out of high school. Ultimately, it wasn’t the right fit, and he opted for the JUCO route. He went to Palm Beach State with the hopes of returning to the top level of collegiate basketball, and he achieved that after just one season.
After garnering serious interest from several different programs, including the Green Bay Phoenix and Canisius Golden Griffins, Mcknight took to Twitter on Thursday to announce his commitment to the Eagles.
At 6’4”, he brings some much-needed size to the back court for North Carolina Central, who will once again look to contend in the MEAC in 2017-18. He is an athletic guard who can take the ball to the basket, but can also shoot it from beyond the arc (37.4% in 2016-17).
Mcknight joins Weatherington (Hartford), Gage Ellis (Anderson Univ. Trojans), and Josh Wallace (Jacksonville Dolphins) as Palm Beach State players to commit to a new program for next year.
Larry Mcknight Jr. will have three years of eligibility remaining, starting immediately this season.
– T. Bennett