The 2018-19 FAMU’s Men’s Basketball team plans to build on its’ strong finish to last season with the addition of seven newcomers to the fold, which should bolster their hopes of rising to the level of serious contenders for the 2019 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference regular season and tournament titles.
Head coach Robert McCullum and his staff led the Rattlers to nine wins a year ago, including an opening round win in the MEAC Tournament, while surprising many preseason prognosticators with a seventh place finish, after being picked to finish near to the bottom of the league.
The Rattler Basketball leadership enters their second season at FAMU brimming with optimism over their bumper crop of recruits, a talented group headed by a trio of junior college phenoms who are expected to make their presence felt immediately.
“We are extremely excited to have added three skilled, versatile perimeter players to our program,” McCullum said during the summer in assessing the recruiting efforts.
That talented trio includes: Tracy Hector,Jr., 6’5, 215 SF from South Georgia Tech Junior College. Rod Melton,Jr., 6’0 ,185 PG from Lawson State Community College, Birmingham,AL, and Rich Anderson, 6’2 190 combo guard from Seminole State College (Oklahoma).
Tracy Hector,Jr- “Tracy’s strength and versatility will help us become a better team on both ends of the court. And his versatility will make it difficult to keep him off the floor. His ability to attack the basket, create shots for others and perhaps more important his ability to rebound the ball will strengthen our team,” McCullum said.
“Hector’s versatility is best demonstrated as the only JUCO player in the nation to average at least 10 points,7 rebounds, and 7 assists per game. He will play both forward positions.
“Hector’s size, strength, and passing ability will help make us a better team immediately. In addition, his defensive prowess (conference defensive player of the year) will fill a huge void.”
Rod Melton, Jr – “Rod’s ability to attack the basketball, create shots for others along with his decision making are all the ingredients for great offensive play. On the defensive end, his ability to pressure the ball will be a welcome addition to our team,” McCullum assessed.
“Melton brings a level of athleticism that makes him a threat with the ball in his hands, or defending the ball all 94 feet. His speed, strength makes him difficult to defend.
“His toughness can best be described by the 1,400 yards he rushed for as a high school senior at Northview High School in Dothan, AL.
“Perhaps most impressive is his decision making as he had the best assist to turnover ratio in the nation for junior college players with a minimum of 75 assists. His 160 assists to 29 turnovers is simply unbelievable!
Rich Anderson- “Rich’s ability to stretch defenses with his three-point shooting is exactly what we need. In addition, his ability to play both guard positions shows his versatility. We expect Rich’s toughness defensively to be a big plus as well,” said McCullum.
“Anderson can expect to be on the receiving end of many of Rod’s passes. “Rich is a knockdown shooter who led the nation (junior colleges) in three-point field goal percentage making 54% of three-point attempts. Rich is very versatile and will play both guard spots.”
“With the graduation of Marcus Barham (85 made three’s on 37-38% shooting, Rich Anderson is more than capable of filling the void. Add Dex Smith, 6’3 shooter from Chicago, along with the return of senior Justin Ravenel, we expect to be a much improved shooting team from beyond the arc.”
Rounding out the seven newcomers will be a pair of redshirt transfers, 6’9 F-C Ify Umezurike and 6’9 F Darian (DJ) Jones, along with with two guards, 6’3 Dexter Smith, and 6’4 Michael (MJ) Randolph, both fall signees.
2018-19 FAMU MEN’S HOOPS AT A GLANCE
HEAD COACH: Robert McCullum
ALMA MATER: Birmingham Southern, 1976
YEARS AT FAMU: 2018-19, 2nd Season
RECORD AT FAMU: 9-25
CAREER RECORD: 93-146, 8 Years
2017-18 RECORDS: 9-25 Overall * 7-9 MEAC (tied for 7th)
KEY RETURNEES: G Justin Ravenel, 6-1, 175, SR., 8.6 ppg, 2.1 rbs, 39% Three-Pointers (63 of 160); 80% Free Throw Shooter (32 of 40); 33 assists, 24 steals; C Isaiah Martin, 7-0, 210, SR, 8.1 ppg, 6.3 rbs, 38 blocked shots in 17 games; 59.6% (59 of 99) from field; G Nasir Core, 6-2, 205, JR, 4.5 ppg, 2.4 rbs, 42 assists, 23 steals; G Kamron Reaves, 6-1, 175, SO, 3.5 ppg, 2.0 rbs F Nick Severado, 6-8, 185, SR, 3.8 ppg, 4.3 rbs, 24 blocks, 17 steals.
KEY LOSSES: F Desmond Williams, two-time All-MEAC, 18.1 ppg, 6.1 rbs, 64 assists, 40 steals, 26 blocks; G Marcus Barham, 17.0 ppg, 4.3 rbs, 36% from Three-Point range (85 of 234), 59 assists, .746 from Free Throw Line; PG Elijah Mayes, 11.1 ppg, 2.1 rbs, 86.3% from Free Throw Line; 44.8% from Three-Point range (30 of 67), 85 assists, 27 steals.
TOP NEWCOMERS: Darian (D.J.) Jones, F, 6-9, 195, R-SO (Sat out after transferring from Tulane; older brother Damian, is third year pro with NBA champion Golden State); C Ifyeani Umezurike, 6-10, 245, R-SO (Sat out after transferring from St. Francis (Pa.)); Tracy Hector,Jr., a 6’5,215 SF from South Georgia Tech Junior College. Rod Melton,Jr., a 6’0 185 PG from Lawson State Community College, Birmingham,AL. Rich Anderson, a 6’2 190 combo guard from Seminole State College (Oklahoma), plus fall signees, 6’3 G Dexter Smith, and 6’4 G-F Michael (MJ) Randolph.
SCHEDULE HIGHLIGHTS: The Rattlers will open the year with a home exhibition bout against Edward Waters on Nov. 1, before tipping off the regular season on the road at Jacksonville (Fla.) University, Nov. 6.
The Rattlers return home for a Saturday, Nov. 10 home date against Tuskegee (Ala.) University, before opening a seven-game road stretch with a pair of tilts in the Jamaica Classic in Montego Bay, opening the two-game island swing Nov. 16 against Campbell University, with a second game on tap for Nov. 18.
FAMU will sprinkle in one home bout in December, on Dec. 6 against Fort Valley (Ga.) State, before closing out the month with five road dates.
The non-conference schedule for FAMU features a variety of Power Five and mid major programs. Among the Power Five teams will be Oregon, DePaul, Utah and Georgia Tech, while Memphis, Loyola Marymount, Portland, USF, South Alabama, Jacksonville and North Florida round out the mid major foes on tap.
FAMU which surprised preseason soothsayers with a seventh place finish (7-9) in Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference play, after being picked 12th, expects to trade up into contender’s status in 2019 with the boatload of talented imports.
The Rattlers will open league play with a Mid Atlantic two-step at Howard (D.C.) University (Jan. 5) and Norfolk (Va.) State (Jan. 7), with their MEAC home opener set for Jan. 12 against Savannah State.
A red letter date for FAMU fans will be Feb. 23, as the Rattlers will host archrival Bethune-Cookman in a weekend doubleheader (Saturday) in the Lawson Center.