COURTESY: A&T ATHLETICS
EAST GREENSBORO – North Carolina A&T men’s basketball head coach Will Jones, fresh off leading the program to its first conference regular-season title in 30 years, has announced the addition of five new players in the 2021 spring class.
Marcus Watson (6-foot-6, Guard, Winston Salem, N.C., Buford HS, New Mexico State), David Beatty (6-2, Guard, Philadelphia, Pa., Imhotep Charter Academy, La Salle), Justin Whatley (6-8, Forward, Chesapeake, Va., N.C. Central), Demetric Horton (6-5, Guard, Raleigh, N.C., Garner HS, Purdue Fort Wayne) and Kyle Duke (6-3, Guard, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, The Rock HS) will join the A&T men’s basketball program as they transition to the Big South Conference.
“Aggie nation has recently heard me call for a record-breaking year for basketball season ticket sales,” said Jones. “When you talk about this recruiting class as a whole, the fan base should be very excited. These guys wanted to be a part of our culture here at A&T. They wanted to be a part of history as we set sails for the Big South Conference, and they wanted to be a part of the best HBCU brand in the world. I believe these guys will be trailblazers in the history of our program.”
Watson is a transfer out of New Mexico State with three years of eligibility remaining. He competed in 12 games as a Lobo, averaging 3.4 points, 1.8 rebounds and 0.2 assists in 6.5 minutes per game. Watson committed to Oklahoma State straight out of high school, but did not play any contests for the Cowboys before transferring.
A consensus four-star recruit in high school, ESPN ranked Watson No. 17 among small forwards nationally. 247 Sports.com ranked Watson 47th overall in 2018-19. He averaged 17.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game his senior year, including 33 points and 10 boards to lead top-ranked Buford to the 2019 Georgia state championship. The Atlanta Journal Constitutionnamed him first-team all-state Class AAAAA and the Gwinnett County player of the year in both 2018 and 2019.
“Marcus is a high-level player,” said Jones. “A former top 100 player who should prove to be one of the most talented players in the Big South. At 6-foot-6, his versatility and shooting ability should be on display from day one.”
Beatty comes to A&T as a graduate transfer with one year of eligibility. La Salle named him team captain last season as he averaged 8.8 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. He shot 36 percent from 3-point range and 83 percent from the free throw line.
His best season at La Salle came in his junior year when he earned All-Philadelphia Big 5 second-team accolades after leading Explorers with 10.7 points per game.
ESPN and 247Sports.com named Beatty a four-star athlete as prep star. A McDonald’s All-American nominee, Beatty scored 19 points to lead fifth-ranked Imhotep to the PIAA 4A state title. Pennsylvania Sports Writers named Beatty first-team 4A All-State.
“David will give us that combo guard who can score on all three levels,” said Jones. “Also a top 150 player, he competed in the SEC and Atlantic 10. He will provide valuable experience to our team. I expect him to be our enforcer with his tough Philly background.”
Horton is a transfer from Purdue Fort Wayne and will have two years of eligibility remaining. Horton averaged 9.1 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 21.9 minutes per game. He shot 36.7 percent from 3-point range and 73.7 percent from the free throw line. In his two years of community college play, one at Independence CC and one at Cape Fear CC, he averaged 12.9 points per game. At Independence in 2019-20, he captured second-team All-Region VI accolades as the team finished 23-9.
“I’m so excited about Demetric,” said Jones. “He’s the athletic sniper we’ve needed on our roster. He is an efficient scorer who plays in the passing lanes and above the rim.”
Whatley is a transfer from archrival N.C. Central with two years of play remaining. Last season as an Eagle, he averaged 6.2 points and 4.4 rebounds per game while shooting 42 percent from three and 71 percent from the line.
Against ACC foe North Carolina last season, Whatley scored 13 points and dished out four assists. Before NCCU, Whatley spent two seasons at East Carolina. He played 26 games as injuries limited his action.
“I have watched Justin get better year by year,” said Jones. “A skilled post that can defend, rebound and shoot the three. He has a high IQ and a great feel for the game. He will add to our depth inside.”
Duke is an incoming freshman who is ranked 31st in the state of Florida by MaxPreps. He averaged 21.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game his senior year. In 2020-21, he became a first-team All-SIAA Division. Duke led his high school team to a runner-up finish in the state.
He had a big year in 2018, becoming a state champion and a gold medalist for Team Ontario 15U at the Canadian National Championships.
“We needed to locate the next great floor general for our program,” said Jones. “Kyle has shown that his leadership, IQ and talent makes him the best man for the job. At 6-foot-4, he is a three-level scorer, he’s ultra-athletic and he’s a great defender. We are excited about him.”
With Beatty and Watson joining incoming freshman Duncan Powell, the highest-ranked recruit in A&T program history, as well as senior Blake Harris, the Aggies will have four former four-star recruits in their roster next season.