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Former Lanett basketball star to play first college game tonight

LANETT — Eight months after finishing his decorated high school career with a third-consecutive state championship and a tournament MVP honor, Emmanuel Littles is returning to the floor in a completely new role.

Tonight, Littles makes his North Alabama debut, as the Lions will travel to Birmingham to face the Samford Bulldogs at 7:30 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3.

“I’m excited,” Littles said. “I’m not only excited for myself, but I’m excited to see my team come together, and play as hard as we can. We have put in a lot of work over the offseason, we did a lot of competing to make each other better and prepared each other for the opportunity. The opportunity is here, now it’s time to go out and show what we can do.”

The six-foot-eight, 200-pound forward said that Lions head coach Tony Pujol has thrown out several of possible rotations for this season’s team, but on the latest list, Littles is the team’s starting power forward.

“You may be starting right now, but at any moment, that can change because of mismatch problems,” Littles said. “The part about starting doesn’t really matter. It’s about going in there doing what you do, how much energy you bring. The defensive and rebounding part, you just go in there and do what you have to do.”

Littles is expected to play at all three frontcourt positions this season, which is a hybrid role that he’s used to playing alongside six-foot-seven Anquaevious Pollard at Lanett High School. He also credits Panther head basketball coach Richard Carter in preparing him for the next level.

“Something that I took from Coach Carter, or high school that prepared me for the next level, is being able to get up and down the court,” Littles said. “With my size, being able to play different positions, be a versatile player. Being with Coach Carter, and being the biggest person on the team, I would always have to play the five, but he would give me the leeway to play the three or the four sometimes. At times, they gave me the versatility to be able to guard different positions, which helps me in college.”

Littles has received support from his former Panther teammates on social media when North Alabama’s team page has mentioned him.  The championship teams still keep in contact with one another and still treat each other like brothers, he said. Going from being one of the team’s undeniable stars to becoming a freshman hasn’t hindered Littles’ confidence as much as it’s motivated him.

“The transition is actually not hard because wherever you go, you have to start from somewhere,” he said. “Everyone has to come in as a freshman, but that doesn’t mean that you have to play like a freshman. Our team has eight freshmen, and I really think that all eight of us will be great.”

Having his college debut broadcasted live was a dream of his playing D-I basketball, but now the time of only dreaming is over.

Tonight, Littles laces them up, and once again, goes to battle.