UTEP Miners

Associated Press

Three-star point guard headed to UTEP

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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

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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.

Former San Diego State signee Brodricks Jones trims list to four


In late June forward Brodricks Jones, who was expected to be a key piece down the line for San Diego State, surprised some people when he requested to be released from his National Letter of Intent. Jones, a four-star 6-foot-9 power forward, hasn’t lacked for attention since reopening his recruitment and Saturday night he announced via Twitter that he’s now considering four schools.

“I have narrowed my choices to Memphis, UTEP, Syracuse and Providence and will take visits in the very near future,” Jones tweeted.

In regards to Memphis the Tigers find themselves in this race just days after losing their best front court player in Austin Nichols, who asked for and was granted a release from his scholarship. Without Nichols, the Tigers return senior Shaq Goodwin in the front court with freshmen Dedric Lawson (whose brother K.J. will be in the running for minutes at the three) and Nick Marshall joining Josh Pastner’s program.

As for UTEP, the Miners have two upperclassmen in Hooper Vint (senior) and Matt Willms (junior) with four freshmen coming aboard. However, like Memphis Tim Floyd’s program is right at the 13-scholarship mark at this time. Providence, which lost two front court players (Tyler Harris and Paschal Chukwu) via transfer this offseason, has an available scholarship with sophomore Ben Bentil being their most experienced front court player.

Syracuse, which added Chukwu to its roster, has an available scholarship but does have to consider NCAA sanctions that led to them losing 12 scholarships over a four-year period that begins in 2016. Should they land Jones, the Orange would be at 12 scholarships counting commit Matthew Moyer for the 2016-17 season (provided everyone who can return does), which would be two above their new limit. Syracuse is also in the race for five-star guard Tyus Battle.

In their front court for the 2015-16 season the Orange return three upperclassmen, with junior Tyler Roberson being the most experienced of the three (DaJuan Coleman and Chinoso Okoboh being the others), and freshmen Tyler Lydon and Moustapha Diagne join the program.

Where Jones lands remains to be seen, but the four programs listed offer up interesting scenarios for the Californian. And in the case of Memphis and UTEP, adding him will likely lead to some scholarship juggling.

UTEP receives commitment from former Oregon guard

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With starting guard C.J. Cooper being one of four seniors to move on at the end of the 2014-15 season, UTEP was in search of another player capable of playing the point next season. Head coach Tim Floyd has found a player capable of doing so, as it was reported Saturday night by the El Paso Times and ESPN.com that former Oregon guard Dominic Artis will be a Miner.

Artis, who attended Diablo Valley CC in California this past academic year but did not play basketball, played two seasons for Dana Altman before he and two other players were dismissed from the Oregon program last spring. Artis, Damyean Dotson and Brandon Austin were named in a sexual assault investigation but were not charged. Like Artis, Dotson will resume his playing career in Texas as he committed to Houston earlier this spring.

Austin, who played for NJCAA Division I national champion Northwest Florida State last season, has yet to pick a college.

In two seasons at Oregon Artis averaged 6.4 points and 2.7 assists in 20.5 minutes per game, shooting 36.2 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from beyond the arc. Artis’ freshman season was interrupted by a foot injury, and a nine-game suspension for a violation of NCAA rules didn’t help matters at the start of the 2013-14 season.

He joins a UTEP perimeter that needs to account for the loss of their top two assist men in Cooper and Julian Washburn, with another junior college guard in Lee Moore joining the program as well. Omega Harris, who averaged six points per game as a freshman in 2014-15, is the team’s most productive perimeter returnee.

Artis, who will have two years of eligibility remaining, is the fifth addition to the UTEP program. In addition to Artis and Moore, the Miners will also add freshman forwards Josh McSwiggan, Paul Thomas and Christian Romine.

UTEP’s Vince Hunter is going pro

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Vince Hunter is heading to the professional ranks.

The 6-foot-8 sophomore from UTEP will declare for the NBA Draft, according to a report from ESPN.com.

READ MORE: All early entry decisions

As a freshman, Hunter was named the Conference USA freshman of the year, and this past season he was a first-team all-league player. He averaged 14.9 points and 9.2 boards.

Hunter is a tremendous athlete with long arms and a knack for finding his way to the glass, but where he struggles is offensively. He’s not a great shooter or scorer at this point in his development, and he’ll need to work on that if he’s going to be more than a guy that bounces between the D-League and the NBA.

Hunter is currently projected as a mid-to-late second round pick.

Assigned Reading: The life, mysterious death of a former Division I head coach


At one point in his career Jason Rabedeaux was viewed by many as a rising star in the coaching profession. Spending one season at North Adams State before joining Kelvin Sampson at Washington State in 1989, Rabedeaux worked 11 seasons under Sampson at Washington State and Oklahoma before getting his shot to run a program at UTEP in 1999.

That was one of the many aspects of Rabedeax’s life, which came to an end last September, that Wright Thompson of ESPN.com touched on in his profile of the late coach.

In 1999, a young man, just 35, he’d been hired as the head coach at UTEP, replacing the legendary Don Haskins. By 2001, he was named Western Athletic Conference coach of the year. “He had the world by the balls,” says his former assistant and best friend, Bobby Champagne, now head coach at North Alabama. “He had a house up on the hill and two country club memberships. A wife and two kids and another on the way.”

Then he started losing. He began drinking heavily, to manage the stress, and started to take advantage of his celebrity. Champagne knew something was wrong when Rabedeaux missed a flight to visit a recruit; he got drunk at a bar near the airport instead.

There was a four-year stint at Marquette as an assistant a couple years later, but personal demons led to that opportunity being lost as well. Ultimately Rabedeaux wound up coaching in Saigon, which is where his life came to a tragic end. Thompson’s story about Rabedeaux’s life and struggles can be read here.