2023-24 North Carolina Sports Network
NC Basketball Spotlight, 10-Year Snapshot:
North Carolina Central

By Ben McCormick
North Carolina Sports Network

School: North Carolina Central

Location: Durham, N.C.

NCAA Division I Member Since: 2011-12

Conference: Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC)

MEAC Member Since: 2011-12 (also a member from 1971-80, when MEAC was Division II)

MEAC Ranking Among 32 Leagues (KenPom): 28th (2023), 30th (2022), 31st (2021), 32nd (2020)

NCAA Tournament Bids: 4 (2014, 2017, 2018, 2019)

Conference Titles: 4 (2014, 2017, 2018, 2019)

Conference 1st-Place Finishes: 4 (2014, 2015, 2017, 2020)

Head Coach: LeVelle Moton (49 years old, 15th season)

As A Player: N.C. Central (1992-96); 4-year pro career internationally

Record as Head Coach (Through Dec. 9): 250-191 in 14+ seasons

Previous Head Coaching Experience: none at NCAA level

College AC Experience: N.C. Central (2007-09)

Assistant Under: Henry Dickerson

2022-23 Record: 18-12, 10-4 (2nd in 8-team MEAC)

2023-24 Preseason Prediction (Coaches): 3rd in 8-team MEAC

2023-24 Record (Through Dec. 11): 4-7, 0-0 MEAC

2023-24 Midseason Ranking (KenPom): #282 nationally (3rd in MEAC)

Upcoming Schedule Highlights: at North Carolina A&T (12/12), Longwood (12/20)

MEAC Opener: Howard (1/6)

N.C. Central’s depth this season is no joke. Twelve players average 10+ minutes per game on coach LeVelle Moton’s squad, and 10 guys have appeared in the starting lineup already.

That’s a night-and-day difference compared to last year’s Eagles, when the starting lineup was constant for nearly all 30 games. The only irregular starter to get the nod in 2022-23 was Fred Cleveland Jr., who appeared in the first five just once in 30 games.

Then again, nothing about this year’s NCCU team is constant. Four of last year’s starters were seniors or graduate students. The fifth, two-time All-MEAC guard Justin Wright, transferred to Loyola Marymount.

Of the team’s 17 players in 2023-24, 13 came to the Eagles via the transfer route — with 10 new portal additions this year alone.

The new additions have promise, though. In the preseason, the Eagles were picked to finish third in the MEAC, largely because of the potential of some of the newcomers, such as Po’Boigh King, a junior college transfer who is leading the team in scoring at nearly 15 points per game.

King is joined in the backcourt by returnees Ja’Darius Harris and Cleveland Jr., a preseason third-team All-MEAC pick. Each averages just below 14 points per game. Central definitely has the ability to attack defenses with a variety of threats around the perimeter.

However, NCCU has been hit hard by injuries. Three of its starters have missed time, including Cleveland Jr. and Harris, who both exited the Dec. 2 loss to USC Upstate early. (Neither of the guards has returned to action.) Forward Emmanuel Izunabor missed multiple games with an injury before making his return in the Eagles’ Dec. 9 game against Radford.

“I don’t know too many teams in the nation that can do without three or four starters and still play to the level that they would hope for,” Moton said.

Like many other low-major programs, the Eagles lack size. That has made matchups with juggernauts such as #2 Kansas difficult.

“We got to give a valiant effort and be really limited in our mistakes,” Moton said. “That’s the thing when you’re playing high-majors, you know, and I love playing those games, honestly. I’m up for the challenge. You got to be really limited because the margin for error is slim to none.”

The Eagles’ struggles have been increasingly evident lately. After starting the season 4-4, NCCU is in the midst of a three-game losing streak.

While it’s true that three of the Eagles’ seven losses are to Power Six programs, they also have suffered some losses to lower-rated teams, such as USC Upstate.

Especially given Moton’s sensational track record, including five MEAC championships and four NCAA Tournament trips (a likely fifth, in 2020, was prevented by COVID) in the past decade, it will be interesting to see how the Eagles compete in conference play, especially once they are closer to full health.


2023-24 NC Central Eagles
(4-7, 0-0 MEAC; through Dec. 11)


G Po’Boigh King, So. — 31 mpg, 15 ppg, 5 rpg, 44% FG, 74% FT, 30% threes, 18/19 ATO, 2 blocks, 16 steals
(6-4/195); 2023 Harcum transfer (reserve); Mount Zion Christian Academy, Roanoke Rapids, N.C.

G Fred Cleveland Jr., Sr. — 27 mpg, 14 ppg, 3 rpg, 44% FG, 94% FT, 32% threes, 35/29 ATO, 1 block, 13 steals
(5-9/165); 2022 Itawamba CC transfer (starter); also N.C. A&T (2019-21); from Chicago, Ill.

G Keishon Porter, Jr. — 20 mpg, 6 ppg, 3 rpg, 38% FG, 62% FT, 23% threes, 2/5 ATO, 5 blocks, 15 steals
(6-5/195); 2023 Cape Fear CC transfer (starter); also Radford (2020-21); from Pinetops, N.C.

G Cobey Harraway, Jr. — 16 mpg, 2 ppg, 2 rpg, 19% FG, 44% FT, 19% threes, 9/6 ATO, 5 blocks, 3 steals
(6-7/187); 2023 State College of Florida transfer (starter); Army and Navy Academy, Seattle, Wash.

F Emmanuel Izunabor, r-Sr. — 19 mpg, 5 ppg, 5 rpg, 59% FG, 58% FT, 6/5 ATO, 9 blocks, 7 steals
(6-8/225); 2023 High Point transfer (2-year starter); from Fayetteville Academy and Lagos, Nigeria

Key Reserves

G Ja’Darius Harris, r-Sr. — 27 mpg, 14 ppg, 2 rpg, 48% FG, 93% FT, 38% threes, 18/16 ATO, 0 blocks, 7 steals
(6-2/175); 2021 East Florida State College transfer; also UT Martin (2019-20); from Trenton, Tenn.

G Josh Smith, So. — 15 mpg, 8 ppg, 2 rpg, 42% FG, 72% FT, 35% threes, 15/9 ATO, 1 block, 9 steals
(6-4/175); 2023 Independence CC transfer (part-time starter); from Chicago, Ill.

G Guy Fauntleroy, So. — 11 mpg, 4 ppg, 1 rpg, 29% FG, 85% FT, 30% threes, 14/8 ATO, 1 block, 4 steals
(6-0/172); 2023 Austin Peay transfer (part-time starter); Olympus Prep, Upper Marlboro, Md.

F Perry Smith Jr., So. — 23 mpg, 7 ppg, 5 rpg, 67% FG, 61% FT, 1/13 ATO, 8 blocks, 9 steals
(6-9/230); 2023 Vermont transfer (reserve); from Legacy Early College and Augusta, Ga.

F Devin Gordon, Jr. — 19 mpg, 5 ppg, 1 rpg, 44% FG, 27% FT, 32% threes, 4/5 ATO, 2 blocks, 7 steals
(6-5/205); 2022 Mississippi Valley State transfer (part-time starter); from Powder Springs, Ga.

F Timmy Adedire, Jr. — 10 mpg, 3 ppg, 2 rpg, 56% FG, 100% FT (few), 7/6 ATO, 0 blocks, 5 steals
(6-4/208); 2-year reserve for Eagles; from Perry Hall HS and Baltimore, Md.

F Terrence Crawford, Jr. — 10 mpg, 2 ppg, 2 rpg, 23% FG, 23% threes, 1/1 ATO, 0 blocks, 1 steal
(6-2/170); 2-year reserve for Eagles; from Burlington Cummings HS and Graham, N.C.

*—returning starter (started at least 50% of current team’s games last season)


NC Central Eagles
10-Year Snapshot

Season — Overall, League (Place), Postseason

2022-23 — 18-12, 10-4 MEAC (2nd), no postseason (LeVelle Moton)
2021-22 — 16-15, 8-5 MEAC (3rd), no postseason (LeVelle Moton)
2020-21 — 5-9, 3-5 MEAC (6th), no postseason (LeVelle Moton)
2019-20 — 18-13, 13-3 MEAC (1st), no postseason (LeVelle Moton)
2018-19 — 18-16, 10-6* MEAC (3rd), NCAA First Four (LeVelle Moton)
2017-18 — 19-16, 9-7* MEAC (6th), NCAA First Four (LeVelle Moton)
2016-17 — 25-9, 13-3* MEAC (1st), NCAA First Four (LeVelle Moton)
2015-16 — 13-19, 7-9 MEAC (6th), no postseason (LeVelle Moton)
2014-15 — 25-8, 16-0 MEAC (1st), NIT 1st Round (LeVelle Moton)
2013-14 — 28-6, 15-1* MEAC (1st), NCAA 1st Round (LeVelle Moton)

*—conference champion

NOTE: Please visit the North Carolina Sports Network’s 2023-24 profiles and 10-year snapshots for all 19 Division One men’s basketball programs in North Carolina.

Appalachian State Mountaineers, Sun Belt Conference

Charlotte 49ers, American Athletic Conference

Davidson Wildcats, Atlantic-10 Conference

East Carolina Pirates, American Athletic Conference

High Point Panthers, Big South Conference

UNC Greensboro Spartans, Southern Conference

UNC Wilmington Seahawks, Coastal Athletic Association

Western Carolina Catamounts, Southern Conference