Shemiye McLendon (#15) goes up for 2 as Hofstra defeated LIU 89-71 in the season opener at Hempstead.
Photo by C. Gottlieb

Last year guard Charles Jenkins stole the show and was named Haggerty Award winner going to the outstanding player in the tri-state area while wearing a Hofstra University uniform. The Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association drafted Jenkins in late June.

This time around the starting forward position on the college’s Pride belongs to Nathaniel Lester, as he is trying to follow in the footsteps and go in the same general direction from a different spot on the court than Jenkins did.

The combination of guard Mike Moore to Lester is trying to take the Pride to a very successful season and go deep into the NCAA tournament.

Nathaniel Lester’s father Lambert Lester hails from Guyana where the primary sport is soccer. Lambert became a soccer player and eventually a baseball player. All Lambert keeps telling his son is put the ball in the basket, meaning to shoot.

Nathaniel, who already graduated and sat out last year with a quadriceps injury, can certainly score. He was anxious to get back onto the basketball court and in the initial game of the season tallied 33 points against Long Island University. He passed his old previous mark of 22 against James Madison.

In this Long Island University game, all eyes were on him as he was almost perfect from the field with his shots from the outside as well as inside and he also had tremendous moves to the basket.

“We all have to step up,” Moore said.

Lester is doing it, especially with his offensive work.

Last year he sat out and learned more about Mo Cassara’s system. Cassara is now in his second year as head coach of the Pride.

“It was frustrating to be here at Hofstra and not be able to play,” the student athletes said.

“Last year when I knew that when I came back (to the team) I would have to step up,” said Lester who played high school ball at Carnarsie of Brooklyn and played AAU ball to try to benefit himself for his last year in a college uniform.”

“Lester does some great things (on the court),” said Cassara, who is very high on him. “(At times) he is great offensively and makes good decisions. I’m real proud of Nathaniel’s effort because he sticks with it. He and Mike Moore work well. They both have great strength.”

During the last off-season, he stayed in shape by working under Ted Gustus, former high school coach who recently got appointed as commissioner of the borough of Brooklyn in the Public Schools Athletic League. Gustus will attend as many Hofstra games as possible throughout the season.

Lester got into a situation where they (the teammates) can depend on him again,” added Gustus. “He sat out a year when he didn’t play, worked with me through the whole season. We worked on his shots, ball handling, and he is strong around the basket.

“If he stays consistent, he has the ability to follow some other ex-Hofstra players who make it the big tie, He has aspirations to go pro.”

Meanwhile at Long Island University, Coach Jim Ferry still has the players work on all phases of the game if they want to go deeper than they did last year when they won the Northeast Conference Tournament and advance into it is the NCAA tournament.

In the pre-season poll, the Blackbirds were picked by the coaches to defend their league title.

The combination of Jason Brickman to Julian Boyd both underclassmen in a three-guard offense must led the way and step ‘it’ up another level. Only two seniors are on the roster.

“Julian got better and Jamal Olasewere also got better,” said Coach Ferry. “It’s very tough to repeat in this league. (But) we’ll try. League competition has gotten better.”

Nathaniel Lester (#1) would score 33 points for Hofstra and David Imes (#5) scored 10 as Hofsta defeated LIU in the season opener for both teams on Long Island.
Photos by C. Gottlieb

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