NEW ORLEANS – The University of New Orleans men’s basketball team added its final member for the 2017-18 season as guard Ezekiel Charles of Barton Community College inked a National Letter of Intent to play for the Privateers, UNO head coach Mark Slessinger announced Wednesday morning.
A 6-4, 205-pound native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Charles joins the Privateer program after two standout junior-college seasons where he helped lead the Cougars to a 43-21 overall record, a 29-16 mark in Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference action and two trips to the NJCAA Region VI Tournament. As a junior in 2016-17, Charles and BCC posted a 25-8 overall showing, a KJCCC runner-up finish with a 19-7 record and a region semifinal appearance.
“We are very excited to complete our recruiting class with Ezekiel Charles,” Slessinger said. “He is a student-athlete that we have recruited extensively and have a good feel for him and the skill set that he will bring to our program. Ezekiel will bring a great ability to shoot the basketball, score in different ways and be a dynamic defender. We feel that he will be a great addition to our program and cap off a tremendous recruiting class.”
Charles played in 58 college contests to date with 52 starts, posting 715 points (12.3 ppg), 347 rebounds (6.0 rpg), 122 assists (2.1 apg), 70 steals (1.2 spg) and 25 blocked shots (0.4 bpg). He scored in double figures 37 tiems with seven games of 20-plus points, including a career-best 30 vs McPherson on Nov. 2, 2016.
Along the way, Charles tallied three point/rebound double-doubles, tallied seven-plus rebounds 22 times, handed out four or more assists on nine occasions, posted three-plus steals in eight contests and logged five multiple-block outings. He had career-high marks of 13 rebounds vs Brown Mackie on Nov. 28, 2015, eight assists vs Highlands on Nov. 4, 2016, six steals vs Garden City on Nov. 16, 2016, and three blocks vs both Cowley County on Dec. 12, 2015, and Cloud County on Feb. 16, 2016.
Charles was named first-team All-KJCCC and second-team all-region as a sophomore after leading the team in with a 37.2 3-point percentage while ranking second with 13.6 points per game and 38 steals, tied for second with 42 3-pointers, third with 367 points scored, 79 free throws made, 6.0 rebounds per game, 57 assists and 13 blocks. In addition, he finished fourth on the squad with 123 field goals made, 161 rebounds, a 47.5 field goal percentage and a 71.8 free throw percentage.
As a freshman, Charles led Barton with 42 3-pointers and a 36.2 3-point percentage (.362) while sitting tied for first with 121 field goals made, second with 348 points scored, 11.2 points per game 65 and assists, third with 186 rebounds, 6.0 rebounds per game, 32 steals, 12 blocked shots and a 68.8 free throw percentage (.688), fourth with 64 free throws made and fifth with a 42.8 field goal percentage. A standout in the classroom as well, Charles is a two-time member of the Dean’s List and was named Most Outstanding Student at Barton Community College.
Prior to the start of his collegiate career, Charles was a two-year letterman at Lincoln High for coaches Dwayne Morton and Kenneth Pretlow where he helped the Railsplitters to a combined 47-7 overall record, a pair of PSAL Brooklyn AA title and with a 28-1 league mark and trips to the state playoffs both seasons.
As a senior, he was named to the second-team Daily News All-Brooklyn Team after averaging 12.3 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. He also played for Born Ready Elite on the AAU circuit and was selected to play in the 2014 New York Top 100.
“Ezekiel prepped at one of the most historic high school programs in New York City in Lincoln High School and was lucky to play at Barton Community College,” Slessinger said. “While at Barton, he was coached by Craig Fletchall, who has always done a great job preparing his student-athletes for the transition to the NCAA Division I level.”
UNO team coming off a 2016-17 season that saw the Privateers finish 20-12 overall, win the Southland Conference regular-season title with a 13-5 league record, claimed the 2017 SLC Tournament title with a 68-65 overtime victory against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and advanced to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship.
Charles is the eighth student-athlete to join the Privateers for the 2017-18 season and the third to do so during the Spring Signing Period as former East St. John High standout Troy Green and North Platte Community College star Diontae Champion inked their NLIs in mid-April.
Also joining the team next season are Lamont Berzat (New Orleans, La./Landry-Walker HS), Tyren Harrison (St. Albans, N.Y./Western Oklahoma State College), Bol Riek (Bentiu, South Sudan/Mooseheart [Ill.] School) and Damion Rosser (McDonough, Ga./Henry County HS) – who became official during the NCAA Early Signing Period in November – and Scott Plaisance (New Orleans, La./UL-Lafayette), who transferred in following the fall semester.
“I can’t say enough about the job our staff has done in working tirelessly to help get the best student-athletes to UNO to help keep us at a championship level and move us forward,” Slessinger added. “Their dedication and work rate is second to none.”