The start of the season is on hold until January, but preseason accolades are rolling in for the West Virginia State University men’s basketball team.
WVSU’s Anthony Pittman, a former Capital High School standout, and Glen Abram were named Thursday to the Black College Sports Network’s HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) NCAA Division II preseason first team.
A third Yellow Jacket, Jeremiah Moore, was named to the second team.
WVSU coach Bryan Poore said the recognition comes at a good time for the Yellow Jackets.
“It’s really nice, good for the guys, good for the team, they needed a positive, uplifting note,” said Poore, who enters his 22nd season at State’s head coach. “They’re all leery, there’s so much uncertainty to the season, and with this coming out it gives us the feeling that we’re really gonna play.”
That wasn’t a sure thing as the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the nation. As a precaution, the Mountain East Conference pushed back the start of its schedule to the first week in January. MEC teams will not be playing non-conference games, so the regular season will consist of just 16 games.
When the Yellow Jackets do get to start playing games, they’ll be led by the three players honored Thursday.
Pittman, a 6-foot-5 sophomore forward, led WVSU in rebounding during the 2019-20 season with 7.9 boards per game and had team-highs of 56 steals and 42 blocked shots. Pittman, a Class AAA first-team All-State selection at Capital, averaged 15.1 points, third-best on the team.
Pittman, the only non-senior on the BCSN Division II first team, had season-highs of 30 points (vs. Notre Dame College) and 17 rebounds (vs. Frostburg State) on his way to earning second-team All-Mountain East Conference honors as a freshman.
Abram, a 6-2 senior guard from Chicago, was a first-team All-MEC selection after leading the Yellow Jackets with 18.9 points per game in 2019-20, including a team-best 79 3-pointers. Abram scored a season-high 40 points in WVSU’s 96-93 win over West Liberty on Feb. 5.
Moore, a 6-6 senior forward from West Orange, New Jersey, is coming off a season in which he averaged 15.5 points and 7.6 rebounds while shooting 56.7% from the floor on his way to All-MEC honorable mention.
The preseason honors serve to elevate WVSU’s expectations, which is fine with Poore.
“We knew going into the year with all these guys returning that it could be a really good year for our team,” Poore said. “Nobody’s gonna put more expectations on us than we are. I like where we’re at.”
WVSU wasn’t the only team with two players on the BCSN first team.
Miles College, an HBCU school in Fairfield, Alabama, placed Avery Brown and Jelani Watson-Gayle on the Division II preseason squad. Daequan Williams, from Lincoln (Pa.) University, was also named to the first team.