Freshman guard Ledrick Eackles impressive in NCAA tournament debut
MILWAUKEE — Oakland freshman guard Ledrick Eackles was a man determined to get the Grizzlies back into Friday’s NCAA tournament first-round contest against Pitt.
In his first tournament experience, the Louisiana native had 17 points on 5-of-11 shooting.
“We lost,” Eackles said. “I’m happy the team made it. I’m thankful for Derick Nelson and Johnathon Jones for helping us get us here. We’ll see Oakland University in the NCAA tournament in the near future. Players are taking it hard, and we want to start working out immediately, so we can make it back here in the (upcoming) years.”
Among the many hustle plays fans have grown accustomed to seeing the athletic Eackles make, he was swiping at the ball and pressuring Pitt, as Oakland did what it could to keep the game from getting too far out reach in the second half.
With 6:37 left in the first half, Eackles raced the ball upcourt on a fast break and appeared to draw a foul as he rainbow finger-rolled the ball into the hoop from eight feet away. Instead a charge was called on Eackles and the Panthers continued to roll toward their 39-26 halftime lead.
“Ledrick played very well in spurts. That charge call where he threw it up in the air and it went in, that was kind of a little bit of a turning-point call for him,” Oakland coach Greg Kampe said. “But what I liked about Ledrick is down the stretch, he just went and played.”
During the post-game press conference, Eackles remained confident and upbeat about the Grizzlies’ future. Oakland also returns sophomores Drew Maynard and Blake Cushingberry and brings in guards Travis Bader (redshirt) and Reggie Hamilton, a transfer from UMKC.
Eackles began to peak around the beginning of the conference season in January, but cooled as the Grizzlies ascended the record books. Friday was Eackles’ eight double-digit scoring game.
Follow Paul Kampe on Twitter @PaulKampe.