As the ODAC Basketball Championships get closer, many local Roanoke College athletes are taking advantage of their being able to play college basketball close to home.Â RC men’s basketball team currently has five players who are from the Roanoke Valley/Timesland area, while the RC women’s team has three.Â All of these athletes will showcase their talents in front of friends and family at the Salem Civic Center for the ODAC tournament starting Feb. 22.
RC’s head basketball coaches Page Moir and Susan Dunagan have both been known to recruit players from the Roanoke area for the Maroons. Moir currently has two athletes from Hidden Valley High School on his roster, as well as one from Cave Spring, James River, and Salem. Â Dunagan has athletes from William Byrd, Lord Botetourt, and Glenvar.
Both coaches are the most winning coaches in ODAC history in their respective sport, and both have been coaching at the school for more than 20 years.Â Having such a good name in the area makes recruiting local talent that much easier.Â Many of the players have been around the programs for years, even before middle school ball.
“I came to the basketball camps as a little kid, and knew Coach Moir for a while before coming here,” said Ethan Humphries ’14.Â Humphries was a stand-out at James River after leading the Knights to a 2010 State Championship and being named state player of the year in division single A. But even with those accomplishments, he said coming to RC was always his plan.
“I wanted to stay close to my friends and family,” Humphries said. “My family has gone to every game so far. Â They have always gone to the games so I don’t really know what it would be like to not have them there. Â I’m glad I’m close enough that they can still come.”
It doesn’t hurt that RC is known to be one of the best schools in the state, which is another draw for local athletes.
“Roanoke is just a really good school and has a great reputation in the area.Â Plus the Roanoke area in general is just a great area.Â I really didn’t see a need to go anywhere else when everything I need is right here,” said Clay Lacy ’14.Â Lacy was a two-time state champion at Cave Spring High School and was named Player of the Game in the championship in 2010.
For senior guard Melvin Felix, RC may not technically be “home,” but to him it really feels like it.Â Felix was an exchange student from Puerto Rico when he came to Salem High School as a sophomore.Â He loved the area so much he decided to stay for seven years.
“The people are so nice, that is why I stayed,” Felix said.Â “It’s almost like the people here want everyone to like the area and you can tell just how much everyone loves being here.Â It’s not like that at home.”
Felix will finish his basketball career at RC this year as a member of the 1,000 point club.Â Â He has led the team in scoring the past two seasons.
Dunagan has deep local talent as well, including former Tennessee Volunteer and Lord Botetourt stand-out, Nicci Moats â€˜11.Â Moats leads the Maroons in points and rebounds and recently set the ODAC record for blocked shots in a season.
Moat’s teammate, Rebecca Bays â€˜11, was also a local star at William Byrd.Â Bays transferred to RC from Marshall University.Â She has already put herself into the top-10 on RC’s career assist list.
Both the men and women will showcase their talent to local fans in the upcoming ODAC tournament. The women are the third seed in the ODAC and will play Virginia Wesleyan at home Thursday.Â They are 17-7 in the season and have already beaten the Marlins twice this season.
The men’s team has had a tougher road. With an 11-14 record and a seven seed in the tournament, they took on Bridgewater at home Tue.Â It was not easy, but they were able to pull out a win, 72-69.Â With the win, they will move on to play at the Salem Civic Center, less than a mile away from RC’s campus.Â The Maroons are looking forward to the virtual home game.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to knock some teams off and get some wins when it counts,” Lacy said.
“I’m looking forward to this being my last tournament,” Felix said.Â “Hope we can make something happen.”