Lots of Virgin Islanders in NCAA this season

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Yet another college basketball season is upon us, and as usual, I will inform you on the whereabouts of Virgin Islands players. The territory's representation in Division I hoops has dwindled somewhat, but the overall numbers on all levels of play have stayed the same. I was on Facebook and player after player wanted to talk to me about the season and I am going to let you read their thoughts.

In women's hoops, 13 women are suiting up, and I got a great session with St. Thomas' own Victoria Hamilton. Hamilton is a junior at Radford University and feels that it is her team's time to shine.

"We were chosen to finish third in our conference (Big South), but with the talent that we have, we can finish first," she said. "We expect nothing but the best outcome possible. Personally, I would like to be noted in all team selections for the conference, and increase all of my stats drastically."

"I would like to shout out my mom (Delriese Marshall) all my aunts, uncle, cousins and grandfather," she added. "And one of the most significant people in my life besides my mom, coach Derek Heyliger. Without him, I would not be playing Div.-I basketball and chasing my dreams! Love you guys!"

Hamilton is not the only woman at the Division-I level. The best player at the Caribbean Basketball Championships, Natalie Day, is entering her final year at the University of Portland. The 6-foot forward is coming off a junior season in which she put up 16 points and 7 rebounds per game and was selected to the West Coast Conference first team.

The D.C.-Maryland area guard duo of Akeema Richards and Nickia Gibbs should have a big season. Richards should see starting time for the University of Delaware. The 5-foot-9 point guard transferred from West Virginia and waited a whole year before playing another game. Delaware was selected as preseason favorites to win the Colonial Athletic Conference and plays its toughest schedule ever.

Gibbs, a junior guard at St. Francis, Pa., played in 32 of the team's 34 games last season. The 5-foot-8 guard averaged 4 points as a back up and should vie for a starting spot.

One of the best female scorers in the country, Tanecka Carey is vying for a starting position at Southern Mississippi. The 5-foot-9 scoring machine was second in the nation in points per game (24.9) and was named to the NJCAA first team.

The youngest member of this Div.-I cast is Brittney Matthew. The Crucian helped Hightower High School of Missouri City, Texas, to the quarterfinals of the state championships. Matthew was an all-state selection after posting 9.5 points, 5.5 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 2.8 steals per game.

Division-II is where Stacy "Ladybug" Griffith and Tasheema "Hollywood" Lewis are making their marks. Griffith is a senior at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC), and Lewis suits up for Barry University. Griffith spoke to me about the upcoming season and about her family that still resides in the territory.

"My personal expectation is to make the All-East Coast Conference Team, and to maintain a top leading position in some categories, such as rebounding, steals, and blocks," said Griffith. "As far as the team goes we look pretty good, we're expecting to come out as the top team in our conference."

"Of course, I have family shout outs to my aunt Dianne Duinkerk, my grandfather Horatious Popo, and my godmother Vita Samuel. I am really looking forward to my last year. I am ready to go out with a bang!"

Lewis is a junior and was the captain on the V.I. bronze medal team at the CBC championship. The power forward should see significant action this season.

Aesha Peters transferred from UNC-Wilmington to Glenville State University, and will be under the watchful eye of Bunky Harkleroad. Harkleroad is always in the Virgin Islands and took home a gem this summer.

Ky'laine Rogers talked about the upcoming season at Oglethorpe University (Div.-III) and the changes that have taken place.

"This year we have a new coaching staff, and he's pretty cool," said Rogers. "My teammates and I are very excited about the season, and we have the skills and the ability to win our conference this year!"

"Can I shout out my family? Auntie Adelle Callwood and her family, Auntie Erma Todman, Auntie Moody, Auntie Di, and Auntie Julie (Elizabeth Doss aka Officer Doss) and all the rest of my family (there is a lot)."

At the junior college level, I got a text message from Amara Williams.

Williams is on the volleyball team at Kankakee Community College and will start practice for basketball the third week of November. The 6-foot post player should be the focal point of the offense.

In Panola Community College news, Te'Andra Richardson and Lanese Bough are in the thick of it.

"My expectations for the upcoming season at Panola are to work hard, expect everything that comes our way, play ball, always be aggressive and go through the season as a team that never quits," said Bough. "I want to shout out my dad, Donald Bough, mom, Verna Liburd, and my family and friends. I am going to try my best to bring back a championship."

For the guys hooping at the college level, I am going to let them give their opinions on the upcoming season. Some did not get to me in time, so I will big them up. They are seniors Jervan Jackson (Montevallo), and Clint Williams (Tuskegee); and juniors Shoquan Stevens (Lane) and Leroy Williams (Goucher). We also have sophomores Theron Stephen (Charleston Southern), Aaron Byrd (Greater Allegheny), Ryan Mills (Central Lakes); and freshmen Aubrey Daniel (Albany Tech), Quennel Francis (Warner University), and the crown jewel Rakeem Christmas at Syracuse University.

Ivan Aska, 6-8, Senior, Forward at Murray State

"First, I want to say if it wasn't for God and the things He's blessed me with, I wouldn't be here today. Knowing this is my senior year at Murray State, I have my personal goals to be Player of the Year and also first-team all-conference. Work hard in practice every day, make my teammates betters and a be good leader. We, as a team, would like to 3-peat and win the conference tournament. Shout out to the whole Aska family and Rey family. Also my father, Ivan Jr., mother, Shirley Aska, and stepdad, David Pierre. If it wasn't for their guidance I would not have been here."

Craig Williams, 6-9, Senior, forward at Texas Christian University.

"As a Unit, I expect a lot from our team! We have real good chemistry right now and things are starting to come together on the court. Personally, my goal is to get in the starting lineup and stay there! So far, things are looking good and I've been working hard every day in practice. I still have some extra time to shed some pounds, so things are looking good. I never forget where I came from - Virgin Islands all day! Family first, and a special big up to all that believe in me back home."

Aaron Brown, 6-5, sophomore, guard at Temple University

"I am expecting another great season. We have been working hard daily. I believe it will pay off for us."

Elon Howard, 6-8, Senior at SUNY Purchase College

"Well, I'm looking forward to this upcoming season mainly because of how deep we are. I never been on a team this deep before. We are loaded with transfers. We have Jake Stevens, BJ Warrington (from Dowling College) and Greg Avila (Kent State), so it looks promising. Everyone is expecting us to win the Skyline Conference for the 3rd time in a row and make the tournament. I just hope I can help put my team in a position to be successful this year. I also want to say, I miss my aunt Hortense down in St. Thomas and I can't wait to see her."

Charles Morehead, 6-3, Junior Forward at Seton Hill University

"My main objective for this upcoming season is a spot in the conference playoffs. We are working hard and would like an opportunity to earn a ticket to the NCAA Division-II playoffs. We have a great team with a lot of aggressive players who have the passion for winning. We also have young, talented players who are versatile on the court. I will like to give a shout out to my mom Marva O'Neale, dad Hugo Moorehead, Mr. Alvin Burke, Mr. Johnny Clenance, Mr. Cuthbert Victor, Mr. Donald Bough, Mr. Kevin Sheppard and my family and friends who helped me alone the way."

Raydell "Dawgo" Denis, 6-7, freshman, forward at Moberly Area Community College

"I am ready for the season to start. The team looks great and we have the weapons to win the regionals this year and the next. I'm also trying to get in to a Division-I college after my 2 years, so grades are important. I would like to shout out to my whole family, Mr. Dean Heywood, Kevin Sheppard, and Mr. Donald Bough"

Earl "Ezzy" Thompson Jr., 6-3 freshman guard at Shoreline Community College

"I am excited for the upcoming season. We have a lot of talent and I hope we win tons of games. I like to give a shout out to my mother and grandparents!"

Chris M. Fontaine, 6-11, freshman center at Lakeland College (IL)

"Personally and as a team, we share the common goal of winning the regional championship and get the opportunity to compete in nationals at Hutch."

Conroy Hosier, 6-7, senior forward at Bloomfield College

"Personally, my season doesn't start until December 15th or so. I am sitting out the 1st semester since I only have 1 semester of eligibility left. I am aiming to be one of our top 3-point shooters on the team since I was given the green light over the summer. Due to my declining health in both knees, I have to be a different help to my team, since my shot blocking, dunking and rebounding days are leaving me like a speeding bullet. I still plan on leading my team in taking charges and being somewhat of the team's older brother (since majority of my teammates are 5 years younger than me!) As a team, we are aiming to be better than last year, and that's saying a lot since we went to the Elite 8. Our goal will always be to win the Div.-II NCAA Championship!

"Hopefully, I can go out with a bang for my last hoorah, and give my family, school and island something to cheer about. My V.I. shout outs go to my parents, Sylvanita and Conroy Hosier Sr., my brother-from-another-mother Shaka James, my boy Waynie Graham, my favorite aunt and uncleGenevieve Orr and Glenmore Martin and families, the entire SCEC Class of 2003, my neighbors both James and Haynes families, coach Redwine and my Man-League team Legacy, and a final shoutout to my boys in the military Okeffe Jacobs and Skye Williams! Love Ayo"

- David Edole is a V.I. resident and sports enthusiast.

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