Fresh faces: NWF State men, women reload

Fresh faces: NWF State men, women reload

In Juco basketball, the best players are rentals.

NWF State, which has proven just a layover in the flight to Division I universities, embodies this revolving-door mentality most.

The men's team — fresh off a third straight Panhandle Conference title and Final Four appearance — returns just three players from last year in Andres Feliz, Karim Ezzeddine and Stanley Davis.

The NWF State women's crew returns just Jade Lewis and Ashley Lee.

So when the men travel to Coastal Alabama Wednesday night for a 7 p.m. tipoff and the women host Volunteer State for a 5:30 p.m. tipoff Friday at the Arena, followed directly by the men at 7:30 p.m., the programs will look noticeably different than a year ago.

"That's what this level of basketball is, a lot of change, a lot of turnover," said Steve DeMeo, the head coach for the NWF State men. "It's a matter of who can handle, for lack of better words, the madness and bring together the best team in the state and the country."

Unforeseen, though, is the immense turnover on the coaching staffs.

Gone is longtime NWF State women's head coach Tamela McCorvey and her staff, replaced by a familiar face in head coach Bart Walker and assistant coaches Christian Shelter, Matt Shewmake and Zach Banks.

Meanwhile, DeMeo's three assistants from last year accepted jobs elsewhere. In swoops assistant coaches Brannan Anthony, Adam Sweeney and Rosbie Mutcherson Jr.

"We always have a target on our back and that has a lot to do with our sustained success," DeMeo said.

Strength-wise, the men's schedule is stacked. And that's not just talking about the Panhandle Conference slate.

Awaiting in the non-conference schedule are ninth-ranked Motlow State, 16th-ranked San Jacinto-Central, 21st-ranked Spartanburg Methodist, and on-the-bubble Harcum. Then throw in three conference matchups with 11th-ranked Chipola and 13th-ranked Tallahassee.

"I think it's a very competitive schedule," DeMeo said. "We try to make the schedule the best possible, but for some reason we couldn't schedule some of the elite teams. There's probably seven, eight ranked teams on there. Every game is really competitive. We really don't have any cupcakes."

For the women, no first-half foe is currently ranked in the preseason ranks. But a murderer's row of Panhandle Conference foes awaits.

It starts with reigning national champion Gulf Coast State at No. 1, followed by Chipola at No. 4 and Tallahassee at No. 7.