2019/20 Season Preview – North Conference

Carol Moir

The EABL season is set to kick off next week, and with plenty of new recruits across the leagues plus players who have departed to continue their basketball journey elsewhere, we take a team by team look at the EABL North Conference ahead of the 2019/20 season.

Charnwood College

After staging a mind-blowing comeback to take last season’s EABL title to cap an undefeated season, Charnwood will be looking to make it back to back successes in 2019/20.

North Conference MVP Niall Harris has now departed the programme, as has Hosana Kitenge, an All-Conference 1st team selection from a year ago. The Midland’s side have retained 2018/19 1st team selection and Deng Camp regular Blaize Sagna, who averaged 14.7ppg and 3.9apg last term whilst recruiting 6’11” centre Giovanni Emejuru, who is sure to provide match up issues for the rest of the North Conference.

“I’m really excited about this group, we have a good balance of returning guys and first year guys coming in,” said Head Coach Will Maynard. “We have a good base to work with, there’s a lot of work but I think we have some really good potential.”

Derby Trailblazers Academy

After a first round exit in the playoffs a year ago, Derby will once again be hoping to make the post season before setting their sights on a longer run in 2019/20.

Under the guidance of the experienced Matt Shaw, the 2017/18 North Conference Coach of the Year led his side to a 9-5 record last year and an impressive 3rd place in the standings. The award was Shaw’s 3rd in recent years, after previously receiving awards in 2015/16 and 2016/17.

Shaw managed to get great performances from players like Blake Bowman (16.1ppg, 8.3rpg) and Luke Ptak (16.0ppg, 5.4rpg) a year ago, and both he and the Derby staff will be looking to do the same across their roster this year.

James Watt College

James Watt will go into 2019/20 boosted by the return of Deng Top 50 selections Wakeem Richardson and Ian Rodriguez, with both players making a splash in the EABL last year. Richardson in particular was a standout, getting the nod as the North Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Both Richardson and Rodriguez also made the Conference’s All 2nd team, as did Daniel Penkov, though the talented shooter has now left the programme.  6’8” centre David Mosengo and versatile guard Shekoni Faure-Lewis are the notable additions to JWC’s roster.

“As always, I am excited to be involved in such a great programme here in Birmingham and it’s a fantastic league to be playing in against the top players in the country,” said Richardson. “Our conference has tough competition but as coach mentioned, we are looking to build off last year’s performance whilst being consistent in our studies.”

Manchester Magic Academy

After narrowly missing out on the post season a year ago following a 5th place finish in the standings, Manchester Magic Academy will be hoping to put that disappointment behind them as they try to build a more productive campaign in 2019/20.

After retaining the majority of their core players, including the likes of Saul May, Malachi Boakye-Yiadom, Luke Gordos and Josh Grant, Manchester have also added four new players for the upcoming year, with Noah Togo and Daniel Tejada amongst the quartet.

“We have managed to keep our core group together from last year which always helps as the players have experience of competing at this level,” said Peter Paraskeva, Magic’s Head Coach.

Myerscough College

Beaten finalists in both 2015/16 and 2017/18. Myerscough will be hoping that 2019/20 is their year and have plenty of reasons to be optimistic based on their current squad.

Despite losing the hugely talented Mate Okros and Callan Low (both 2018 Deng top 20 selections), who have both now graduated from the programme, Myerscough can still call on the likes of Amari Williams, who helped GB’s U18s to an 8th place finish in Division A this summer, 2019 Deng top 20 talents in Bradley Kaboza and Sanmi Fajana plus 2018 Jnr. NBL U18 Playoff Final MVP Lewis McGlasson.

After setting the Jnr. NBL alight last year with a series of high profile performances, forward Franklin Agu will make his EABL debut in the North West in 2018/19, with plenty of eyes watching to see how the big man continues his development at the next level. He was ranked 5th in the recent Deng Camp list for 2019.

“We’re excited for the new EABL season, the squad we have together has a great amount of potential and I can’t wait to shape them,” said Myerscough Head Coach Neal Hopkins.

Newcastle Eagles Academy

After making their EABL debut last season with a respectable 6th place finish, Newcastle Eagles Academy will move into their 2nd term looking to make a greater impact on the North Conference.

In order to do that, Newcastle will need to overcome the loss of two key players.  2017/18 Most Improved Player Jeremy Lievin, who received Conference honours a year ago after recording an impressive stat line of 9.9ppg, 10.0rpg and 1.4spg, has now left to join Oaklands. Also, highly rated GB standout Tosan Evbuomwan has departed for NCAA D1 outfit Princeton, he will be a big loss to the programme.

It remains to be seen what Newcastle will be able to do to address the losses to their roster.

SGS College

Led by 2nd year guard and captain Louis Weaver, SGS head into the new season looking for improvements. Despite losing Sam Chigbo, Ethan Malschuk and Henry Ogilvie from their 2018/19 squad, Weaver, Marvin Dinnall and Thomas Browne all return for Coach Bourne.

Add to that new additions in Nassim Ladjimi, Arnold Larkin and Finlay Woodward and SGS will be hoping to make more of impact in the North Conference after finishing bottom of the standings last term.

“The players are all excited for the season ahead and the opportunity to go up against some of the best talent in the country,” said Coach Chris Bourne. “We have a hungry group that are working hard to get better every day and can’t wait to show what they can do.”

The Sheffield College

Head Coach Bradley Connor has the luxury of retaining the entirety of his 2018/19 roster as Sheffield College will be hoping that continuity helps them make a push for some better results this time around.

With three returning third years, Thomas Morey is a feel good story after missing both of the previous 2 season with knee injuries.

“We have our entire roster returning for the 2020 season, meaning a stronger bench and higher expectations.” Said Head Coach Connor. “We also have new additions providing us with much more height, which should help us to match up better with some of the tops teams this season. We look forward to the challenges ahead.”

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