Spartans Highlights

General Information

NCAA Division: Division I
Conference: Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference
Past Conferences: Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association
City: Norfolk, Virginia
Arena: Joseph G. Echols Memorial Hall
NCAA Tournaments: 3 (2012, 2021, 2022)


National Championships: None
Conference Titles: 4 (2013, 2019, 2021, 2022)

Team History

Norfolk State’s basketball team began play in the 1953-54 season under coach John Turpin. After going 11-12 in its first year, Norfolk State ran off seven straight winning seasons before it was 9-11 in the 1961-62 season. The Spartans joined the CIAA for the 1962-63 season and brought in Ernie Fears to coach. The school quickly resumed its winning ways, advancing to its first NCAA Division II Tournament in 1965. The Spartans would return in 1968 and 1969 under Fears.

The Spartans advanced back to the Division II Tournament in 1971 and 1974 under a pair of different coaches. Norfolk State switched to the NAIA for the 1974-75 season and made the NAIA National Tournament four times but switched back to Division II and advanced to the Division II Tournament seven consecutive seasons between 1984-1990. The Spartans returned to the Division II tournament in 1992, 1994 and their final appearance was in 1995, when Norfolk State reached the Final Four, its best-ever finish.

Norfolk State made the jump to Division I and joined the MEAC for the 1997-98 season and took their lumps at the start, having 10 straight losing seasons. The Spartans broke through to win the MEAC Tournament in 2012, giving Norfolk State its first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament. Norfolk State made the most of it, stunning No. 2 seed Missouri 86-84 before losing to Florida in the next round. The Spartans were postseason regular after that, appearing in the NIT in 2013 and playing in the CIT four straight years between 2014-2017.

The Spartans missed the postseason with a 14-19 in 2017-18 but returned to the NIT in 2019 after going 22-14 during the regular season. After a disappointing 16-15 record in 2019-20 kept Norfolk State at home during tournament time, the Spartans returned to the NCAA Tournament in 2021 and 2022.

All-Time Records

  • Points Scored

    • Ralph Tally, 2,575
    • David Pope, 2,339
    • Eugene Cunningham, 2,151
  • Rebounds

    • Rudy Peele, 1,335
    • Richard Pitts, 1,235
    • Eugene Cunningham, 1,186
  • Assists

    • Billy Walker, 634
    • Jamel Fuentes, 552
    • Barry Mitchell, 502


How Many Norfolk State Players Have Played in the NBA?

The Spartans have had four players advance to the NBA, with Bob Dandridge the most successful. A four-time NBA All-Star, Dandridge played for 13 seasons with Milwaukee and Washington, ending his career with 18.5 points per game average. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in 2021. Ray Epps, Kyle O’Quinn and David Pope are the other players who played in the NBA.

Has Norfolk State Retired Any Player’s Jersey?

The Spartans have retired three jerseys, with the No.12 of Bob Dandridge, the No. 34 of David Pope, and the No. 10 of Kyle O’ Quinn being the three retired numbers.

How Many Norfolk State Players Have Been Drafted by NBA Teams?

While Norfolk State has had just four players make it in the NBA, the school has seen 14 players drafted by NBA squads. Kyle O’Quinn is the only player to be taken as high as the second round, while Charles Bonaparte was the highest a player was taken overall, when he was the 35th player taken in the 1969 draft.

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