We continue our conference previews with the MEAC. Every week on Twitter, we preview two conferences while streaming live from the Mid-Major Madness account (@mid_madness), speaking with media members and coaches throughout the selected league.
For the full Twitter Space, hit the link below:
To open the conversation, Mid-Major Madness writer Nick Lorensen and Ethan Hennessy from Happening Hoops recapped what happened in the MEAC last season and so far this offseason.
Norfolk State not only made its third NCAA Tournament under Rob Jones, but completed the best non-conference record in MEAC history. NSU returns most of the team including the MEAC Player of the Year, Joe Bryant Jr.
The transfer portal was a gift for the rest of the league. Stars from around the country including Sam Sessoms (Binghamton/Penn State/Coppin State), Fah’Mir Ali (Radford/College of Charleston/Delaware State), Daniel Oladapo (Oakland/Pittsburgh/NC Central), and Brendan Medley-Bacon (Coppin State/VCU/McNeese State/NC Central) joined the league, setting up for another competitive season in the MEAC.
Opening the conversations with coaches, NC Central head coach LeVelle Moton (7:55) hopped on to talk about how he’s built his alma mater into a DI powerhouse.
“The crazier thing about me signing with North Carolina Central as a kid, it was a very similar process as an adult when I returned there,” Moton said. “North Carolina Central asked me to be the coach three times and I declined them.”
The Eagles have been the MEAC representative in the NCAA Tournament four times since he became the head coach in 2009.
Soon after, Rob Jones (1:02:10) joined to talk about what he’s built on Hampton Roads. The Spartans had the best non-conference in MEAC history last season and went 11-0 at home.
Their two best players in Kris Bankston and Bryant Jr. return to the program as well.
“Joe and Kris Bankston were are two biggest recruits,” Jones said. “We felt like if we could get Joe and Kris Bankston back, that would put us in a good space in the league and in non-conference schedule because I truly believe that they're two of the better players in the MEAC and in mid-major basketball.”
NSU plays Baylor, UCLA, and Houston in the nonconference. Expect them to startle at least one of those programs.
Closing out our conversations with coaches, UMES head coach Jason Crafton (1:09:45) came on to speak about what he’s built in Princess Anne. The Eagles were picked dead last in the country by Sports Illustrated last season but finished with double-digit wins for the first time since 2017.
“You know you’re taking over something tough when you win 11 games and you’re getting love like this,” Crafton said. “We gotta just keep building the brand of being a tenacious program that does things one way.”
Ethan and Nick then continued the conversation by previewing every team in the league. To hear about your team, advance the recording to each time stamp.
56:05 Coppin State
1:22:00 Delaware State
1:34:25 Morgan State
1:37:55 South Carolina State
1:40:40 POTY & Title Predictions
Along with the Twitter Space, Nick talked to Coppin State head coach Juan Dixon about the program he’s rebuilt in his hometown of Baltimore. The Eagles won the MEAC regular season title in 2021 and made the MEAC Tournament title game a year later.
This season, Dixon and Coppin have one of the best backcourts in the mid-major ranks with Sessoms and 2X All-MEAC player, Nendah Tarke, leading the attack.
“I’m looking forward to us doing some special things,” Dixon said. “But most importantly, we have highly quality men both off and on the court and I think that’s a recipe for success.”
To listen to our whole interview with Dixon, click the link: Juan Dixon Interview
Along with the MEAC, a preview article for the Southland will also come out this week. Stay tuned for the Twitter Space previews on the MAAC and Mountain West.