WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The Kevin Keatts era at UNCW will begin this fall without Luke Hager and Nate Anderson. Their scholarships have been rescinded by the university in an apparent move to make room for new players. Below we’ve posted a story from Eric Detweiler from the Wilmington Star News.
Click the play video icon to see our report on the the departure of Hager and Anderson.
Note: UNCW Senior Associate Athletic Director Joe Browning on Wednesday confirmed with WWAY that Hager and Anderson will not be returning to the team.
WILMINGTON (STAR NEWS) — Kevin Keatts isn’t finished tinkering with the roster he’ll take into his debut season as UNCW men’s basketball coach.
Forwards Luke Hager and Nate Anderson — both of whom were set to enter their fourth seasons in the program — won’t return to the Seahawks in 2014-2015, Keatts said Tuesday.
Those departures clear the way to add UNC Charlotte transfer Marcus Bryan, a 6-foot-7 forward who will have three seasons of eligibility remaining after sitting out next season. The team will also have one scholarship left available for a possible late addition.
Keatts declined to talk specifically about the decisions not to bring back Hager and Anderson. Hager has been granted permission to seek transfer, but he’s unsure of his next move so late in the recruiting cycle. Anderson said he plans to stay at the school and graduate with a degree in tourism management next spring.
“We think this is the best decision for the program at (this) time,” Keatts said. “We’re encouraging both of those guys to try to finish out and graduate here if they can.”
Hager, a 6-foot-8, 205-pound forward from Chicago, struggled to explain the move in a phone interview Tuesday. He had a regular role off the bench for UNCW last season, averaging 4.3 points and 2.9 rebounds in 14.5 minutes per game. He played in 28 of 32 games with a pair of starts and would have been a redshirt junior for 2014-2015.
In recent weeks, Hager had been participating in UNCW’s summer workouts and thought he was playing well. He cut short a previously scheduled lifting session last Thursday for a meeting with Keatts where the coach told him his scholarship wouldn’t be renewed.
Hager could transfer to a Division II school and play right away, but he’d have to get an NCAA waiver to move to another Division I school and keep two years of eligibility left. He said he’s set to graduate in December if he stays at UNCW in the fall.
Hager expressed his disappointment in the staff’s decision to athletic director Jimmy Bass in a Monday meeting. He reminded Bass that he’d opted to stay with the team through its postseason ban for low scores on the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate.
“I stuck through all the APR crap that went on, and I feel like I’ve been nothing but loyal to this program and not gotten in trouble and made good grades,” Hager said. “I guess they just want to bring in their own recruits and go in another direction. I didn’t see it coming at all. It’s kind of amazing it was me of all people.”
Anderson sat out 2013-2014 with a knee injury. The 6-foot-9, 235-pound Ohio native projected as a forward capable of stretching the defense with his shooting range but never developed as expected. After playing in 22 games as a true freshman, he played in just 48 minutes over 11 games in 2012-2013 before losing last season to injury.
Anderson said he got the news that his scholarship wouldn’t be renewed via a phone call from assistant Casey Stanley last month before the first summer session began. He hadn’t been cleared for full contact by his doctor at that point but has been since then. “It’s just part of life, and it happens,” Anderson said. “Overall, it’s a business. They don’t want me there, and I have to get ready for the future.”
The moves make it possible that UNCW will have 10 eligible scholarship players in 2014-2015 with at least two others — Bryan and former Jacksonville guard Jarvis Haywood — sitting out per NCAA transfer rules. The NCAA allows teams to have 13 players on scholarship per season.
Keatts said he believes the group of eight returning players plus freshmen Malik Pugh and Jordon Talley provides “plenty” of options to get through a season. He also expects to add at least two walk-ons to the roster.
“With that next scholarship, we could certainly go with a high school kid who’s eligible to play or we could take a look at the (junior college) route (or) obviously another transfer,” Keatts said. “We still have the option to bring in one more guy who can play right away.”
Bryan provides a natural replacement for starting forward Cedrick Williams, who will be a senior in 2013-2014. The Raleigh native originally committed to Appalachian State in October 2012 but later switched to Charlotte. He averaged 3.5 points and 2.4 rebounds in 12.4 minutes per game for the 49ers as a freshman, though his minutes fluctuated throughout the season.
Keatts said he came to know Bryan when he recruited the forward’s former high school teammate Anton Gill to Louisville.
“You’ll have him in the system for a year a lot like Jarvis,” Keatts said. “Those two guys get a chance to grow together and be ready to step right in in their second year here.”
CHICAGO (SKY) — The Chicago Sky shook off four consecutive losses to beat the New York Liberty in overtime, 105-100, in front of 6,716 fans on Camp Day at Allstate Arena. Jessica Breland’s return from a lower leg injury inspired the team as she scored a career-high 22 points in 31 minutes, including 8 points in overtime.
Tina Charles and Cappie Pondexter combined for 54 points and Anna Cruz chipped in 17 for New York, but Chicago had five players in double figures, led by Epiphanny Prince with season highs in points (30) and assists (7) as well as a career-high 6 steals. Tamera Young delivered 11 points and 12 rebounds for her first double- double of the season (second of her career). Markeisha Gatling contributed 14 points, all in the second half, and Courtney Vandersloot added 17 points and 8 assists.
Chicago got things started with a strong first quarter that saw the Sky lead by as many as six behind Courtney Vandersloot’s 8 points. They opened the quarter with a 6-0 run and closed with a 6-0 run to take a five-point lead at the end of the first period, 20-15.
Chicago stretched the lead to eight (28-20) to start the second quarter. The Liberty rallied, going on a 16-3 run over 3:21 to turn that eight-point Sky lead into a five- point New York lead (36-31). The Sky got it back to one point after Prince got to the line, making all four attempts, but Cappie Pondexter (29 points) closed the half with a pull-up jumper to put New York back up 38-35 at halftime.
The Sky used a 14-5 early in the third to regain the lead. After a back and forth third quarter the Sky used a 13-2 run capped off by a four-point play by Prince to gain their largest lead of the game at 62-52. Prince finished with 15 points in the quarter as the Sky took a 64-59 lead into the fourth.
The Liberty used a 17-5 run at the start of the fourth quarter to take a 69-67 advantage. The two teams battled back and forth before Vandersloot nailed a huge three from the right wing with 1:24 to go to put the Sky up by six. Pondexter responded with six consecutive New York points to tie the game back up with 45 seconds remaining. Both teams had the chance to take the lead in the final minute, but Prince missed a tough layup and Pondexter’s jumper as time was no good as time expired, sending the game into overtime.
The Sky established a lead to start overtime when Prince hit a three to make it 95-92 with 2:28 remaining, and they led by four with 39 seconds left after Prince found Breland for a layup to make it 101-97. Pondexter nailed a tough three out of a timeout with 35 seconds left to pull it back to a one-point game. Breland hit a clutch step-back jumper to ice the game helping the Sky run away with a 105-100 victory.
The Sky return to action at Allstate Arena on Friday, June 20, when they host the Indiana Fever at 7:30 p.m. CT. The game will be broadcast on The U Too and WNBA LiveAccess.
MOREHEAD CITY, NC (WWAY) — The Morehead City Marlins edged the Wilmington Sharks 12-9 on Wednesday. The same two teams will play in Wilmington on Thursday night at 7pm.