Basketball practice starts in less than a month, and the Miners have a new collection of players who will have to carve out their roles during the upcoming grueling month of practice in the Foster-Stevens Center.
Here are the roles I think guys will play this coming season, and look at some possible rotation and lineup mixes.
Dominic Artis, Point guard, Go-to-guy, leader
Stud, go-to-guy, all-conference candidate? Dominic Artis could be expected to be UTEP's top scorer, rebounder, and do it all while running the show at point guard. UTEP will need a big year from the senior if the Miners want to be competitive.
Omega Harris, Combo Guard, Go-to-guy, dead eye shooter, leader
Harris took a big step production wise in his sophomore year. He increased his scoring average by six points from his freshman year to sophomore year, and also drastically increased his shooting percentages. Harris will now be a top scoring option, and consistency will be a mark Harris will look to achieve in his junior year.
Terry Winn, Forward, Go-to-guy, inside scorer, leader
Winn burst onto the scene last season scoring 10 points per game, and led UTEP in rebounding marking the fifth highest rebounding total by a UTEP freshman in school history. With Winn expected to play more of a small forward role, a developing jumper could be an added weapon to Winn's arsenal of tough play, ability to get to the rim, and hopefully improve his free throw percentages as well.
Matt Willms, Center, Rim protector, rebounder, leader
Willms is coming off a major foot injury, and his minutes will be something to watch early on this season. Willms will be asked to protect the paint, and be one of, or UTEP's top rebounder. His scoring numbers have been around five points per game in his two full seasons, something UTEP will need to see increase in his junior season.
Kelvin Jones, Center, Physical enforcer in the paint, rebounder
We don't know what we're going to get offensively out of Jones, but his size and physical presence is a welcoming addition to the UTEP front court. His offensive game could still be very raw, but his willingness to rebound, and do the dirty work in the paint could be the first signs of life from Jones in his rookie year.
Paul Thomas, Forward, Scorer, rebounder, perimeter defender
The guy who could be projected by most fans to have the biggest overall improvement could be Paul Thomas. The former four-star prospect will more than likely see his minutes increase, and hopefully his scoring production rises as well. Confidence, and overall growth in his athletic ability will hopefully take his game to the next level of consistent production and defensive improvement.
Trey Touchet, Combo guard, Knock down shooter, facilitator, scorer off the bench
Touchet showed flashes of very good last season, but also had plenty of freshman moments. Expected to back-up either Dominic Artis or Omega Harris as a combo guard, Touchet is another young player who could make a big production jump with increased experience and minutes this season. Something that will be welcoming is a nice 7-to-10 point scoring average off the bench this season.
Jake Flaggert, Forward/Guard, Perimeter defender, knock down shooter
Flaggert was the Miners 3-and-D specialist off the bench last season, and drew 18 charges in 31 games. Shooting 41.7 percent last year, it will be interesting to see Flaggert's growth now in his fourth year in the program. Another player who if he scores off the bench makes this UTEP team so much better.
Deon Barrett, Point guard, Shooter, steady ball handler
Ah, finally a freshman, and I think Deon Barrett could be a good one. His minutes could come off the bench backing up Artis, Harris, or Touchet, but Barrett has shown the skills in his high school career to execute the little things that help bring wins. Early on, his outside shot could be a consistent weapon, while he adjusts to the speed and roles the coaching staff asks.
Adrian Moore, Guard, Defender, scorer
Handing out roles to this freshman class is tough, but like Barrett, Moore could make small impacts in different ways. If Moore can defend, and rebound, he will see minutes out of some depth needs in the backcourt. If he can find his shot, and can get to the rim/free throw line often, UTEP could have a productive freshman come off the bench that could help replace some scoring from Earvin Morris and Lee Moore who have moved on.
Tim Cameron, Guard, Defender, open floor/speed threat, slasher
Cameron is another freshman who has the physical tools, but how quickly can he adapt to producing at the D-1 level is the biggest question. His athletic ability will help on the defensive end in some matchups, and his ability to fly in the open court will be fun to watch as he grows his overall game.
Chris Barnes, Guard, Defender, slasher
You get the theme from these athletic freshman guards? I have a feeling early on these guys will be asked to defend before they’re asked to score. Barnes is another good athlete who can easily adapt to the speed of the D-1 game, but what can he bring offensively could be a factor in his minutes down the road this season.
Isiah Osborne, Guard/Forward, Scorer, rebounder, slasher**
There's an asterisk by Osborne since we don't know his current eligibility status. The physicality of the D-1 game could be his main early adjustment, but his smooth scoring abilities could be a major impact if and when he's cleared to play. Osborne could be Earvin Morris' production replacement, plus he did put up some good rebounding numbers in Canada that might be able to translate here at the D-1 level.
First off the bench——Touchet
Omega Harris could be in this group too at times, but these three guys will be UTEP's main ball handlers no matter the lineup mix. Barrett could also earn his way into playing more minutes as the season moves along with the potential intangibles he could develop.
First off the bench——Touchet/Osborne*
Situational/Defense matchup——-Moore/ Cameron/Flaggert
UTEP’s guard rotation could be limited to just four, or maybe five. Flaggert could move between the 2&3 based on matchups, and Moore and Cameron figure to fight for the third option off the bench.
First off the bench——-Flaggert
Situational/Matchup——Paul Thomas, Isiah Osborne*
Three guard lineup guard-----Flaggert, Touchet, Osborne, Moore, Cameron
We could see Flaggert start at SF, and Winn start at PF in some games, but based off Winn’s rapid weight loss you figure he will see most of his time out on the wing and also at minimum play 30 minutes per game barring any foul trouble. UTEP will certainly use three guard lineup at times, so this spot could be interchangeable as the season and practices go on.
First off the bench——Winn, Flaggert
Three guard lineup forward----Terry Winn, Jake Flaggert, Paul Thomas
This is another interesting spot if UTEP goes back to a traditional lineup, but it appears the Miners will have some guard heavy lineups to play with. Thomas has been in the weight room this summer which one could figure it's to be able to play a traditional power forward even though he has stretch four skills.
First off the bench——Kelvin Jones
If Willms stays healthy, UTEP has depth at center in terms of big bodies who can help protect the rim. Jones is still a developing prospect, but for the first time in a few seasons UTEP could have a seven-footer in their lineup mix who can provide some type of presence or muscle (Jones) in the middle on either end of the floor.