Demons near new basketball coach as roster empties

OUTBOUND:  DeMarcus Sharp, recently named Southland Conference Player of the Year in his first and only season at Northwestern State, is among seven Demons who entered the transfer portal Monday. (Photo by CHRIS REICH, Northwestern State)

By DOUG IRELAND, Journal Sports

Northwestern State is moving toward announcing its new men’s basketball coach today or Wednesday, and he will apparently inherit little of the production from the Demons’ 22-win season under departed coach Corey Gipson.

Monday, all five players who started at the end of the regular season and in the Southland Conference Tournament championship game entered the NCAA’s transfer portal, along with at least two key reserves. While entering the portal does not require a player to leave, it indicates a strong interest in transferring.

Heading the list: Southland Conference Player of the Year DeMarcus Sharp, second-team all-conference pick Ja’Monta Black, and standout defender Isaac Haney – all who followed Gipson, a longtime assistant at Missouri State, to NSU last spring.

Also entering the portal from the starting lineup two weeks ago was the team’s leading rebounder, freshman forward Jalen Hampton, and freshman Hansel Enmanuel, whose exploits playing despite having only one arm have built a global social media audience over 4.2 million.

Key inside reserves Dayne Prim and Jordan Wilmore also went into the portal on Monday. Combined, the seven players apparently leaving Northwestern averaged 64.2 of the team’s 74.6 points per game and 25.3 of the Demons’ 33.8 rebounding average. The team’s top four scorers, the only ones averaging in double figures, are outbound as of Monday.

Gipson relied on transfers and recruits to build the roster for his first and only season at Northwestern. After posting a 22-11 record (13-5, good for second, in the Southland), Gipson was hired last weekend as head coach at his alma mater, Austin Peay, and reportedly is bringing his entire NSU coaching staff along – notably associate head coach Rodney Hamilton, reported to have been a candidate to replace Gipson.

Sources said anticipating Gipson’s exit, NSU president Dr. Marcus Jones and athletics director Kevin Bostian engaged a search consultant to identify coaching candidates, likely the same one — Kyle Bowlsby – who last year identified Gipson and Bostian as hires at Northwestern.

The announcement of a new coach could come as early as today, barring late developments, sources said.

After averaging 19.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.9 steals for the Demons, Sharp told ESPN college basketball writer Jeff Borzello that he has interest from Arkansas, Tennessee, Florida, Missouri, Mississippi State, Loyola of Chicago, Central Florida and St. Louis, along with Austin Peay, in the hours since entering the portal.

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