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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Coppin State senior Taariq Cephas named to preseason All-MEAC basketball first team

Cephas named to preseason MEAC first team and Coppin State picked to finish sixth


BALTIMORE – Coppin State senior guard Taariq Cephas (Bear, Del./Pencader Charter) was named to the preseason Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) men’s basketball first team Thursday afternoon.

As a team, the Eagles were picked to finish sixth in the preseason poll voted on by the conference’s head men’s basketball coaches and sports information directors. Coppin State did receive one first place vote.

The Coppin State men’s basketball program enters a new era when the 2014-15 season commences in November against the University of Oregon under first-year coach Michael Grant, who comes to the Eagles from Division II Stillman College. Coppin State, which won 12 games last season and advanced to the MEAC semifinals, has 11 players returning.

A criminal justice major and sports management minor, Cephas is one of five seniors returning for the Eagles. He has enjoyed a decorated career and now is among the MEAC’s elite. Joining Cephas on the Preseason All-MEAC First Team are Deron Powers (Hampton), James Daniel (Howard), Jordan Parks (N.C. Central), and Kendall Gray (Delaware State). Daniel was the preseason conference Player of the Year selection.

“I was really excited and surprised,” Cephas said when he learned the news. “It’s an honor to be selected to the preseason first team. Now, I am going to try my hardest to live up to it by working hard, helping my team and being a leader.” 

This is the second preseason honor for Cephas, a 5 foot, 11 inch guard. He was named to the College Sports Madness preseason MEAC second team.

Cephas played in 32 games and made 27 starts. He led Coppin State in assists with 131 and was third in the MEAC in assists per game (4.1). Cephas also finished fifth in the MEAC in assist to turnover ratio (1.5). In addition to the assists, Cephas averaged 9.4 points per game and grabbed 3.0 rebounds per game. He led the team in scoring five times. Cephas was one of Coppin State’s top foul shooters last season as he shot 79.4 percent (85-for-107).

Among some of Cephas’ highlights last season was notching his first career double-double against Delaware State (12 points, career-high 10 assists). He scored in double figures 15 times and scored 20 or more points twice. Cephas’ shining moment occurred under the bright lights of the MEAC postseason tournament. He scored a season-high 24 points off the bench to spark an 83-77 victory over Hampton in the MEAC quarterfinals. In that game, Cephas was 5-of-8 from the field and 4-of-4 from 3-point distance.

North Carolina Central received 15 first-place votes and totaled 317 points to take hold of the conference’s top spot. The Eagles finished 15-1 in conference play and 28-6 overall last year. Hampton was predicted to finish second with 304 total points. The Pirates was last year’s regular season runners-up and finished with a conference mark of 13-3 and an overall record of 18-13. 

Morgan State was selected to finish third, while Norfolk State received the fourth place spot.  Delaware State was selected to finish fifth. Coppin State was predicted to finish ahead of Savannah State (seventh), Howard (eighth), North Carolina A&T (ninth), Bethune-Cookman (10th), South Carolina State (11th), Maryland Eastern Shore (12th), and Florida A&M (13th) round out the 2014-15 preseason poll.

“The preseason polls are nice and they get everybody looking forward to the season,” Cephas said. “We are motivated to accomplish our goals and they don’t include finishing where we were picked. We are excited to begin our season.”

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