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“And that goes for a lot of the guys on the team, and that’s the chip we play with on our shoulder,” he added.

It’s easy to be overlooked when sharing real estate with three programs that have combined to win 11 NCAA tournaments and boast of Hall of Fame coaches.

But the Eagles have those things, too.

Four decades before N.C. Central won the Division II title in 1989, the Eagles were coached by John McLendon - a James Naismith disciple who’s credited for creating the fast break and full-court zone press, but whose most significant contribution to the sport might have been organizing a game that officially never took place.

In 1944, McLendon’s team at what then was called the North Carolina College for Negroes was denied a spot in the national postseason tournaments because black colleges weren’t allowed to play in them. With mixed-race games illegal at the time in the Jim Crow South, McLendon set up a game against an intramural team from Duke inside a locked, empty gym.

The Eagles won 88-44 in what became known as the “Secret Game” because no outsiders knew about it until the Hall of Famer finally told the story shortly before his death in 1999.

“I’m more just like a caretaker of the program,” Moton said, “because the legacy has already been created.”


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