HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. – Over the past decade or so, Hofstra has always had a stud guard to lead the way – and someone waiting in the wings to replace him. Speedy Claxton gave way to Norman Richardson, who passed the baton to Rick Apodaca, with Loren Stokes and Antoine Agudio following him.
The latest was Charles Jenkins, a two-time CAA Player of the Year who was drafted by the Golden State Warriors in June. On the surface, it seems like the star guard lineage could be coming to a halt.
“We have a saying at Hofstra, ‘In Guards We Trust,’” senior Mike Moore said on Wednesday at Hofstra’s Media Day. “I think one of us will carry on that legacy.”
Although he’s not Jenkins, Moore could be the best candidate to step in and replace Jenkins' 22.9 points and 4.8 assists per game. Moore is the second-leading returning scorer in the conference, posting 14.9 points. He scored at least 20 points on six separate occasions, including a 28-point outing against Binghamton.
The former Fordham transfer could be ready to take that next step.
“That’s what you’d like to see,” head coach Mo Cassara said. “He’s going to be featured a bit more. He’s got to become more consistent, but he’s a scorer by nature.”
When asked who will take the big shots when the shot clock or game clock are winding down, Moore was confident in his response. “I think it’s going to be me,” he said. “I can carry that load.”
Fortunately for Cassara and the Pride, Moore won’t be alone on the perimeter. Rhode Island transfer Stevie Mejia sat out last season and will likely be slotted into the lineup at point guard. He registered nearly a 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio during his sophomore year in the Atlantic-10 and will be able to replace some of the playmaking ability of Jenkins.
Mejia is not a big-time scorer, but his defensive aggressiveness and ability to facilitate offense will be an asset.
“He’s a dynamic floor leader and he’s been successful everywhere he’s been,” Cassara said. “He’s a personality in the locker room, and he’s a guy who will have the ball in his hands.”
|Season tips Nov. 7|
Additional help will come in the form of Nathaniel Lester, who sat out last season with a torn quad muscle. Two seasons ago, the 6-foot-5 Brooklyn native started 22 games and averaged 8.0 points. Fully healthy, Lester expects to be one of the key replacements for Jenkins.
“We can handle that,” Lester said of replacing Jenkins. “When the season ended, me and Mike [Moore] looked at each other – we know what we have to do.”
Cassara and his players don’t want to underplay the loss of Jenkins; after all, he was one of the best players in Hofstra history and one of the best guards in the country over the last two seasons. However, there was a tendency at times last year to stand around and wait for Jenkins to make a play.
This season, it will be different.
“Last year when he had the ball, it was like we didn’t have to worry about it,” junior David Imes said. “There’s no more watching.”
With the arrival of several impact newcomers, as well as Lester and Mejia completing their redshirt years, the team is optimistic that they will be able to replace Jenkins and make a move in the CAA standings.
“Teams win games, not individual players,” Mejia said. “I think we can do a lot better than last year.”
Photo: Hofstra Athletic Communications (Mike Moore)