UTEP Center Looks to Have Breakout Year

Mar 8, 2012; Memphis, TN, USA; UTEP Miners center John Bohannon (21) in the game against the Memphis Tigers during the second half of the quarter finals of the Conference USA Tournament at the FedEx Forum. Memphis Tigers defeated UTEP Miners 65-47. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden-US PRESSWIRE

In the summer of 2010, a 6'10 190lb C by the name of John Bohannon made his way into El Paso, and onto the UTEP basketball team. An All State selection from Lancaster, TX, Bohannon was actually recruited to play for the Miners by former coach Tony Barbee. After Barbee bolted for Auburn, Bo stayed the course and decided to see things through at UTEP under new coach Tim Floyd.

As a freshman, Bo showed us glimpses of that All State talent. He scored in double figures four times, including a 15 point effort against Memphis, and a 12 and 12 performance against Arkansas Pine-Bluff. But, on a star studded, senior laden team, Bohannon had to take a back seat, learn from the guys ahead of him, and wait for his time to come.

As a sophomore, that time had arrived. The Miners fielded a team with a slew of newcomers that made Bo, with one year of experience under his belt, a veteran. He took advantage of his new role, leading the Miners in both points (11.5 ppg) and rebounds (7.3 rpg). But, perhaps due to youth and inexperience, something was still missing.

Now, as he enters his third year as a Miner, and with the most experience on the team, its time for John Bohannon to become a leader for the Miners, and to step into the big time role that he came here to play. When asked about stepping into that role, he said:

"From my freshman year to my sophomore year I improved, and I just want to make the same, if not more improvement this year...I think I'm ready for [a leadership role]. I can let the young guys know what I've been through, and the wars that we've been through, and just lead by example"

It'll be interesting to see just what kind of improvement Bo will show in his junior year. He's spent the summer working to better all facets of his game: "strength, conditioning, post work, and shooting the ball from the perimeter".

Of course, the knock on Bo has never been about his athletic abilities. If anything, its been his size. While he is certainly tall enough to be productive in the post, he could undoubtedly benefit from adding a few extra pounds.

He did put on 15 lbs between his freshman and sophomore years, and a similar increase in weight between his sophomore and junior years probably wouldn't be such a bad thing. And, while he claims that he is bringing his weight up, he was reluctant to tell us just exactly what he is weighing in at. Jokingly, he said "I can't tell you all, it's a surprise. We'll see October 15th, I'll let you all know".

Whatever weight Bo checks in at, 2012-13 is certainly looking like his time to shine. With a ton of talent in the back court, and plenty of size and depth on the front line, it'll be tough for defenses to key on any one player. And, a little less attention from defenders could really turn him into that All Conference player.

For a big man, Bo has great hands, and footwork that is perhaps second to none when it comes to bigs in Conference USA. So, with a little added size, a little extra help at other positions on the court, and a ton of hard work, John Bohannon just might be in for that breakout year. We'll just have to wait and see.

One thing is for sure though. Like the rest of the players on this talented Miners' squad, Bo has his sights set extremely high. And, not for himself, but for his team as a whole:

"What kind of expectations do you have for this season?"

"NCAA Tournament. Winning the conference. That's what I think about every year. It escaped me my freshman year by that much...and I know you might not get that opportunity ever again. So every time we go out there I just leave it on the floor, and hopefully we make it to the NCAA tournament."

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