Basketball practice for the 2017-18 season starts Monday, and it’s time for UTEP to start piecing together a band of newcomers, and a returning core that brings proven production.
Here are four things practice could mold over the next month before the regular season tips off.
Who mixes in at point guard?
UTEP’s biggest question is who replaces Dominic Artis at point guard.
Freshmen Kobe Magee and Evan Gilyard have ways to go, but figure to battle for the starting spot during practices. Tim Floyd has repeatedly said he’s isn’t scared to play freshman, but we’ll see how much that holds up with the addition of Keith Frazier which will give UTEP plenty of guard options.
Gilyard’s shoulder injury is the wildcard, as its unknown on whether that will be an issue or if he’s fully recovered.
Trey Touchet and Omega Harris will also man the point at certain points, but finding someone who can facilitate, and get UTEP into a smooth offensive rhythm is key.
How will Keith Frazier fit in?
With a number of guards now on the roster, the question will be how does Keith Frazier fit into the mix?
Does he start? Come off the bench? Play a little point guard?
He’s a volume shooter, and volume scorer, and I’m thinking Frazier finds his way into the starting lineup early on in the season in order to build his confidence back from missing last season with an injury.
With Harris, Frazier, Touchet, Isaiah Osbourne, and Trey Wade all in the mix at shooting guard, this will be an interesting battle for minutes during the Miners October workouts.
Frazier will have to compete, and earn his minutes among a gallery of talented young guards.
Which newcomer breaks out?
Tirus Smith, Trey Wade, Keith Frazier, Isiah Osbourne, Magee, and Gilyard will be the main newcomers battling for minutes and rotation spots.
Smith figures to be a key reserve in UTEP’s frontcourt, and showed flashes of potential in UTEP’s Costa Rica Tour. His development over the season could be key in UTEP having elite depth down low.
UTEP needs immediate production from these newcomers which will certainly dictate how good this team will be in terms of wins and losses.
Are Matt Willms and Omega Harris ready for the spotlight?
Both Harris and Willms have been productive role players for majority of their careers, but will now be the centerpiece of what UTEP will do offensively.
Willms will be one of the top post players in C-USA, while Harris is one of C-USA’s most productive returning guards.
They both have tons of experience, and showed flashes of major production last season as juniors. Showing they are certainly ready for the major leap as being labeled senior leaders.
The most exciting thing about this season is watching both become stars after the adversity both have faced during their UTEP careers.