Senior Night for the men’s basketball team at NC Central was a roaring success, as the Eagles notched their third straight win, getting a 72-62 victory at home over South Carolina State.
But after the game, there was an emotional scene in the locker room. You see, VJ — the 6-year-old son of Eagles’ head coach LeVelle Moton — didn’t exactly understand what Senior Night meant. He didn’t realize that this would be the last time many of his favorite players and friends would be playing their final home game at McDougald-McLendon Arena.
THE BRACKET: Print the official 2019 March Madness bracket
When his dad explained it to him, VJ rushed over, filled with tears, and gave a huge hug to the Eagle he enjoys watching the most, Larry McKnight Jr.
Hard seeing your son emotional, once he realizes his fave player has played his last home game. He thought they would play in the backcourt together....#WeAreNCCU #BiggerThanBasketball pic.twitter.com/bmd5YcBRYr— LeVelle Moton (@LeVelleMoton) February 28, 2019
In an Instagram post, Moton explained that VJ had “established a deep connection” with McKnight, and initially was going to focus his Black History Month school project on the Eagles’ senior guard, but instead opted for late pop star Michael Jackson.
“His dream was simply for him and Larry to play in the same backcourt once he became 18,” Moton wrote on Instagram. “As a parent, it's tough to see your child emotional, but I love it because he's passionate about Who/What's in his life. I'm truly blessed that my child connected with an incredible young man.”
MARCH MADNESS: Sign up for the official Bracket Challenge Game
McKnight, a 6-foot-4 native of North Miami, Florida, had a solid Senior Night performance, tallying 13 points, four rebounds and an assist. He’s third for the Eagles in scoring this season and second in minutes played.
“Always remember it’s bigger than yourself,” McKnight wrote in his own Instagram post. “You never know who’s watching you or looking up to you.”
The Eagles currently have a 10-5 record in MEAC play and are slated for a No. 3 seed in the conference tournament in Norfolk, Virginia.
While VJ won’t get to see McKnight and the Eagles play in Durham, North Carolina anymore this season, maybe he can convince his dad to let him tag along to the MEAC tournament.
Mitchell Northam is a graduate of Salisbury University. His work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Orlando Sentinel, SB Nation, FanSided, USA Today and the Delmarva Daily Times. He grew up on Maryland's Eastern Shore and is now based in Durham, N.C.