Sunday, July 23, 2017

GSU's Broderick Fobbs feels there is still room for improvement for Kincade

GRAMBLING, Louisiana -- Grambling quarterback DeVante Kincade helped lead the Tigers to the HBCU national title and was the SWAC Offensive Player of the Year in 2016, accounting for 35 total touchdowns last season.He was also just named the SWAC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. Despite the hype and past success, Grambling head coach Broderick Fobbs feels there is still room for improvement.

Broderick Fobbs said, "He did a really good job this offseason of really looking at himself on film, and he saw where he made a lot of mistakes. Really, truely what's scary is he left a lot on the table. So, there's a lot of growth there, but also we have to grow as a team as well because we have some new pieces to the puzzle, and we have to fit those pieces in well in order to be successful."

Kincade and the Tigers will open the season on September 2nd against Tulane in New Orleans.


Smith Named Media Preseason Player of the Year, TSU Tigers Picked Third

NASHVILLE, Tennessee -- The Tennessee State football team was picked to finish third in the Preseason Media Poll for the Ohio Valley Conference, while redshirt-senior wide receiver Patrick Smith was selected as the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year.

The Tigers received 112 total points; including two first place votes, to finish behind defending champion Jacksonville State (141) and UT Martin (120). TSU is picked ahead of Eastern Illinois (96), Tennessee Tech (70), Murray State (62), Eastern Kentucky (61), Southeast Missouri (33) and Austin Peay (25).

Tennessee State finished 7-4, 4-3 in the OVC, placing fourth a season ago after being picked to finish sixth in the 2016 preseason media poll. Head coach Rod Reed enters his eighth season and will rely on 60 returners from last year's team, including seven offensive and eight defensive starters.

Smith was a first team All-OVC selection in 2016 after leading the team in receptions (61), yards (966) and touchdowns (13) while starting all 11 games at wide receiver. Smith’s touchdown mark also led all OVC receivers. The Memphis, Tenn. Product reeled in a pass in all eleven games, extending his streak to 21 games over the first two years of his career.

The Tigers will report for fall camp on July 26 in preparation for a trip to Atlanta, Ga. to face Georgia State on Aug. 31.

2017 Media OVC Preseason Football Predicted Order of Finish
1. Jacksonville State (13 first-place votes) - 141 points
2. UT Martin (1) - 120
3. Tennessee State (2) - 112
4. Eastern Illinois - 96
5. Tennessee Tech - 70
6. Murray State - 62
7. Eastern Kentucky - 61
8. Southeast Missouri - 33
9. Austin Peay - 25

2017 Media OVC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Patrick Smith (WR), Tennessee State
2017 Media OVC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Darius Jackson (DE), Jacksonville State


Le'Coe Willingham Named Head Women's Basketball Coach at Fort Valley State

FORT VALLEY, Georgia -- Fort Valley State University's Director of Athletics Dr. Darryl Pope has announced that Le'Coe Willingham a 10-year WNBA veteran as the Lady Wildcats next Head Women's Basketball Coach on July 17, 2017.

"It is our pleasure to welcome Coach Le'Coe Willingham to the Fort Valley State family and Wildcat Country, said Pope, "She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience that will move our program in the right direction. She has the ability to motivate players on and off the court."

Willingham comes to Fort Valley State after serving as the women's assistant coach at Tennessee State University and served as TSU's individual post coach, defensive coordinator, and helped with recruiting. She was an integral part in Tennessee State capturing their first OVC Championship in over 20 years and earning an automatic bid to the 2014-2015 National Tournament. Under Le'Coe's leadership as defensive coordinator, the Tigers were the number one defensive team in the conference.

In 2014-2015, Willingham helped develop Chelsea Hudson, an undersized post player who achieve one of her best seasons averaging 14.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game on her way to earning BOXTOROW All-American Honors, as well as All-OVC Second Team and All-Tournament Team. Willingham also helped four other Tigers earn All-OVC honors; Rachel Allen and Brianna Morrow earned the 2015 All-OVC Tournament Team honors. Imani Davis and Jayda Johnson earned the 2016 All-OVC Second Team.

A native of Augusta, Ga., and former Hephzibah High School standout, Willingham played her last season with the Atlanta Dream in 2013. Willingham was a three-time All-SEC selection out of Auburn, but went undrafted before being signed by Connecticut, where she spent the first four years of her career (2004-07). She then spent two seasons with the Phoenix Mercury (2008-09) and two in Seattle (2010-11).

Willingham's best seasons came in Phoenix, where she averaged 10.1 points and 5.9 rebounds in 2008, and 10.0 points and 4.2 boards in 2009. She set a franchise record for field goal percentage in 2008, by making a league-leading 57.0 percent of her shots. She helped the Mercury to a WNBA championship in 2009 and also was a key reserve for the 2010 Seattle team that defeated Atlanta in the WNBA Finals.

Prior to her stint with the Dream, Willingham was a member of the Chicago Sky where she averaged 18.5 minutes per game – sixth highest on the team. She appeared in all but one game, averaging 3.5 points, 2.9 rebounds and one assist per game.

A standout athlete at Auburn, Willingham is the program's seventh all-time scorer and sixth all-time rebounder. She is among Auburn's top ten career leaders in starts, points, field goals made, field goal percentage, free-throws made, free-throws attempted and rebounds. While attending Hephzibah High School, she won the 1998 AAAA Georgia State Women's State High Jump Title.

At the conclusion of her professional career, Willingham returned to Auburn to obtain a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and is currently pursuing her Masters in Professional Counseling with an emphasis in Trauma.

Media Advisory: Fort Valley State University will host a news conference at a later date to introduce Coach Le'Co Willingham as its new woman's head basketball coach.

For questions or additional information, contact Director of Sports Information Willie K. Patterson, Jr. at 478-825-6437 (office) or


CIAA looking to increase Southwest Virginia presence

ROANOKE, Virginia -- Now that the CIAA has extended its football championship contract with Salem through 2019, talk has turned to a greater Southwest Virginia presence on CIAA rosters.

The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, based in Charlotte, held its football media day Thursday at the Sheraton Roanoke Hotel and Conference Center, a few miles from Salem Stadium, the home of the CIAA’s Nov. 11 title game.

Winston-Salem State defeated Bowie State 43-33 in last year’s conference title game, which was moved when Salem was named the replacement location for Durham, North Carolina, in October 2016. That move was the result of the league moving its North Carolina-based championships in reaction to the state’s HB2 law.

“I thought it worked out really well,” said Kermit Blount, a past president of the CIAA football coaches’ association who is entering his third season as the head coach at Johnson C. Smith in Charlotte.

Blount has worked at historically black colleges throughout his career, including head coaching stops at Delaware State and Winston-Salem State, which is his alma mater.  Blount was a spectator at last year’s CIAA title game.


Wiley College Introduces MacNeill as Head Volleyball Coach

Mike MacNeill is the first male head coach in Wiley Volleyball program history

MARSHALL, Texas -- On Friday at Alumni Gymnasium, Wiley College made history by introducing their first male women's volleyball head coach Mike MacNeill during a press conference.

"I have plans to help this program get back to winning conference championships and competing for NAIA Championships," MacNeill said. "I believe with the standards and expectations I have for our players, they will rise to the occasion."

MacNeill replaces LaKyva Bason – who went 28-18 in her second stint as coach and led the Lady Wildcats to two Red River Athletic Conference Semifinal Appearances. MacNeill joins the Wiley College coaching staff after spending two years as a high school boys' volleyball coach at Riverside Poly in California. The school hadn't won a match before MacNeill took over. He went 38-12 and guided Riverside Poly to the CIF Southern Section Championship semifinals.

Prior to Riverside Poly, MacNeill was the girls' volleyball coach at Martin Luther High School in Riverside, California. He led them to the CIF Southern Section Division 1A Quarterfinals and Semifinals in 2013 and 2014.

MacNeill excelled as a volleyball player – playing all positions on the court. He helped Clovis High School won back to back CIF Championships in his junior and senior season. He led California Baptist University to two NAIA Championships.

Wiley College Athletic Director Dr. Joseph Morale – who is also the Vice President for Student Affairs and Retention Services - explained why MacNeill was the perfect candidate for Wiley College.

"I realized that he was competitive knowledgeable and passionate," Morale said. "I knew he was the one when he referred to his family, there was a joy, and love that you cannot fake. He loves his wife and kids and he will love and care for his players."

The Lady Wildcats return nine from last season's 18-12 team which finished third in the Red River Athletic Conference with a 10-4 record and reached the conference semifinals. Returning players Alissa Johnson (FR/Beaumont, Texas) – who was a RRAC All-Conference Honorable Mention – and Kaylee Nickerson – who redshirt last season – were present.

"I feel like he is focused," Johnson said. "I feel like he can get on the court with us and dive for balls. Since he played all positions, he can help everyone."

MacNeill is excited to work with his new team.

"This group is something special," MacNeill said. "When I spoke to them on the phone, they said wanted to be challenged more and disciplined more. All the things that I'm going to bring, they were excited about it."

He is married to Holly MacNeill. Together they have two children Blake and Elizabeth. The MacNeill era begins on August 18 at the RRAC and Sooner Athletic Conference Crossover Tournament. MacNeill's first home game will be 6 p.m. August 29 against Mid-America Christian.


Two Impact Signees Join Bethune-Cookman Hoops

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida -- Bethune-Cookman University men's basketball Head Coach Ryan Ridder is pleased to announce two additions to the program in JUCO signees Armani Collins and David Francis.

"Collins is a 6-6 guard from the City College of San Francisco and we are excited about his abilities to stretch the floor," said Ridder. "He has similarities to Brandon Tabb in that he has a quick, high release and can shoot it from deep. He has experience at the Division 1 level and being a significant contrinuter for a very good junior college team."

In 31 games last season, Collins averaged 11 points-per-game and 4.4 rebounds-per-game. He shot 37.6% from three and 86.7% at the free-throw line. Collins also collected 18 steals and 24 blocks. His season-bests were a 25-point, 5-9 three-point shooting performance on Mar. 9 against Antelope Valley.

Collins signed with Portland State out of Stuart Hall High School in San Francisco. As a senior in 2016, he averaged 19.7 points and 6.8 rebounds per-game in leading Stuart Hall to a 30-4 record and perfect 10-0 mark in league play. He was named First Team All-Division 5 and Fifth Team All-NorCal by Max Preps. As a junior, Collins averaged 18.0 points and 7.9 rebounds per-game. He was team MVP as a junior and a senior and graduated holding the record for career scoring at Stuart Hall.

"Francis is a 6-6 forward from the College of Southern Maryland and originally from the Brooklyn, N.Y.," said Ridder. "He brings a relentless motor, toughness, and maturity from dealing with some off the court issues that made him grow up more than most young people have to. We are excited about the experience and toughness that he brings."

Francis joins the Wildcats after averaging 17 points and 8.8 rebounds-per-game for the Hawks last season. In 32 games, he shot 52.7% from the floor and 33.3% beyond-the-arc. The forward ranked 11th nationally with 117 offensive rebounds, and was 22nd with 283 total boards. Francis also blocked 34 shots and totaled 31 steals. He had a season-high of 16 rebounds twice and scored 20 or more points in 12 contests, with two 27-point outbursts for his season-highs.

He was named Second Team All-Region XX, Honorable Mention All-MD JUCO team and Region XX Tournament MVP. The Empire State native attended the Boys & Girls High School.

"They are both quality young men and we are excited to see what they can bring to Bethune-Cookman men's basketball," said Ridder.


Southern's Danny Johnson is ready to be a leader in a veteran defensive backfield

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana -- Southern's Danny Johnson led the Football Championship Subdivision with seven interceptions in 2016.

Not good enough. His goal was 10.

Johnson finished with the fourth-most total tackles and had by far the most solo tackles on the Jaguars defense last year.

Not good enough. He could have been in better position to make more stops.

Given a significant boost by Johnson, Southern finished with a Southwestern Athletic Conference record of 8-1.

Not good enough — in more ways than one.

Heading into the 2017 season, Johnson isn’t assuming a new leadership role or taking on any duties he didn't have the past three years. He has been one of the best defenders, if not the best, and a defensive leader for the Jaguars since he first stepped on campus in the summer of 2014.

But as a senior, Johnson is now the unquestioned face of the Southern defense. And while nothing may ever be good enough for a player who constantly pushes himself to be his best, that isn’t going to stop him from trying.