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Suffolk natives excel at Stratford

The Stratford University men’s basketball team and the Suffolk natives who are a part of it have been excelling this season.

At 19-5, the Stratford University men’s basketball team is currently getting ready for the United States Collegiate Athletic Association National Tournament. It is a significant milestone for a men’s basketball program that has been official for only two seasons. The team is 95 percent compiled of athletes from the Hampton Roads area, including Suffolk. This season has been coming along strong and Coach Franklin Chatman, who also has Suffolk ties, is excited.

“The kids have played well this season,” Chatman said. “We have beaten some very good teams, and things have been going really well. We are looking forward to this national tournament coming up.”

Chatman is a Suffolk native who previously coached at Nansemond River High School. He began coaching there during the 1999-2000 season and spent five years there. At Nansemond River, he was a two-time Southeastern District Coach of the Year winner and All-Region Coach of the Year. After Nansemond River, he spent a couple of seasons coaching at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy before being hired at the Apprentice School. Assistant Coach Leroy Skinner is a Suffolk native who also coached at Nansemond River.

Stratford has two Suffolk natives on the team, Jamonte Ricks and DeAndre Demiel. Ricks was a standout at Lakeland High School who brings a lot of energy to the floor for Stratford. In his last couple of games, he has been averaging a double-double. Defensively, he also takes on the opponents’ best offensive players.

Demiel is a Suffolk native but attended Churchland High School. He is currently second in the nation in steals and assists. Chatman believes that Demiel’s leadership skills are second to none for this team.

“Those guys have been doing good things for us,” Chatman said. “Hampton Roads is a talent-rich area, and these guys have been a big reason why we are where we are right now.”

The USCAA National Tournament will be held in Pennsylvania, and Stratford will take on Bluefield State University in the quarterfinals.

“We are very excited about this, with this being a first opportunity to qualify for this tournament,” Chatman said. “We have a tall task in front of us, and we want to make sure we are playing our best so we can make a run.”