UTEP currently has just one scholarship point guard on its roster, resulting in head coach Tim Floyd and his staff actively pursuing another option in the Class of 2016. Thursday the Miners landed that recruit, as 5-foot-10 point guard Deon Barrett announced that he’ll be attending the Conference USA school. Barrett is UTEP’s first verbal commitment in the Class of 2016.
Barrett, who attends Lancaster HS in Lancaster, Texas (located in Dallas County), just recently received a scholarship offer from UTEP and it didn’t take him long to commit. Barrett, who won a Class 5A state title alongside Texas A&M freshman Elijah Thomas last season, will take his official visit to UTEP this weekend. Barrett averaged 15 points and seven assists per game as a junior, a year in which he showed himself to be a good perimeter shooter as well as a distributor.
As noted above UTEP was in need of additional depth and a possible answer for the future at the point guard position. At present time junior guard Dominic Artis is UTEP’s lone scholarship point guard, with the academic ineligibility of sophomore Omega Harris (he’ll miss at least the first semester) leaving the Miners without a player who could occasionally spell Artis at the point.
While Barrett obviously can’t help UTEP with that depth issue this season, he can upon his arrival on campus for the 2016-17 season.
UTEP adds four-star forward Brodricks Jones, former San Diego State commit
With Brodricks Jones asking San Diego State for a release from his National Letter of Intent last month, a talented four-star prospect was suddenly on the market. Sunday Jones’ second recruitment came to an end, as it was confirmed to NBCSports.com that he’ll join Tim Floyd’s program at UTEP. Jones made the decision while visiting the El Paso campus, doing so days before scheduled trips to Memphis and Providence.
News of Jones’ commitment was first reported by CBSSports.com.
Jones is the seventh addition to the UTEP program, joining junior college transfers Dominic Artis and Lee Moore, and freshmen Josh McSwiggan, Paul Thomas, Kelvin Jones and Christian Romine. And with the Miners losing Vince Hunter to the NBA, the addition of Jones is an important one for them for the 2015-16 season.
UTEP also returns veterans Hooper Vint (redshirt senior) and Matt Willms (redshirt junior) to the front court, however it was reported earlier this week that Willms is expected to miss the entire season due to a foot injury (guard Omega Harris is expected to miss the fall semester for academic reasons per that same report).
With that being the case, the addition of Jones becomes even more important for a team that will be young in the paint this upcoming season.
UTEP head coach Tim Floyd suspended one game by Conference USA
With a chance to move into first place in Conference USA Thursday night, UTEP went through a highly frustrating evening at Louisiana Tech. The Miners saw their best player, Vince Hunter, get into first-half foul trouble and that contributed to their 77-60 loss to the Bulldogs.
Hunter picked up two fouls before the first media timeout, and he committed his third foul with 5:08 remaining in the first half. Cedrick Lang scored 18 points and grabbed ten rebounds to lead the way for UTEP. Also of note from the game was the fact that UTEP head coach Tim Floyd was ejected from the game with 10:05 remaining.
When he was ejected, he failed to immediately leave the playing court area. According to the conference’s standards of conduct, and delay or contrary action following an ejection will result in an automatic suspension from the following contest.
As a result of the suspension Floyd will miss UTEP’s game at Southern Miss on Saturday. UTEP (11-4 Conference USA), which had won seven straight games prior to Thursday’s defeat, is tied for second in C-USA with UAB and trails Louisiana Tech (13-3) by a game in the loss column.
2014-2015 Season Preview: Louisiana Tech the favorite in the ever-changing Conference USA
Conference realignment has been rampant the last few seasons, and Conference USA is still feeling the effects of it heading into the 2014-2015 season. Gone are East Carolina, Tulane and the league’s lone NCAA tournament team from last year, Tulsa. The conference welcomes in Western Kentucky as its newest member. If you’re scoring at home, that’s nine new programs and seven former members since 2013.
At least one thing looks to remain certain in 2014-2015, Louisiana Tech should finish atop the conference standings. The Bulldogs were one of four teams — Tulsa, Middle Tennessee and Southern Miss — to share the regular season title with a 13-3 record. Like previously mentioned, Tulsa left C-USA, Middle Tennessee lost four starters and Souther Miss is starting the Doc Sadler era after Donnie Tyndall accepted the Tennessee position.
Louisiana Tech returns plenty of key contributors, but none more important than head coach Michael White, who was in the conversation for several coaching vacancies this offseason.
The Bulldogs boast the league’s top back court with Kenneth ‘Speedy’ Smith running the show, Alex Hamilton back as the team’s top scorer and Raheem Appleby, who was sidelined for several weeks last season with an ankle injury. Michale Kyser mans the frontline with his 3.0 blocks per game, and he’ll be an important piece this season, as the Bulldogs’ biggest threat, UTEP, has two talented forwards.
The Miners may have finished fifth last season, but was only a game out of first in the top-heavy C-USA. Tim Floyd’s team is headlined by sophomore Vince Hunter and (12.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Julian Washburn (13.1 ppg). Another team looking to make a run at the Bulldogs is newcomer, Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers join the league from the Sun Belt, and have been to two of the last three NCAA tournaments. Ray Harper’s team is aided by senior guards T.J. Price and George Fant — the team’s top two scorers at 15.5 points and 13.3 points, respectively –who will help with the transition against better competition.
Along with Harper, C-USA has three new coaches. Mike Rhoades came over from VCU to take over at Rice while Michael Curry (Florida Atlantic) and Dan D’Antoni (Marshall) join the conference from the NBA sidelines, despite neither of them having college basketball coaching experience.
In: Western Kentucky Out: East Carolina, Tulane, Tulsa
PRESEASON CONFERENCE-USA PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Kenneth ‘Speedy’ Smith, Louisiana Tech
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged single-digits (7.8 ppg) last year, but he effected the game in so many other ways. He was second in the nation in assists (7.7 apg), was 10th in the nation with a 3.23 assist-to-turnover ratio, and he was also top 10 in the nation in steals at 2.5 per game. The senior guard was named Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year and is the only returning member of the league’s first-team from a season ago.
THE REST OF THE PRESEASON CONFERENCE-USA TEAM:
Alex Hamilton, Louisiana Tech: Another member of Louisiana Tech’s heralded back court. The 6-foot-4 guard averaged a team-high 14.5 points per game last season.
Pierria Henry, Charlotte: The 49ers top scorer from a season ago averaged 12.3 points, grabbed 5.1 boards and dished 5.8 assists per game.
Vince Hunter, UTEP: Hunter is coming off a great freshman campaign, averaging 12.5 points and 6.4 boards per game. Part of a talented front court duo with Julian Washburn.
T.J. Price, Western Kentucky: One of the top newcomers to the league averaged better than 15 points per game over the past two years in the Sun Belt.
Moore was a productive option for Wallace State last season, accounting for 18 points and 7.2 rebounds per contest as a freshman. Moore shot 56.9% from the field and 33 percent from beyond the arc in 2013-14, with just over 75 percent of his field goal attempts coming inside of the three-point arc (88 three-point attempts). Moore was good when it came to getting to the foul line as well, as he averaged nearly 6.5 free throw attempts per game.
Moore failed to score in double figures in just three games last season, posting a pair of 28-point games including one in a win over Westchester Community College in the first round of the NJCAA National Championship at Hutchinson JC in Kansas.
UTEP adds four freshman guards to the program this season, but with C.J. Cooper and Julian Washburn both being seniors it doesn’t hurt to add an experienced (albeit not at the Division I level) player to the program. Moore has the ability to compete for playing time immediately upon his arrival in El Paso, which is expected of junior college products.
Having already received one verbal commitment from a front court prospect, UTEP head coach Tim Floyd received another Wednesday evening as 6-foot-8 forward Paul Thomas announced his decision to join the Conference USA program. Thomas joins center Christian Romine as 2015 prospects who have committed to UTEP thus far.
I have made my college decision and UTEP will be where i will continue my Basketball career. This is only the beginning .#Miners 🔨
Thomas, who officially visited UTEP last weekend, attends Summer Creek HS in Houston, Texas and played his grassroots basketball for the Houston Hoops program. Thomas’ versatility can serve UTEP well at both forward spots, and with Julian Washburn and Cedric Lang both being seniors that’s important.
Washburn was UTEP’s leading scorer last season, averaging 13.1 points per contest, and Lang chipped in with 6.5 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. In addition to those two the Miners will lose point guard C.J. Cooper at the end of the 2014-15 season, leaving sophomore Vince Hunter (12.3, 6.5) as their most productive returnee who will have eligibility remaining beyond the upcoming campaign.
Among the other programs to have offered Thomas during his recruitment were Houston, Rice, Temple and Texas Tech.