NEW ORLEANS — Xavier University of Louisiana will open the 2016-17 men's basketball season Tuesday with eight student-athletes in their first season with the program.
The Gold Rush, 21-13 and a qualifier for the Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I National Championship a year ago, will play host to Carver College of Atlanta at 7 p.m. in XULA's Convocation Center.
Alfred Williams, a Gold Rush standout player from 2004-08 and a XULA assistant coach from 2009-15, will begin his first season as head coach. Carver, a member of the National Christian College Athletic Association, opened its season in the Crescent City Monday with a 74-60 loss at Loyola.
New to the Gold Rush this season include:
• Donovan Armstrong, a 5-foot-9 guard from Round Rock, Texas, and Round Rock High School. He's a business sales and marketing major at Xavier.
• Jalen David, a 6-4 guard/forward from Mount Vernon, N.Y., and Mount Vernon High School and Moberly Area (Mo.) Community College. His major is business management.
• Jerry Gibson, a 6-5 forward from Alexandria, La., and Alexandria Senior High School. He is a biology/pre-medical major.
• Monte Lambert, a 6-3 guard from the Bronx, N.Y., and James Madison High School. He's majoring in business management.
• Khalil McCoy, a 6-2 guard from Suwanee, Ga., and Newman High School. He is a chemistry/pre-pharmacy major.
• Hakeem Simon, a 6-10 center from St. Patrick, Grenada, St. Mark's Secondary School and Seminole State (Okla.) College. His major is business management.
• Mike Williams, a 6-3 guard from Houston and Fort Bend Travis High School. He's a computer engineering major.
Another XULA newcomer is Evan Howard, a 6-8 forward/center from Biloxi, Miss., whose signing was announced in February.
Armstrong was first-team all-district in basketball and football. As a senior he averaged 15.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.6 steals per game. The website texasbasketballreview.com said of Armstrong, "Quick and strong, good ballhandler, hits the 15-footer or floaters." In football Armstrong intercepted five passes his final season and scored on an 87-yard punt return.
David averaged 7.2 points, reached double figures 17 times and made 32 3-pointers for a Moberly team that reached the final 16 of the NJCAA Division I national tournament. As a prep senior he averaged 14 points and seven rebounds for a 29-4 team and had 19 points, 14 rebounds and nine steals in one game.
Gibson led ASH in rebounding his senior year and was second-team all-district. He was an four-year honor-roll student, and he amassed 250 hours of community service.
Lambert was a conference scoring leader his senior year at James Madison, scored a school-record 44 points in one game and reached 30 points five other times. Between James Madison and XULA, he spent a year at Trinity Pawling, a New York prep school where he was a starter. The website HoopGroup.com said of Lambert, "Skilled guard that can score in transition. He is crafty with his finishes and rebounds well for his size."
McCoy was all-region and was chosen Coweta County Player of the Year by the Newnan Herald newspaper his senior year. Three times he reached 30 points, with a high of 32 his final season. Academically, he was in the top five percent of his graduating class.
Simon — the tallest Gold Rush player since 6-10 Ronald Allen in 2004-05 — averaged 2.2 points and 2.3 rebounds for Seminole State and had career highs of 11 points and 12 rebounds in the same game. He shot 51.5 percent from the floor the past two seasons; he spent his first collegiate year at another two-year school, Western Oklahoma State.
Williams was second team District 23-6A as a senior, and his game highs included 36 points and 14 assists. He started in football (wide receiver and running back) as a senior, and he logged service hours through All Saints Anglican Church.
David and Simon will have two years of eligibility apiece at Xavier; the others will have four seasons apiece.
Returning XULA players are Seth Jackson at guard, Leland Alexander and Lucas Martin-Julien at guard/forward and Wesley Pluviose-Philip at forward. Also back is guard Innocent Kukulu, who redshirted as a freshman in 2015-16.
2016-17 Men's Basketball Roster
|No.||Name||Pos.||Ht.||Wt.||Yr.||Exp.||Hometown||High School||Previous School|
|2||Seth Jackson||G||176||Sr.||1L||Baton Rouge, La.||Redemptorist||Baton Rouge CC|
|3||Leland Alexander||G||180||So.||1L||Houma, La.||Ellender|
|4||Khalil McCoy||G||180||Fr.||HS||Suwanee, Ga.||Newnan|
|10||Wesley Pluviose-Philip||F||230||Sr.||3L||Albany, N.Y.||Albany|
|11||Lucas Martin-Julien||G||187||Jr.||2L||Reserve, La.||Riverside Academy|
|12||Jalen David||G/F||208||Jr.||JC||Mount Vernon, N.Y.||Mount Vernon||Moberly Area CC|
|13||Monte Lambert||G||200||Fr.||HS||Bronx, N.Y.||James Madison|
|14||Evan Howard||F/C||235||Fr.||HS||Biloxi, Miss.||D'Iberville|
|21||Innocent Kukulu||G||180||Fr.||RS||Staten Island, N.Y.||Curtis|
|23||Mike Williams||G||190||Fr.||HS||Houston, Texas||Fort Bend Travis|
|25||Donovan Armstrong||G||172||Fr.||HS||Round Rock, Texas||Round Rock|
|30||Hakeem Simon||C||240||Jr.||JC||St. Patrick, Grenada||St. Mark's||Seminole State (Okla.) JC|
|33||Jerry Gibson||F||221||Fr.||HS||Alexandria, La.||Alexandria Senior|
|Alfred Williams||Men's Basketball Head Coach|
|Tyrone Mitchell||Men's Basketball Assistant Coach|
|Ryan DeRousselle||Men's Basketball Assistant Coach|
|Devin Andrew||Men's Basketball Assistant Coach|