The Hilltoppers have proven to be a nice addition to Conference-USA in football and other fall sports and men's basketball should be an even better fit. WKU enters with a great hoops tradition, having a Final Four to brag about in 1971 and seven NCAA Tournament appearances since 2000. Last year's squad came up just shy of dancing for their 3rd year in a row after losing to UL Lafayette in the Sun Belt semifinals by 1 point. Even without dancing last year, Hilltopper seniors T.J. Price and George Fant have 2 NCAA Tourney appearances that they can hang over the head of other highly touted C-USA seniors like Speedy Smith and Julian Washburn.
Western Kentucky's returning senior leading scorer makes our list of top impact players at #3. T.J. Price has led the Hilltoppers in offense the past two seasons with an average just over 15 points per game. Last year Price's total scoring remained the same, but he became more efficient from the field. The 6'4 swingman is a threat from beyond the arc and a pretty good rebounder as well.
Fant and Price will provide WKU with leadership and a nice balance. While many other teams in the conference are stacked either in the frontcourt or backcourt, the Hilltoppers, like the Miners, will have more balanced talent spread out on the floor. We'll also see one of the juiciest sub-plots of the year when Western Kentucky plays Louisiana Tech, as the Louisiana product T.J. Price turned down offers from Louisiana Tech, Tulane, and even LSU. Price, Fant, and the rest of the Hilltoppers begin their season today at home against Austin Peay before taking on Minnesota on the road Tuesday night. We should find out pretty soon how good the Hilltoppers can be.