NORFOLK, Va. -- Jason McCoy and Alex Parker have been teammates for seven years, and roommates for two of the last four. Sharing the same position on the Morgan State basketball team isn't about to damage a friendship that dates back to their schoolboy days in the Bronx.
Barring three straight upset victories, their careers will come to an end at the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament here at the Scope this week. Morgan State, the No. 7 seed, meets South Carolina State in a quarterfinal game tonight (6:30).
The second quarterfinal tonight (9) sends top-seeded Coppin State against Bethune-Cookman, an 81-71 winner over UMES in last night's preliminary.
Of the two senior point guards at Morgan State, McCoy has had the better career. Known as James in the program but Jason to everyone, he made the MEAC All-Rookie team as a freshman, and was a second-team All-MEAC choice last season, when he averaged 12.4 points and 4.3 assists. His 1,272 points have him tied for No. 10 on Morgan State's all-time scoring list, and he got the record for assists as a junior, stretching it to 428.
For three-plus seasons, he was there for every Morgan State game. But he suffered a torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee Jan. 7 at North Carolina A&T;, and missed the next four games.
Parker took advantage of his friend's absence, and has started since. He had spent much of the last three seasons on a yo-yo, starting one game and sitting the next for coach Nat Frazier, and his confidence suffered. He developed a new attitude, however, when Michael Holmes took over the program.
"We've got two quality people at that position, and we're going to use both," said Holmes, whose team went 6-7 after an 0-14 start. "Jason was doing well before he got hurt, and then Alex had to take over the point guard spot. It's not like we're alternating them now, because we use both at other positions."
They were opponents on New York's two most powerful AAU programs, McCoy coming up through the New York Gauchos and Parker the Riverside Church Hawks. They met in a biology class as sophomores, the same year they made the varsity at Evander Childs High. They starred on mediocre teams, McCoy as the shooting guard and Parker doing a little of everything.
Parker was ready for a career in criminal justice, but he decided to follow McCoy south after Sal Frazier, a New York prep coach, recommended them to his brother at Morgan State. Parker, a sociology major, took the entrance exam to the New York Police Academy as a Morgan State freshman, and still plans to pursue work in criminal justice.