The previous staff didn’t leave the cupboard bare, in fact, there is a nice baseline of talent that new Head Coach Takayo Siddle is walking in to. For starters, they will only lose one player to graduation, graduate transfer Carter Skaggs who only played in seven games last season. This means they will return six players who averaged over 20 minutes per game while playing in more than 15 games and nine players who started at least three games last year. They will also return all five players who averaged over 9 points per game from last season.
All that to say, Siddle came into a situation with some experienced talent on deck. What the former staff did a good job of was recruiting the state of North Carolina, eight players on last year’s roster all played their high school ball in North Carolina. Four of the five players who return averaging over nine points per game also come from North Carolina.
Leading scorer, and Charlotte native, Jaylen Sims is a 6’6” wing who averaged 12 points, 5 boards and 1.2 assists per game during his sophomore season. 6’1” guard and second-leading scorer, also a Charlotte native, Ty Gadsden averaged 10.6 points in his 17 games played. He knocked down 1.7 threes per game while adding 2 assists and 1.5 steals per game during his junior season. 6’4” junior Mike Okauru, a Florida transfer and Raleigh native, averaged 9.2 points, 5.6 boards and 2.7 assists with 1.4 steals per game during his junior season. Freshman Shykeim Phillips stepped up big once starting PG Kai Towes transferred out midseason. Phillips, a Winterville native, started 24 games while averaging 9.5 points with 2.3 assists and 1.6 steals.
So with the groundwork laid for what Coach Siddle is walking into, why is Jajuan Carr such a splash commitment?
First off, Carr is a high-level guard that Siddle had to beat out other schools for, schools that could be thought of for a higher level like St Bonaventure in the A10 and East Carolina in the American Athletic. Takayo Siddle came into this position with a reputation as a high-level recruiter, especially in the state. This immediate grab plays right into this. He knew Carr from his time at NC State, so there was a familiarity. Carr was Siddle’s first offer after getting the job and within the week, Carr was in tow, casting aside the bigger names and staying home.
Secondly, Carr is a local player. The District Player of the Year by the North Carolina Basketball Coaches Association. This is a great move for attendance, getting the local community involved. Being a school without football, getting the local support behind the program is huge. Keeping the best players in North Carolina is big, but also keeping the local players home is important. Burgaw, North Carolina is a basketball-crazed community and their native son was the first offer and subsequently the first commitment for Coach Siddle. A+ on the PR side.
Thirdly, Carr is a Top 15 player in North Carolina’s 2020 class. He had those offers for a reason, a true paint touchpoint guard who delivers pinpoint pocket passes after making great reads. We all know that championships are won with guard play, and Carr is one of the best pure point guards in this region. Carr averaged 21 Points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 steals per game, leading Pender High School to a 20-8 season, the school’s first 20 win season since the 2010-11 season.