basketball Edit

Nzege Sidelined With Knee Injury for ECU Opener Against Grambling

Pirate power forward Michel Nzege is listed as out for the season opener against Grambling.
Pirate power forward Michel Nzege is listed as out for the season opener against Grambling. (PirateIllustrated.com photo)

GREENVILLE - East Carolina opens the 2016-17 basketball campaign Friday night against Grambling State. The Pirates come in with high hopes but will have to open the season one short of a full load.

6-8 senior Michel Nzege will be out with a left knee injury that will cut into the Pirates' overall depth in the front court.

The Pirates plan to start B.J. Tyson at point guard along with Caleb White and Kentrell Barkley on the wings. Clarence Williams and big 7-1 Wake Forest transfer center Andre Washington will open the season in the paint for ECU.

The Pirates beat Grambling 61-53, to open the 2015-16 campaign in the only meeting between the two programs. Caleb White led ECU with 21 points and Kentrell Barkley added eight points to go along with 11 rebounds in his Pirate debut.

East Carolina hasn't lost a home opener in men's basketball since 1999.

Grambling State coach Shawn Walker is 9-51 after two seasons while ECU's Jeff Lebo comes into his seventh year with a 99-100 overall record in Greenville.

The Tigers won just one game in their last month and a half of last season and are predicted last in the Southwestern Athletic Conference while East Carolina comes in ranked 7th in the preseason in the American Athletic Conference.

Click into 6-10, 225 pound redshirt freshman Deng Riak who sat out last season with a shoulder injury that appears to be healed up. He and senior guard Caleb White give their preseason thoughts on PI Audio.

Game time is 8 p.m. on ESPN 3.

PIRATES INK DAVIS TO NATIONAL LETTER OF INTENT

K.J. Davis, a 6-foot-6 guard at I.C. Norcom High School in Portsmouth, Va., has signed a National Letter of Intent to attend and play basketball at East Carolina University beginning with the 2017-18 season, head coach Jeff Lebo announced Thursday.

"We are excited about K.J. joining the Pirate basketball program," Lebo said. "He's a well-rounded young man that will fit well in our culture. He's a terrific offensive talent that has tremendous potential for improvement as he matures."

Davis helped Norcom win its third straight 3A state title earlier this year, scoring 16 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in the championship game, nailing four 3-pointers, to cap a 29-1 campaign.

An honor roll student and two-time all-conference player, Davis was named second-team 3A all-state a year ago as well as a first-team 3A All-East region selection. He played on the AAU circuit for Virginia's Team Loaded as well as Boo Williams.

"Coach Lebo is a great coach and I feel that he can help me become a better player," Davis said. "I'm excited and honored to become a Pirate."

SHEPPARD SUSPENDED

East Carolina freshman guard Jeremy Sheppard was suspended for three games for a violation of team rules on Friday. Sheppard will miss the Grambling game along with the N.C A&T and Charlotte games.