UTEP’s Matt Willms works to return to full strength after playing last season with a torn labrum

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After redshirting in 2012-13, UTEP center Matt Willms entered the 2013-14 campaign hoping to have an impact for the Miners in his first season on the floor. Willms proved to be a solid contributor for head coach Tim Floyd, starting the last 17 games of the year and posting averages of 5.4 points and 3.5 rebounds per game on a team that won 23 games and a share of the Conference USA regular season title.

However Willms’ impact wasn’t as great as he’s hoped, with health being the reason why. Willms played the 2013-14 season with a torn labrum in his left (shooting) shoulder, suffering the injury in September before practices began. Willms played through the pain, undergoing surgery in early April.

Now rehabbing the shoulder, Willms hopes to improve on his numbers of a season ago. And in a story written by Bill Knight of the El Paso TimesFloyd touched on Willms’ importance to a team that should have the pieces needed to once again contend in Conference USA. And the 7-footer is hoping to be cleared by doctors upon his return to campus after he spends some time in his native Canada.

Floyd said, “Matt is such a big part of where we want to go. He’s got to get stronger and he’s got to continue to get stronger down in the low block. He has more God-given ability at his size than any player I’ve ever coached in terms of being able to run, jump, catch, pass, touch. Now it’s up to him. Now it’s a matter of dedication.”

Willlms said, “Right now I can do individual work. No contact; light weights. They told me everything is going great. By the time I get back from Canada, I should be cleared to do everything. I’ll do my physical therapy, the light weights, the individual work while I’m home. I’ve been fortunate … never had a major injury before this.”

UTEP returns guard C.J. Cooper (9.6 ppg, 3.0 apg) and forwards Julian Washburn (13.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.5 apg), Vince Hunter (12.3, 6.5) and Cedric Lang (6.5, 5.4) from last year’s team, in addition to the recuperating Willms. But Willms’ development is important due in large part to the fact that John Bohannon (11.9 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 1.7 bpg) is out of eligibility.

Bohannon led the Miners in rebounding and blocked shots last season, earning third team All-Conference USA honors as a result. That’s an important loss to address, especially when considering the fact that the Miners ranked 14th in Conference USA in defensive rebounding percentage (66.8%) with Bohannon.

For this reason, Willms’ health and development will be something to keep an eye on as the season approaches for UTEP.

NCAA denies extra-year request by NC State guard Henderson

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The NCAA has denied North Carolina State guard Terry Henderson’s request for another year of eligibility.

Henderson announced the decision Friday in a statement issued by the school.

The Raleigh native played two seasons at West Virginia before transferring to N.C. State and redshirting in 2014-15. He played for only 7 minutes of the following season before suffering a season-ending ankle injury.

As a redshirt senior in 2016-17, he was the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.8 points per game and made a team-best 78 3-pointers.

Henderson called it “an honor and privilege” to play in his hometown.

SMU gets transfer in Georgetown’s Akoy Agau

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SMU pulled in a frontcourt player in Georgetown transfer Akoy Agau, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Agau is immediately eligible for next season as a graduate transfer.

The 6-foot-8 Agau started his career at Louisville before transferring to Georgetown after one season. Spending two seasons with the Hoyas, Agau was limited to 11 minutes in his first season due to injuries. He averaged 4.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game last season.

Coming out of high school, Agau was a four-star prospect but he’s never lived up to that billing in-part because of injuries. Now, Agau gets one more chance to make a difference as he’s hoping to help replace some departed pieces like Ben Moore and Semi Ojeleye.

South Carolina loses big man Sedee Keita to transfer

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South Carolina big man Sedee Keita will transfer from the program, he announced on Friday.

The 6-foot-9 Keita was once regarded as a top-100 national prospect in the Class of 2016, but he never found consistent minutes with the Gamecocks for last season’s Final Four team.

Keita appeared in 29 games and averaged 1.1 points and 2.0 rebounds per game while shooting 27 percent from the field.

A native of Philadelphia, Keita will have to sit out next season before getting three more seasons of eligibility.

Although Keita failed to make an impact during his only season at South Carolina, he’ll be a coveted transfer thanks to his size and upside.

Mississippi State losing two to transfer

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Mississippi State will lose two players to transfer as freshmen Mario Kegler and Eli Wright are leaving the program.

Both Kegler and Wright were four-star prospects coming out of high school as they were apart of a six-man recruiting class that is supposed to be a major foundation for Ben Howland’s future with the Bulldogs.

The 6-foot-7 Kegler was Mississippi State’s third-leading scorer last season as he averaged 9.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Kegler should command some quality schools on the transfer market, especially since he’ll still have three more years of eligibility after sitting out next season due to NCAA transfer regulations. Kegler’s loss is also notable for Mississippi State because it is the second consecutive offseason that Howland lost a top-100, in-state product to transfer after only one season after Malik Newman left for Kansas.

Wright, a 6-foot-4 guard, was never able to find consistent minutes as he was already behind underclass perimeter options like Quinndary Weatherspoon, Lamar Peters and Tyson Carter last season. With Nick Weatherspoon, Quinndary’s four-star brother, also joining the Bulldogs next season, the writing was likely on the wall that Wright wasn’t going to earn significant playing time.

 

N.C. State lands second transfer of day with Utah’s Devon Daniels

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A big recruiting day for N.C. State continued on Saturday afternoon as Utah transfer and guard Devon Daniels pledged to the Wolfpack.

Earlier in the day, N.C. State and new head coach Kevin Keatts landed another quality transfer in UNC Wilmington guard C.J. Bryce.

The 6-foot-5 Daniels just finished his freshman season with the Utes in which he put up 9.9 points 4.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 57 percent from the field and 40 percent from three-point range. Just like Bryce, Daniels will have to sit out the 2017-18 season due to NCAA transfer regulations before he has three more seasons of eligibility.

N.C. State now has two potential starters on the perimeter for the 2018-19 season with the addition of Bryce and Daniels as it will be interesting to see what kind of talent the Wolfpack can get around them.