The Florida A&M University Men’s Basketball program heads into the coming 2017-18 season under new leadership, as veteran coach Robert McCullum will lead the Rattlers into one of the more challenging campaigns during his first season.
FAMU, which posted a 7-21 mark a year ago, has high hopes for the coming season, aiming for their first Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference title since 2007.
Coach McCullum, who won 84 games in seven seasons during head coaching stints at Western Michigan and USF, comes to FAMU after a Final Four run as a member of the coaching staff at the University of Oregon.
His extensive resume of work includes international experience, as well as a plethora of NCAA Tournament experience, making him the ideal man to lead the Rattler program out of the Division One doldrums to a competitive place among the mid major elites.
Joining him in his Rattler Basketball Renaissance movement will be assistants Carlos Biggs (Baylor, ’93), Jarrett Stephens (Lemoyne Owen, 2000), and Patrick Benson (Oregon, 2017).
Players returning to lead the Rattlers’ bid for the 2018 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference title, will be two Preseason All-MEAC Men’s Basketball All-Stars, senior forward Desmond Williams, and senior wing player Marcus Barham.
Williams, a 6-6, 205-pound native of Atmore, Ala., was an All-MEAC selection last season after averaging 16.2 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. He shot 48.3 percent from the floor, finishing with 44 assists, 35 blocked shots and 29 steals.
Barham, a 6-5, 185-pound sharpshooting wing from Melbourne, Fla., returns after averaging 12.6 points per game, shooting 37.8 percent (68 of 180) from distance. He also had 49 assists, 33 steals, 14 blocked shots, while averaging 3.6 rebounds per game.
FAMU also has a trio of veteran backcourt aces returning, headed by junior three-point gunner Justin Ravenel, a 6-1, 175-pound product from Lithonia, Georgia, who shot a nifty 40.1 percent from distance (55 of 137), averaging 9.8 points per game and 2.4 boards per outing, with a superb 86.4 percent showing from the foul line; senior point guard Elijah Mayes, a 6-0, 175 pounder from Orlando, who scored at a 6.1 per game clip, averaged 2.2 rebounds, to go with 90 assists and 27 steals; and versatile senior guard Craig Bowman (St. Petersburg, Fla.), a 6-4, 180 pound performer, who averaged 5.9 points, while shooting 28.1 percent from beyond the arc in 19 games.
Also back for the Rattlers are 6-8, 185-pound junior forward Nick Severado from Savannah, Ga., talented point guard Nasir Core, a 6-2, 205-pound Tampa, Fla., product, Brendon Myles, a 6-4, 195 guard from Atlanta, Ga.,
The cast of newcomers joining the Rattler fold this season includes freshmen like Kamron Reaves, a 6-1, 172 guard from Champaign, Ill., and Bryce Moragne, a 6-5, 195 guard from Tampa, Fla.; sophomores John Clayton, a 6-5, 215-pound wing player Lithonia, Ga., and Rashad Austin, a 6-8, 220 forward from Tampa, Fla.,, and junior college transfers Javonni Harrell, a 6-7, 205 forward from Chicago, Ill., and 7-0, 210 center Isaish Martin from Denver, Colo.
Two future Rattlers redshirting due to transfer rules are 6-10, 245-pound post player Ifyeani Umezurike from Lagos, Nigeria, and 6-9, 195-pound forward D.J. Jones from Brusly, La.
The 2017-18 schedule features 17 non-conference games in November and December, featuring collegiate heavyweights Texas, Miami (Fla.), Mississippi State, UNLV, Murray State, and Georgia Tech.
FAMU opens the season at home on Monday, November 6 against Johnson University (7:00 p.m.) in the Al Lawson Center, and opens their 14-game pre-conference road slate on November 10 at Grand Canyon (Ariz.) University.
MEAC play begins at home this season, as the Rattlers host the Howard University Bison, on Wednesday, January 3 (8:00 p.m.).