|CIAA Player of The Year Angelo Sharpless is always a threat at the rim.|
No. 2 Elizabeth City State vs. No. 3 Johnson C. Smith
Thursday’s first game features perhaps the best two all-around talents in the tournament, Elizabeth City State’s Angelo Sharpless and Johnson C. Smith’s Trevin Parks.
ECSU enters the tourney after a dissapointing loss to Bowie State on Saturday. Had ESCU won that game and Lincoln lost, ECSU would have been the Northern Division’s top seed. The Vikings struggled against Southern Divison opponents, losing four out of six games, including an embarassing 89-57 loss to Johnson C. Smith in Charlotte. The Vikings finally found their groove in league play, winning their first four games against Northern foes. However they went just 3-3 over the final six games of the season, backing in to second place in their division. Despite their recent struggles, the Vikings are worth watching simply because of Sharpless.
The 6’4 senior jumped into the national stage last year with an incredible dunk at the Ben Wallace Pro-Am in Virginia. Always known as an exceptional athlete, this year Sharpless raised his game to another level. Sharpless led the league at rebounding (8.8 rpg), finished third in scoring at 21 points per game while shooting 51 percent from the field and 38 percent from three-point range en route to being named the CIAA Player of the Year last week.
As the host team of the tournament, Johnson C. Smith is hoping that some home cooking will aid them in reversing their current three-game losing streak. JCSU performed well against Northern Division opponents, winning four of those six games. They came out of the gate strong against Southern Division opponents, starting 5-2 before the aforementioned losing streak.
|Johnson C. Smith’s Trevin Parks
led the CIAA in scoring this year (25 ppg.)
The Golden Bulls are a strong offensive team, finishing second in both points per game and field goal percentage. They also have the luxury of having two players that the other teams in the conference would love to have. USC-Salkehatchie transfer Emilo Parks was named All-CIAA after averaging 15.2 points per game while shooting a scorching 64 percent from the field and pulling down nearly seven rebounds per game.
As good as Parks was this season, he may not even be the best player with his last name on the team. Coming off a junior season in which he was named the conference’s player of the year, Parks didn’t disappoint. The two-time Division II All-American led the conference in scoring at 25 points per game, shooting nearly 47 percent from the field and over 41 percent from the three-point arc, all while dishing out four assists per game. He may not have repeated as POY, but that doesn’t mean he’s any less dangerous.
Despite their three-game losing streak, Johnson C. Smith has a lot of fire power. And two of those final three losses were against Livingstone and WSSU, the top two seeds in the Southern Division. As great as it would be for the fans to witness Sharpless’ high-wire act, the Golden Bulls will have just a little two much firepower for the Vikings to handle.
Verdict: Johnson C. Smith in a close one.