NCAA Division: Division I
Conference: Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference
Past Conferences: Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association
City: Durham, North Carolina.
Arena: McDougald-McLendon Arena
NCAA Tournaments: 4 (2014, 2017, 2018, 2019)
National Championships – 0
Conference Titles – 4 (2014, 2015, 2017, 2020)
The road to becoming a Division I basketball team hasn’t been an easy one for North Carolina Central. It took several attempts and many years for the Eagles to get there, but it’s hard to say that it wasn’t worth the wait. The university shows its first season was in 1927-28 but the school probably wishes it had waited a few more years. North Carolina Central went 0-6 its first season, then sat out a year, only to come back and go 0-2 in 1929-30. That was enough for a while, as there was no team between 1930 and 1935. The team promptly went 0-11 in the 1935-36 season.
The team’s fortunes started to take a turn for the better in 1937-38 when William Burghardt was brought in as coach. After going 9-9 his first year, North Carolina Central went 16-8 and 22-4 his next two years. He was replaced by John McLendon for the 1940-41 season and the team went 239-68 in his 12 seasons, winning the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association conference tournament in 1946 and 1950.
NCC made its first appearance in the NCAA Division II Tournament in 1957 under coach Floyd Brown, but the team’s successful run came to an end several years later. The Eagles made the move to Division I for the 1971-72 season but dropped back down to Division II after the 1979-80 season. NCC became a Division II powerhouse, reaching the Division II Tournament in 1988, 1989, 1990, 1993, 1996 and 1997, winning the championship in 1989.
The Eagles gave Division I another try in 2007-08 and, after four years as an independent, became full members of the MEAC in 2011-12. In 2013-14 North Carolina Central won its first MEAC conference tournament, earning its first berth in the Division I NCAA Tournament. The Eagles won the conference tournament and the accompanying trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2017-2019. NCC also competed in the NIT in 2015.
North Carolina Central Eagles All-Time Records
Ted Manning, 2,086
Sam Jones, 1,745
LeVelle Moton, 1,714
Carlton Bell, 1,745
David Binion, 1,123
Ted Manning, 1,118
Emanuel Chapman, 617
Jordan Perkins, 528
Michael Wright, 409
How Many North Carolina Central Eagles Are in the Hall of Fame?
Sam Jones was enshrined as a player in 1984 after a solid career with the Boston Celtics, while coach John McLendon was enshrined as a contributor in 1979. McLendon’s college advisor at Kansas was Dr. James Naismith. He led Tennessee State to three straight NAIA championships in 1957-59, becoming the first coach to win three straight national titles at any level.
Why Is North Carolina Central Called the Eagles?
The name came from the founder of the school, Dr. James Shepard, who was president between 1910 and 1947. At the start of each school year, he would give a talk to students and explain the meaning of the Eagle nickname. “ “The Eagle is no common, ordinary barnyard fowl,” Dr. Shepard explained. “And while a Sparrow clings to its flock, an Eagle soars alone.”
How Many North Carolina Central Players Have Played in the NBA?
While the Eagles have had seven players ( Sam Jones, Ted Manning, Lee David, Joe Pridgen, Donald Sinclair, David Binion, and David Young) drafted by NBA teams, only Jones and Stanton Kidd played in the NBA. Unlike Jones, who had a stellar 12-year career, Kidd played in just four games in the 2019-20 season and didn’t score a point.