2023-24 North Carolina Sports Network
North Carolina Basketball Spotlight:
UNC Wilmington

By Ben McCormick
North Carolina Sports Network

School: University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNC Wilmington)

Location: Wilmington, N.C.

NCAA DI Member Since: 1976-77

Conference: Coastal Athletic Association (CAA)

CAA Member Since: 1984-85

CAA Ranking Among 32 Leagues (KenPom): 26th (2023), 14th (2022), 19th (2021), 18th (2020)

NCAA Tournament Bids: 6 (2000, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2016, 2017)

Conference Titles: 6 (2000, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2016, 2017)

Conference 1st-Place Finishes: 9 (1997, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2022)

Head Coach: Takayo Siddle (37 years old, fourth season)

As A Player: Gardner-Webb (2005-09)

Record As Head Coach (Through Feb. 7): 74-35 (.679) in 3+ seasons

Previous Head Coaching Experience: none

College AC Experience: Gardner-Webb (2010-14), UNCW (2014-17), NC State (2017-20)

Assistant Under: Kevin Keatts, Chris Holtmann, Tim Craft

2022-23 Record: 24-10, 12-6 (3rd in 13-team CAA)

2023-24 Preseason Prediction (Coaches): 2nd in 14-team CAA

2023-24 Record (Through Feb. 7): 16-6, 7-3 CAA

2023-24 Midseason Ranking (KenPom): #113 nationally (2nd in CAA)

Upcoming Schedule Highlights: Drexel (2/8), North Carolina A&T (2/15), Elon (2/17), at Campbell (2/26), Hofstra (2/29), Towson (3/2)

UNC Wilmington has been the CAA Tournament runner-up two years in a row. In this season’s preseason poll, UNCW was pegged for second place. Entering the Seahawks’ Feb. 8 home game against league-leading Drexel, they were tied for — you guessed it — second place.

Clearly, though, fourth-year head coach Takayo Siddle won’t let any close calls of the past threaten his team’s resolve as it nears this year’s March Madness edition with all of its biggest goals still within reach.

“Shortly after the (championship) game, you kind of have to remove yourself from it and start thinking about how you can get better, so it doesn’t happen again if you’re fortunate enough to get back in that position,” Siddle said. “We’re excited about the returners first and foremost. They’re going to be a huge part of the reason why we win.”

Among those returners are UNCW’s top four scorers from last season: forward Trazarien White and guards Maleeck Harden-Hayes, Shykeim Phillips and Donovan Newby.

During the Seahawks’ impressive 16-6 start this season, White, a preseason first-team All-CAA pick, has lived up to that lofty billing, averaging a team-best 20.3 points and 7.0 rebounds per game while also posting career highs in field goal, free throw and 3-point percentage. White averaged 14.2 points and 5.9 rebounds last year.

Phillips has shown an impressive jump in his production compared to last season, too. Harden-Hayes has been spectacular at times this season, although he hasn’t played since he suffered an injury against Delaware on Jan. 14.

While the returners are paramount to UNCW’s success, there also are some new faces who are having immediate impacts in Wilmington.

New Mexico transfer KJ Jenkins, who has started nine games (including the last five) this season, might be the biggest name among the newcomers. The 6-foot-2 guard is averaging 11.6 points per game while shooting 37.9 percent from long distance and 84.6 percent from the free throw line.

UNCW lacks size. The team’s starting post player last season, 6-9, 230-pound forward Amari Kelly, transferred to George Mason for his final year of eligibility. He’s become one of the Patriots’ best players this season, with averages of 12.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.

The Seahawks’ tallest player in 2023-24 is 6-9, 210-pound redshirt sophomore Khamari McGriff, who starts every game at center but averages just four points and three rebounds per game. Thus far this season, whereas UNCW has dominated in many statistical categories, it has only broken even on the boards, and that often proves costly, mainly at the defensive end of the floor.

What the Seahawks lack on the interior, though, they often make up for with depth; Siddle utilizes 11 players for 10-plus minutes per game. No player averages even 30 minutes per game, which is unusual in college hoops, but that approach tends to keep UNCW fresher than its opponents down the stretch.

With only eight games remaining in their 30-game regular-season schedule, the Seahawks have experienced both sensational success (highlighted by their unforgettable 80-73 victory at #12 Kentucky on Dec. 2) and some painful disappointments, including early nonconference losses to intrastate foes Appalachian State and East Carolina.

Most importantly, though, they’re back where they wanted to be and where they’ve been for three years running now — squarely in the hunt for the CAA regular-season and/or tournament championship.

2023-24 UNC Wilmington Seahawks
(16-6, 7-3 CAA; through Feb. 7)


PG Shykeim Phillips*, Gr. — 26 mpg, 14 ppg, 3 rpg, 50% FG, 83% FT, 35% threes, 70/23 ATO, 5 blocks, 37 steals
(6-2/190); 4-year starter; 2022 All-Defense; 2020 All-Rookie; South Central HS; Winterville, N.C.

Maleeck Harden-Hayes*, Gr. — 26 mpg, 10 ppg, 5 rpg, 40% FG, 82% FT, 30% threes, 9/14 ATO, 4 blocks, 6 steals
(6-7/200); 2022 North Dakota State transfer (part-time starter); Moorhead HS; Moorhead, Minn.

Donovan Newby, Sr. — 24 mpg, 8 ppg, 2 rpg, 39% FG, 89% FT, 30% threes, 42/12 ATO, 0 blocks, 13 steals
(6-1/185); 2022 UW-Milwaukee transfer (starter); Bloom HS; Chicago Heights, Ill.

Trazarien White*, Jr. — 30 mpg, 20 ppg, 7 rpg, 49% FG, 70% FT, 38% threes, 41/45 ATO, 9 blocks, 18 steals
(6-7/190); 2021 Collin CC transfer; 2nd-team All-CAA; Timberview HS; Mansfield, Texas

Khamari McGriff, r-So. — 16 mpg, 4 ppg, 3 rpg, 74% FG, 69% FT, 5/16 ATO, 19 blocks, 8 steals
(6-9/210); 2023 UNCW reserve; 2022 redshirt; Rickards HS; Tallahassee, Fla.

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

Key Reserves

KJ Jenkins, Gr. — 24 mpg, 12 ppg, 3 rpg, 40% FG, 85% FT, 38% threes, 20/11 ATO, 0 blocks, 15 steals
(6-2/180); 2023 New Mexico transfer (backup); Creekview HS; Atlanta, Ga.

Nolan Hodge, So. — 16 mpg, 4 ppg, 3 rpg, 39% FG, 61% FT, 33% threes, 14/10 ATO, 2 blocks, 9 steals
(6-7/180); 2023 UNCW reserve; 2nd-team all-state at Northern Guilford HS; Greensboro, N.C.

Noah Ross, So. — 17 mpg, 4 ppg, 3 rpg, 44% FG, 93% FT, 34% threes, 12/10 ATO, 4 blocks, 12 steals
(6-7/205); 2023 part-time UNCW starter; 2x NCISSA all-state at Trinity Academy; Apex, N.C.

Shemar Rathan-Mayes, Sr. — 11 mpg, 3 ppg, 1 rpg, 50% FG, 77% FT, 53% threes, 31/11 ATO, 1 blocks, 7 steals
(5-11/175); 2023 Youngstown State transfer (3-year starter); Orangeville Prep; Scarborough, Ontario

Nick Farrar, Sr. — 11 mpg, 5 ppg, 2 rpg, 48% FG, 78% FT, 46% threes, 18/12 ATO, 1 block, 8 steals
(6-7/255); 2022 Charleston transfer (backup); Apex Friendship HS; Apex, N.C.

UNC Wilmington Seahawks
10-Year Snapshot

2022-23 — 24-10, 12-6 CAA (3rd), no postseason (Takayo Siddle)
2021-22 — 27-9, 15-3 CAA (t-1st), CBI champion (Takayo Siddle)
2020-21 — 7-10, 1-6 CAA (10th), no postseason (Takayo Siddle)
2019-20 — 10-22, 5-13 CAA (9th), no postseason (C.B. McGrath)
2018-19 — 10-23, 5-13 CAA (10th), no postseason (C.B. McGrath)
2017-18 — 11-21, 7-11 CAA (6th), no postseason (C.B. McGrath)
2016-17 — 29-6, 15-3* CAA (1st), NCAA 1st round (Kevin Keatts)
2015-16 — 25-8, 14-4* CAA (t-1st), NCAA 1st round (Kevin Keatts)
2014-15 — 18-14, 12-6 CAA (t-1st), CIT 1st round (Kevin Keatts)
2013-14 — 9-23, 3-13 CAA (9th), no postseason (Buzz Peterson)

*—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 and all 15 Atlantic Coast Conference programs.

Appalachian State Mountaineers, Sun Belt Conference

Boston College Eagles, Atlantic Coast Conference

Campbell Camels, Coastal Athletic Association

Charlotte 49ers, American Athletic Conference

Clemson Tigers, Atlantic Coast Conference

Davidson Wildcats, Atlantic-10 Conference

Duke Blue Devils, Atlantic Coast Conference

East Carolina Pirates, American Athletic Conference

Elon Phoenix, Coastal Athletic Association

Florida State Seminoles, Atlantic Coast Conference

Gardner-Webb Runnin’Bulldogs, Big South Conference

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Atlantic Coast Conference

High Point Panthers, Big South Conference

Louisville Cardinals, Atlantic Coast Conference

Miami Hurricanes, Atlantic Coast Conference

NC Central Eagles, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference

NC State Wolfpack, Atlantic Coast Conference

North Carolina Tar Heels, Atlantic Coast Conference

North Carolina A&T Aggies, Coastal Athletic Association

Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Atlantic Coast Conference

Pitt Panthers, Atlantic Coast Conference

Queens Royals, Atlantic Sun Conference

Syracuse Orange, Atlantic Coast Conference

UNC Asheville, Big South Conference

UNC Greensboro Spartans, Southern Conference

Virginia Cavaliers, Atlantic Coast Conference

Virginia Tech Hokies, Atlantic Coast Conference

Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Atlantic Coast Conference

Western Carolina Catamounts, Southern Conference