GREENSBORO (March 2, 2018) – In one season, North Carolina A&T men’s basketball coach Jay Joyner took the Aggies from the basement of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference to a contender for the MEAC regular-season and tournament titles.
Joyner and the Aggies rags to riches story earned the third-year coach MEAC Coach of the Year honors as voted on by the MEAC head coaches in the league. Joyner will take his team into the 2018 MEAC Men’s Basketball Championship Tournament with an 18-13 record overall and an 11-5 mark in the MEAC. The Aggies are 15 games better than they were last season when they finished the season 3-29. It marks one of the best turnarounds in NCAA Division I history.
In addition to being named coach of the year, Joyner also had four of his players earn postseason honors. Femi Olujobi (6-foot-8, 233, JR, C, Long Island, NY) earned second-team All-MEAC honors after averaging 16.4 points and 7.8 rebounds per game on 53.6 percent shooting. He scored 20 or more points 10 times in 2017-18. Davaris McGowens (6-7, 230, SR, F, Greenville, SC) and Denzel Keyes (6-4, 210, RSR, F, Kinston, NC) earned third-team honors, while Kameron Langley (6-2, 205, FR, PG, Greensboro, NC) made the MEAC all-rookie team.
McGowens missed the Aggies first four games of the season and only averaged 5.3 points and 2.5 rebounds in 11 games before conference play. In conference play, he averaged 14.8 points and 7.8 rebounds on 59 percent shooting.
Keyes is now the proud owner of All-MEAC honors in football and men’s basketball. Keyes is a two-time second-team All-MEAC performer in football, and he is the school’s all-time leader in touchdown receptions. This season, Keyes averaged 12.9 points and 6.1 rebounds on 51.9 percent shooting in 16 conference games. He averaged 9.3 points and 4.9 rebounds on 52.5 percent shooting for the season. The 2017-18 season marks the first time in his career he has played every regular season.
Langley became the Aggies floor leader quickly. He had 10 assists and only one turnover in his collegiate debut versus Greensboro College. He had three games of 10 assists during the season and on 17 occasions this season he had five-plus assists in a game. He leads the MEAC in assist-to-turnover ratio.
“None of this happens this year without a great group of young men who started buying in as soon as the curtain closed on last season,” said Joyner. “They knew they didn’t want to go through something like that ever again. Another big reason for our success this year is my coaching staff. They are a major part of the reason why we turned the corner this year. I also want to thank a loyal administration headed by Chancellor Harold Martin and athletics director Earl Hilton who gave me a second chance to prove myself.”
Joyner took over the Aggies program on an interim basis on Jan. 28, 2016 when his college coach and mentor Cy Alexander retired with nine games remaining in the 2015-16 regular-season. Joyner led the Aggies to a 5-5 record including a 5-3 mark in the MEAC to earn the permanent head coaching position.
Despite the Aggies difficult 2016-17 season, the Aggies closed the regular-season with a win over archrival N.C. Central. It was their only Division I win of the season, but the win propelled the Aggies into the 2017-18 season where they won five games in November for one of the best Novembers in school history. The Aggies started the conference 5-0 and had a chance to win the conference regular season going into their regular-season finale at N.C. Central.
N.C. A&T’s 18 wins are the most regular-season wins the program has compiled since the 1991-92 season.
“I am humbled by this honor. I never set out to be coach of the year, I just wanted to prove I can get the job done,” said Joyner. “I am forever grateful to the players on this team and the coaches on my staff. To go from three wins to 18 wins is a tremendous accomplishment, but by the end of next week I want us to have 22 wins.”
N.C. A&T, the No. 4 seed at the MEAC tournament, opens the tournament against No. 13 Delaware State 6:30 p.m., Monday at Norfolk Scope Arena.