With six newcomers, and six producing returners, UTEP has the unique chance to find out a lot about themselves while in Costa Rica.
Mix in some much needed depth at virtually every position, and the questions surrounding this team who is about who is here and can produce, rather than who left or didn’t make it.
A strong offseason headlined by a solid recruiting class makes this UTEP team an interesting one.
Here are five things that could be figured out in Costa Rica
How far have Paul Thomas, Matt Willms, and Omega Harris improved?
All three showed they have continued to expand their arsenal in Saturday’s scrimmage, now can they turn their production into all-conference caliber numbers?
Paul Thomas is expanding his shooting range behind the 3-point line, and his defensive footwork looks improved. Omega Harris will have the ball in his hands a lot more, and Willms is a focal point of UTEP’s post scoring attack.
Here’s a bold prediction: Harris will be one of C-USA’s leading scorers, and top playmakers this coming season.
These vets don’t have much to prove, but have areas of work in their game that can take this group as a whole to another level of toughness.
Will the freshman point guards have to score?
UTEP’s freshman guards Kobe Magee, and Evan Gilyard struggled to find a scoring rhythm Saturday. But will these two really need to score come the regular season?
There is no denying they simply had tough scoring games Saturday, but both showed positive point guard instincts in the open floor, and in the half court in where they can make huge impacts distributing, setting the tempo, and defending.
The curveball for Costa Rica is Evan Gilyard is dealing with a shoulder issue, so Magee will see a lot of minutes on the tour.
They have a lot of room to grow and improve, but scoring might not be a priority right away as they adjust to the D-1 game.
Can Trey Wade continue to star?
One of Saturday’s studs was the play of wing Trey Wade.
Wade has double digit scoring ability, and his motor defensively could develop into a relentless trait.
But can that much needed production consistently happen against new competition over the next week or so?
Wade has a lot characteristics that can translate into high-level scoring production from the wing in Tim Floyd’s system. He could also take some minutes away from some veterans if Wade continues to play like a guy who can become an instant star.
How much will the overall depth improve UTEP’s overall defensive and overall rebounding numbers?
UTEP now has depth in areas where the depth has been recently weak, but can that translate into being a solid rebound team?
Paul Thomas, Matt Willms, Kelvin Jones, Trey Wade, and Tirus Smith could all become factors on the glass in Costa Rica, and if it happens, that’s a really good sign.
Joey St. Pierre is very capable post player, but due to the depth, he could really benefit from a red-shirt year. Without Roderick Williams, can St. Pierre show he can help right away off the bench with the ability to rebound and give UTEP a physical post presence?
Not a bad problem to have if you’re Tim Floyd.
Will this team find an early identity?
Defense was not up to par Saturday, but the athleticism, shooting, scoring, and versatility of UTEP’s potential lineups showed itself Saturday.
Will that translate into a consistent identity that creates wins, and nice box scores in Costa Rica?
From a coaching standing point, finding a consistent identity before October could be very important, and this UTEP team could very well do that inside their returning players.