Hofstra guard Powers eager for hometown finale at W&M

Former Williamsburg Christian Academy star Deron Powers opened his collegiate career as a freshman starter for Hampton University in a loss at William and Mary in 2012. On Thursday, Powers will get one more go inside Kaplan Arena, wearing a slightly different shade of blue this time.

Powers sat out last season after transferring from Hampton to Hofstra and is averaging 12.7 points and 5.3 assists in his senior season as the Pride's starting point guard.

The visit for Hofstra (13-16, 5-11 Colonial Athletic Association) to William and Mary 7 p.m. Thursday will be Powers' final chance to play in his hometown as a collegiate athlete. Powers and the Pride will stay in-state for their final regular-season game, finishing at James Madison on Friday.

"I don't have enough tickets," Powers said of the William and Mary game. "But I'm definitely going to have a lot of fans. They're just excited to see me play again. Mostly, they're just telling me to go off."

Powers said he is excited to play at home again, but is just as pumped up for what he called a "rivalry game" with the Tribe (15-12, 9-7). The teams staged an epic CAA tourney semifinal in 2015 won by William and Mary before Hofstra paid the Tribe back last season in the same stage. Both teams lost their subsequent championship matchups and missed the NCAA tournament. William and Mary claimed the first meeting this season between the two, 95-93, in Hempstead, N.Y.

Powers , who led WCA to a state championship as a senior, will be the only player on the floor Thursday with NCAA tourney experience, having represented Hampton in its two games in 2015 against Manhattan and Kentucky.

The 6-foot, 170-pounder faced the Wildcats again this season, leading the Pride with 18 points in a loss at Brooklyn's Barclays Center. He said Kentucky coach John Calipari told him, "Good game" in the hallway afterward.

Powers is one of four Pride players among the top-21 in the league in scoring, joining Justin Wright-Foreman (17.3), Eli Pemberton (12.8) and Brian Bernardi (12.4).

Powers is also third in the CAA in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.0), a spot behind William and Mary's David Cohn (2.9).

"Pound-for- pound, inch-for-inch, there's nobody tougher than him," fourth-year Hofstra coach Joe Mihalich said Tuesday in the league coaches' conference call.

Mihalich credited Powers with helping former Hofstra point guard Juan'ya Green have the CAA Player of the Year-caliber season he did last year.

No doubt, going against Green helped Powers in his transition season, too.

"Juan'ye is a great player," Powers said. "I don't like to give too many players credit, but he is one player that I can say is really talented. It was fun playing against him every day."

Powers plans to pursue a professional career when his time at Hofstra comes to a close. First, he wants to help guide the Pride to its first NCAA tourney berth since 2001.

Sitting near the bottom of the league in the standings, it hasn't been the season the Pride hoped for. But in a league with so much parity, Powers expects they will have as good of a chance as anyone come tournament time. And he reminds his teammates that Hampton was only 12-17 before its remarkable MEAC tourney championship run in 2015.

"At the end of the day, everybody has to win those three or four games in the tournament," Powers said. "Anybody can lose, no matter what your record is at the beginning of the tournament. We're just going to keep our heads up and keep playing."

Holtzman can be reached by phone at 757-298-5830.

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