There seems to be a new era with the UTEP basketball team.
Six newcomers are expected to see their first action as UTEP Miners this coming season, mixed with six who have seen extensive time before, and two red-shirts who have high breakout potential.
Defense and rebounding production seems to always be key with a Tim Floyd coached team, but for the first time under Floyd the Miners might have some offensive fire power that we haven't seen in the Don in quite a while.
Here is a projected depth chart heading into the season preparation which will start the first week of October.
Dominic Artis could become UTEP's next top pro prospect, and will be straw that stirs the UTEP drink of success this coming season.
His strength, speed, and ability to knock down the outside jumper are much needed qualities that will be added into UTEP's back court, but Artis could also increase some front court production with the way he is able to breakdown a defense and create for others.
Once Omega Harris is eligible, he would be the second ball handler, but I don't think playing time will come easy for O once he is cleared for return. He has some making up to do if it is not already being done, but there is no denying the impact an Omega Harris/Dominic Artis led back court could accomplish in C-USA.
Earvin Morris will also handle the ball on occasion, and being that he is the most experienced returner in the back court I would see Earv as being that main second ball handler until Omega returns.
Lee Moore is in the same boat as Morris, as both will be combo guards, and also help with ball handling.
Interesting to see where Trey Touchet fits in at point guard, or if he will be used more off ball.
The thing to watch most is can Touchet create his shot, or is that aspect of his game still a work in progress. His basketball IQ should be advanced with a year of mental learning under his belt and to me his breakout potential in the early OCC portion of the schedule should be high.
The point guard position appears to be solidified with Artis, but there is a reason UTEP has recruited so many guards in the last two classes, the Miners finally have legit ball handling depth.
Omega Harris-Reserve/Starter/Big Minute Getter
Josh McSwiggan-Reserve/Big Minute Getter
Jake Flaggert-Reserve/Big Minute Getter
The recurring theme while breaking down UTEP's possible rotation is depth, and at the 2/3 positions, depth looks plentiful.
Earvin Morris could have an even better year than last season, possibly knocking on the door of some all C-USA mention. Morris could also have more offensive freedom, thus enhancing the possibility of increased scoring production and the increased threat of the three point ball being a strong point for UTEP.
Lee Moore could have Earvin Morris type numbers from last year this coming season. A perfect mix in UTEP's gallery of guards, getting to the free throw, and efficient effectiveness from behind the three point line could be Moore's early role's as he adjusts to the D-1 level.
Josh McSwiggan and Jake Flaggert will more than likely battle for reserve minutes, and will be a good everyday matchup in practice. McSwiggan maybe further along after playing internationally this summer while Flaggert rehabbed an injury.
Flaggert looked very much improved during preseason practice last year in terms of his shooting and decision making, and should be a big part of the rotation out on the wing this season.
Tevin Caldwell and Trey Touchet should not be forgotten out of this group. Caldwell could become a defensive specialist, while Touchet could be a three-point specialist and extra ball handler.
The added depth UTEP has now because of recruiting could lead to some different lineups, and the most intriguing is having 6'9 forward's Brodricks Jones and Paul Thomas matching up at the three from time to time.
Playing with matchups is something we all know Tim Floyd will do early in the season, and having two stretch forwards with guard skills will be something interesting to watch develop as far as lineup mix-ups goes with Jones, and Thomas.
This group has the most intriguing battle for minutes as practice gears up.
Paul Thomas-Starter/Reserve/Big Minute Getter
Brodricks Jones-Starter/Reserve/Big Minute Getter
Terry Winn-Reserve/Big Minute Getter
Matt Willms-Questionable Status
Hooper Vint will play the most minutes he has ever played in a season this year, and has Cedrick Lang's shoes to fill in terms of production and overall toughness. He may not need to average a double-double, though it would be nice, but at 6'11, 235, Vint has to become a physical force for UTEP.
Thomas and Jones will provide UTEP with versatile stretch fours, who could become consistent scorers, but rebounding might dictate minutes at least early on in the season between the uber talented forwards.
Terry Winn looks like he has worked hard on his frame, and looks like an FBS linebacker.
Winn could man an enforcer role, with rebounding, dirty work on the blocks, and getting to the line as his early forte's as he develops his overall game with game time minutes.
The big question here is how healthy, and how far has Matt Willms been cleared for the 2015-16 season.
Wilms did tweet that he has been cleared, but sources say his full return is still unknown.
Which leads to Christian Romine's role.
If Wilms is indeed clear to play, it would make sense to red-shirt Romine, but at the same time I feel Romine can help this team with toughness in the paint which is greatly needed for C-USA play. If Willms is out and has to miss some time, throw Romine into the Big Minute Getter role for 2015-16.
UTEP was known for being a tough defensive team inside with Lang being the solid wall that he was, but how does UTEP sustain that identity with this group remains to be seen and it is the biggest question out of this group.
Miner Rush Projected starting lineup