North Texas Daily

Column: This men’s basketball roster is finally McCasland’s

Column: This men’s basketball roster is finally McCasland’s

DENTON TEXAS, March 28: University of North Texas Mean Green Men’s Basketball v University of San Francisco at the Super Pit in Denton on March 28, 2018 (Photo Rick Yeatts Photography/Colin Mitchell)

Column: This men’s basketball roster is finally McCasland’s
April 18
12:56 2018

In a tidy 13 months after the hiring of Grant McCasland, all but two players from the disastrous Tony Benford era are no longer in the North Texas men’s basketball program. Now, McCasland has three players coming in who were redshirted last season, and with the recent transfers, he has a ton of flexibility in recruiting in an attempt to construct a team of his liking.

With the offseason shuffling complete, the process of resetting the North Texas men’s basketball team is just about done.

Sure, sophomore guard A.J. Lawson and junior guard Allante Holston were good role players last season, but for most of the season, they felt like filler pieces. McCasland was forced to put the square pegs in a round hole and did so effectively for a majority of the season.

It’s not fair to judge Lawson off of a season where he was injured and never felt comfortable in the system, but with those two moving on, along with redshirt sophomore Khalil Fuller, three of the bottom six players in player efficiency rating are gone. Lawson and Holston were borderline elite defensive players, and I raved throughout the season about their ability to guard opposing wings, but they simply could not score. Holston and Lawson ranked bottom two on the team in effective field goal percentage.

They were a large reason why the defense was ranked No. 95 in the country — up from No. 222 in the season prior — but Lawson wants and needs the ball on offense, and Holston is only effective catching with two feet in the paint.

McCasland thirsts for shooting, and he will have plenty next season.

The two remaining Benford players are sophomore guard Ryan Woolridge and redshirt sophomore guard DJ Draper, both of which will be juniors next season. Of the other 14 players from the 2016-17 roster, seven transferred and seven eventually finished their playing career with North Texas.

Finally, this team is all Grant McCasland. He loves Draper and Woolridge who were sixth and first in minutes played, respectively, and both of them contributed on both ends.

Now, let’s move onto next season. Even though no recruits have been formally announced, we know the team returning is already better than last year’s. At least on paper and at least when healthy.

Woolridge along with sophomore Roosevelt Smart and freshman Zachary Simmons are all locks to start. A fringe lock is redshirt freshman guard Umoja Gibson based on what he showed in the preseason and the first two games of the 2017 season.

The fifth spot will tell a lot about how McCasland wants this team to operate. If he starts junior guard Jorden Duffy, there will not be a lot of defense or size from that lineup. Truthfully, there are not a lot of defensive wings on this team as it is currently constructed, besides maybe redshirt sophomore Jahmiah Simmons.

But this roster is not done yet, not even close. McCasland only has ten players on the roster currently, so it’s safe to assume he will be bringing at least three or four more players. According to a source close to the team, we should know a lot more about recruits by the end of the week.

As I mentioned earlier, my expectation is a few versatile wings with size from high school or junior college since they are so guard heavy right now, but who knows. McCasland has already shown us he is more than capable of making something out of nothing, so just imagine when he gets a roster he crafted.

It’s a scary thought, but a thought which has reinvigorated the bloodline of basketball at North Texas.

Now that the transfers are out of the picture and nest season’s roster begins to gain clarity however McCasland chooses, the truth now stands directly in front of us.

The reset of the men’s basketball program is over. Thankfully, it’s time to win.

Featured image: University of North Texas Mean Green Men’s Basketball v University of San Francisco at the Super Pit in Denton on March 28, 2018 (Photo Rick Yeatts Photography/Colin Mitchell)

About Author

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune is the Senior Sports Writer for the North Texas Daily, covering football and men's basketball.

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1 Comment

  1. Michele
    Michele June 08, 06:06

    Players are used like a piece of property which is unfortunate!!! It’s all so POLITICAL!!!

    Reply to this comment

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