Preseason Preview: UTEP


(Photo by Ryan Messier/Paint Touches)

The first official practices of the 18-19 college basketball season are in the books and Paint Touches is celebrating by counting down every Marquette opponent from worst to first. Each preview will contain a look at how the opponent did last season, who they lose, who they gain, reasonable expectations for their season, and our own prediction of how their matchup(s) with Marquette will go. This series will start with the most under of underdogs and progress all the way up to most unbeatable of opponents. We will be releasing one a day ending the day before Marquette’s exhibition with Carroll. That’s right, when this series ends, Marquette basketball will finally be here.

Team: UTEP Miners
17-18 Record: 11-20 (6-12 CUSA)
Postseason?: No
17-18 KenPom: 240
Date: December 4, 2018
Location: Fiserv Forum
Coach: Rodney Terry (1st Season)
Projected KenPom Range: 250-325
Projected Conference Finish: 11/14 in Conference USA

Departures from 17-18
Omega Harris: Starting PG: 32.7 mpg, 11.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.2 bpg, 1.5 tpg, .446 FG%, .374 3P% (Graduated)
Keith Frazier: Starting SG: 24.7 mpg, 11.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.4 bpg, 1.7 tpg, .403 FG%, .336 3P% (Graduated)
Isiah Osborne: Starting PF: 26.9 mpg, 9.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.0 apg, 0.7 spg, 0.1 bpg, 0.8 tpg, .377 FG%, .328 3P% (Transferred to Carleton University)
Matt Willms: Starting C: 22.5 mpg, 8.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.3 spg, 1.2 bpg, 1.7 tpg, .587 FG%, .000 3P% (Graduated)
Trey Wade: 3rd Man off the Bench: 17.8 mpg, 7.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 0.4 apg, 0.4 spg, 0.9 bpg, 0.7 tpg, .481 FG%, .346 3P% (Transferred to South Plains College)
Tirus Smith: 4th Man off the Bench: 13.6 mpg, 4.4 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 0.2 apg, 0.1 spg, 0.5 bpg, 1.2 tpg, .463 FG%, .250 3P% (Transferred to Jones County Junior College)
Jake Flaggert: 5th Man off the Bench: 12.4 mpg, 1.1 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.1 spg, 0.1 bpg, 0.2 tpg, .233 FG%, .259 3P% (Graduated)
Trey Touchet: 6th Man off the Bench: 11.0 mpg, 2.3 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.2 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.7 tpg, .411 FG%, .250 3P% (Grad transferred to McNeese State)
Deshaun Highler: Benchwarmer: Appeared in 1 game (left team for personal reasons)
Corbin Stephens: Benchwarmer: Appeared in 0 games (left team for personal reasons)
Taj Royster: Benchwarmer: Appeared in 0 games (left team for personal reasons)
Joey St. Pierre: Benchwarmer: Appeared in 0 games (Transferred to UW-Parkside)
68% of scoring, 65% of rebounding, 56% of assists, 64% of steals, 88% of blocks, 71% of 3PM

Jordan Lathon: 4-star PG, ranked #134 by 247 composite rankings
Nigel Hawkins: 3-star SG, ranked #440 by 247 internal rankings
Deon Stroud: 3-star SF, ranked 51st best SF by ESPN
Efe Odigie: 3-star PF, unranked by major recruiting services
Kaosi Ezeagu: 2-star PF, unranked by major recruiting services
Ountae Campbell: Walk on JUCO SG
Isaiah Rhyanes: Walk on C (returns from redshirt)
Brandon Averitt: Walk on PG (returns from redshirt)
Jakobe Dill: Walk on SG
Garrett Sullivan: Walk on SG

Probable Starters:
PG: Evan Gilyard: 5’10” 155 lb SO: 20.2 mpg, 9.1 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 1.6 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.0 bpg, 2.2 tpg, .381 FG%, .292 3P%
SG: Kobe Magee: 6’1” 150 lb SO: 19.4 mpg, 4.5 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 1.7 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.0 bpg, 1.1 tpg, .442 FG%, .425 3P%
SF: Nigel Hawkins: 6’4” 185 lb FR: 3-star SG, ranked #436 by 247 internal rankings
PF: Jordan Lathon: 6’4” 190 lb FR: 4-star PG, ranked #134 by 247 composite rankings
C: Paul Thomas: 6’8” 210 lb SR: 25.0 mpg, 8.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.4 apg, 0.4 spg, 0.3 bpg, 1.9 tpg, .461 FG%, .276 3P%

Probable Bench:
Deon Stroud: 6’5” 190 lb FR SF
Efe Odigie: 6’9” 280 lb FR PF
Kaosi Ezeagu: 6’10” 240 lb FR PF
Ountae Campbell: 6’4” 195 lb RSSO SG

Probable Benchwarmers:
Isaiah Rhyanes: 6’9” 220 lb RSJR C
Brandon Averitt: 6’1” 150 lb RSFR PG
Jakobe Dill: 6’3” 175 lb FR SG
Garrett Sullivan: 6’5” 190 lb FR SG
Bryson Williams: 6’8” 225 lb JR PF (Redshirting due to NCAA transfer rules)
Anthony Tarke: 6’6” 220 lb JR SF (Redshirting due to NCAA transfer rules)
Souley Boum: 6’3” 160 lb SO PG (Redshirting due to NCAA transfer rules)
Tydus Verhoeven: 6’9” 205 lb SO PF (Redshirting due to NCAA transfer rules)
Gilles Dekoninck: 6’6” 205 lb SO SF (Redshirting due to NCAA transfer rules)

• UTEP’s 17-18 season started with the abrupt retirement of long time head coach Tim Floyd. Interim coach Phil Johnson did what he could, but the Miners struggled to get to double digit wins. UTEP replaced Johnson after the season which led to several transfers and decommitments….on top of the three starters they were already losing to graduation. This season will most definitely be a rebuilding one for the Miners and with them projected to finish near the bottom of CUSA, they could end up being a big drag on Marquette’s computer numbers.
• If there is any hope for this team it is because of new coach Rodney Terry. The Miners luring him away from Fresno State was considered quite the coup and left Bulldog fans stunned. Terry is a Texan by birth and played college ball at St. Edwards University in Austin but Conference USA is generally considered a step down from the Mountain West. When Terry took over Fresno State, they were on a four year streak on sub .500 records. It took a few years, but Terry led the Bulldogs to a CBI championship game appearance, a Mountain West Tournament title, an NIT appearance, and three consecutive 20+ win seasons. Armed with experience and UTEP’s legendary basketball history (if you don’t know what I’m talking about shame on you, go look it up) Terry should be able to turn UTEP into a contender in Conference USA. Unfortunately for Marquette, it will likely take a couple of years.
• The Miners lost their two top scorers to graduation and their third to transfer leaving zero returning players who averaged double digit scoring last season. In fact, they are only returning three scholarship players total. The most likely to take up the mantle of lead scorer is PG Evan Gilyard. The diminutive Gilyard led the Miners in points per 40 with 9.1 points scored in only 20 minutes of action. You would expect a 5’10” basketball player to excel from range but he only had 26 treys on the season with under 30% accuracy. Gilyard is a crafty slasher who can score amongst the trees and most importantly, get to the foul line. He had nearly as many made FTs (81) as made FGs (88) last season. Unfortunately, he suffers from the same allergy to defense that fellow short scorers Andrew Rowsey and Markus Howard do. Any points that Gilyard gets on one end is likely to be given up on the other.
• August 2nd was an up and down day for the UTEP faithful. It started with them landing 4-star Jordan Lathon but ended with them losing their leading returning scorer Isiah Osborne to transfer. Lathon was originally a Northwestern pledge and expected to be their PG of the future. Wildcat fans and supposedly even Coach Collins were shocked when Northwestern withdrew Lathon’s scholarship offer. Northwestern never released details on why they rescinded the offer though Northwestern’s academic reputation seems to make grades a likely assumption. Lathon is the highest rated non-Western Kentucky recruit coming into Conference USA this season and should be an instant star for the Miners. The only concern is that UTEP will rely on lot of 4 guard lineups this season and at 6’4” he is one of the largest guards on the roster. Coach Terry will have to get very creative on the defensive end.
• Size is a huge concern for UTEP next season. Of their eight available scholarship players, only three are taller than 6’5″. Of those three, two are true freshmen that weren’t ranked by the major recruiting services. That leaves rising senior Paul Thomas to try and man the starting C position. Thomas is 6’8″ and skinny, not an ideal candidate for taking on bruisers like Theo John and Ed Morrow. He did lead the Miners in rebounds but with only 0.3 blocks to his name he doesn’t add much in terms of rim protection.
• While UTEP will struggle this season, Coach Terry already has them in solid position for the 19-20 season. UTEP’s roster features five players on the roster who must redshirt due to NCAA transfer rules. Of the five, four of them would likely be starters if they were eligible this season. Marquette unfortunately faces them when they are down but Coach Terry already has them on the right path for future seasons.

• This one will not be pretty for the visiting team. Overmatched and undersized the Miners fall behind quickly in the first half. Having only eight scholarship players they also face fatigue and foul trouble as the game drags on. Howard abuses Gilyard for 20 first half points and all the big men take turns dominating Thomas in the post. Marquette ends up with a 25+ point victory and the only reason it isn’t more is because the walk-ons get significant minutes in the second half.

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Categories: Analysis, Home, Offseason, Previews

Author:Ryan Jackson

Texas A&M Professional, Marquette Fantatic


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