For many freshmen enrolling during the summer gives them the opportunity to get acclimated to a new school while also going through workouts with their teammates. That process is of even greater importance at the service academies, where newcomers are getting used to college life that’s more demanding than your standard college campus.
Forward Garrett Thibodeaux was going through that experience at the Air Force Academy, and it didn’t take him long to figure out that the new situation wasn’t the best for him. Saturday morning it was reported by Brett Briggeman of the Colorado Springs Gazette that Thibodeaux left the program eight days into basic training, and will enroll at UTSA.
The 6-foot-8 forward was one of three newcomers who directly enrolled into the Academy (it isn’t unusual for freshmen to be sent to the Academy’s prep school for a year to help with the adjustment), and he was expected to be a contributor for the Falcons.
Thibodeaux’s exit puts a bit more pressure on some returning Falcons, particularly 6-11 center Zach Moer and 6-8 forward Joe Tuss.
An excellent shooter, Tuss is the one many within the program hope stays healthy and emerges as a Marek Olesinski-type player and allow Moer to reprise his off-the-bench role of a year ago. The rest of the potential lineup would include Hayden Graham, Zach Kocur, Trevor Lyons and someone else, either someone from the incoming group or perhaps sophomore Ryan Manning.
For UTSA, the addition of Thibodeaux gives them an additional piece in a front court that lost its best player in Jeromie Hill (16.0 ppg, 8.1 rpg) and second-best rebounder in Kaj-Björn Sherman (7.0 rpg). Ryan Bowie is UTSA’s best returning rebounder (5.8 rpg), but he’s a 6-foot-1 guard.
UTSA’s now added five front court players to the program in advance of the 2015-16 season, with the group consisting of junior college transfer J.R. Harris and four freshmen (including Thibodeaux).