March Madness is almost here and former HBCU hoop stars are expected to play prominent roles.
Count UConn’s R. J. Cole, Longwood’s Jordan Perkins, Texas Tech’s Davion Warren and Fayetteville State’s Zion Cousins among those that fit the bill.
They are all former HBCU ballers – and in Cousins’s case he’s still an HBCU baller – that are having major impacts with new teams.
Bound for March Madness
Cole is the former highly-recruited New Jersey high school talent who spent two years at Howard before joining the Huskies.
With Howard in the Mid Eastern Athletic Conference, the mercurial point guard was a standout. He earned rookie of the year honors as a freshman in the 2017-18 season. League-best averages of 23.7 points and 6.2 assists per game earned him that award.
Cole was named the league’s player of the year as a sophomore in the 2018-19 campaign. His 21.4 ppg. average again topped the league. He was a first-team all-MEAC selection both seasons.
After sitting out the 2019-20 season, Cole averaged 12.2 points and 4.3 assists for the Huskies in the 2020-21 season.
Now a graduate senior, Cole was named first team all-Big East Sunday. He is fifth in the conference at 15.8 points per game, is sixth in assists at 4.1 per game and his 2.2 assists/turnover ratio is fourth in the league. UConn is 22-8 overall, 13-6 in the Big East and seeded third in the tournament behind Providence and Villanova.
Cole and the Huskies are headed into a first round matchup with Seton Hall Thursday night (9:30 p.m.) in the league’s tournament at Madison Square Garden. UConn split its two regular season games vs. Seton Hall.
They are almost a lock for March Madness.
Last season, his 21.2 points per game average for the Pirates led the Big South and was 13th nationally He was named the conference’s player of the year. Warren averaged 12.2 points and 6.2 rebounds as a junior as the Pirates made it to the Big South Tournament finals.
For the 23-8 Red Raiders this season, Warren is the team’s third-leading scorer at 10.1 points per game and pulls down 3.1 rebounds per contest. Texas Tech is third in the Big 12 behind Baylor and Kansas. The Red Raiders will face Iowa State tonight (Thursday, March 10) at 8:30 p.m. in a Big 12 quarterfinal tournament match up. Iowa State and Texas Tech split their two regular season games.
Expect to see Warren in March Madness next week.
March Madness bound: Jordan Perkins
Former NC Central point guard Jordan “Juice” Perkins has found success following his storied career with the Eagles in the MEAC.
Playing as a graduate senior and back-up point guard now at Longwood, Perkins and the Lancers won the Big South tournament championship and the automatic berth to the NCAA Big Dance last week. They defeated Winthrop in Charlotte for the title. Perkins averaged 4.3 points and 2.7 assists this season while playing 21.1 minutes per game as a key backup for the 26-6 Lancers.
They await this weekend’s selection show to find who, where and when they will play in as they begin March Madness
This will be the third trip to the NCAA Tournament for Perkins. He became the starting point guard as a freshman for LeVelle Moton during NCCU’s run to the 2018 MEAC title. He made a return trip to the NCAAs after the Eagles claimed their second straight touney title in 2019. Perkins and the Eagles were the regular season champs and tournament’s top seed in 2020 before the tournament shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Six-eight forward Zion Cousins built his reputation as a top rebounder and inside player during three years at Howard in the MEAC. He’s taken those same talents to Fayetteville State in the CIAA.
At Howard, Cousins averaged above seven rebounds per game in each of his three seasons. He also registered 99 blocks in his three campaigns.
For the 21-8 Broncos this season, Cousins has averaged a team-best 8.1 rebounds per game while scoring at a 7.9 points per game clip. His rebounding average was second in the CIAA. He had nine points and a game-high 13 rebounds as FSU won the CIAA Tournament championship over Virginia Union two Saturdays ago in Baltimore.
FSU received the CIAA’s automatic bid to the NCAA Div. II Atlantic Regional playoffs. They are seeded eighth and will play at top seed and host Indiana (Pa.) Saturday (March 12) at 8 p.m.