The University of The Virgin Islands (UVI) Buccaneer men’s basketball team will make its return to the court at the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC) 2024 Hope Credit Union Men's and Women's Basketball Championship at Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The event is an annual single-elimination tournament to crown the conference champion. The Buccaneers qualified as the eighth overall seed in the tournament as they finished the season with an 8-14 record overall and a 6-10 mark in GCAC conference play.


The tournament begins on Wednesday, February 28 with four games in the opening round and will conclude on Sunday, March 3 with the championship in the men’s and women's brackets. For the Buccaneers to achieve their championship aspiration, they will have to win four straight games in five days, upsetting some teams along the way, which is well within the DNA of this team. The Buccaneers have already stunned Tougaloo College, and Philander Smith-University, who are the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, respectively, in the tournament.


“We turned things around at the end of the season and I'm very excited to see what we will do in the tournament,” said head Coach Shannon Taylor.


UVI enters the tournament riding a four-game winning streak and closed out the season winning five of the last six games. The Buccaneers will faceoff with the Bleu Devils of Dillard University during the first round of the tournament in the No. 8 vs. No. 9 matchup. The teams met twice in the regular season with the Bleu Devils coming out victorious in both contests by eight points each time. The first matchup finished with a 63-55 final score at Dent Hall in New Orleans, Louisiana as a second-half lead slipped away from the Buccaneers. The rematch took place at the Elridge Blake Sports and Fitness Center in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands as Dillard once again outlasted UVI 67-59. The Buccaneers will look to get their revenge when it counts most to avenge both losses.


UVI comes into the tournament averaging 67 points per game and will turn to its veterans to lead the way for them offensively. Senior guards William Steger and Naythan Shaw-Clarke will control the ball on the floor and run the offense for the Buccaneers. Shaw-Clarke leads the team in assists, and Steger's speed allows the team to play at a faster pace. The team’s leading scorer, Maurice Smith Jr., has recorded seven double-doubles on the season and scored in double digits in 17 of his team’s 21 games. Meanwhile, junior guard Jalil Langston has scored in double digits in 16 of his team’s 21 contests.

On the defensive end, the Buccaneers must slow down Dillard’s offense, which scores 68 points per game. Langston, the defensive presence on the perimeter for the Buccaneers has 31 steals on the year and averages 1.5 steals per game. Smith, Jr. will be the impact player down low for his team as he has averaged 8.1 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and one block per game.


The Buccaneers’ game versus Tougaloo College will tip-off at 9 p.m. AST on Wednesday, February 28. All tournament games can be streamed via the “GCAC Channel” on HBCU+.


About UVI Athletics

The University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and, as of July 1, 2023, competes in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC). Entering the 2023-24 season, the Buccaneers will begin their 17th season of athletic competition. As the only Historically Black College or University (HBCU) in the Caribbean, UVI currently sponsors six sports, including men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s basketball, and men’s and women’s outdoor track and field. For more information on UVI Athletics, visit