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McBride & Lewis: Getting to know this year’s transfers for men’s basketball

McBride & Lewis: Getting to know this year’s transfers for men’s basketball

McBride & Lewis: Getting to know this year’s transfers for men’s basketball
December 05
11:00 2020

Heading into the 2020-21 season, North Texas men’s basketball added five new players to last season’s Conference USA champion squad. Two junior college transfers in junior guard Mardrez McBride and junior forward Terence Lewis II will look to make an immediate impact as part of the top-ranked recruiting class in C-USA, according to Rivals.

In joining the Mean Green, both players arrive at their third school in three years and have each taken unique journeys to end up at North Texas.

Holding no Division I scholarship offers coming out of Butler High School in Augusta, Georgia, McBride began his collegiate career at McCook Community College. He averaged 14.1 points and 4.3 rebounds per game during his freshman year at McCook before transferring to the University of South Carolina-Salkehatchie, where he posted averages of 14.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game as a sophomore.

In transferring to North Texas, McBride said joining a team with a winning culture was a big motivation for him. Coming off a C-USA regular-season title last season, the Mean Green was an ideal fit in that regard.

“Those guys, they won last year, so they know what it takes,” McBride said. “I’m just soaking in the knowledge they’ve given me and putting it towards my game, trying to gel myself into the way they play so we can win another conference title.”

In the Mean Green’s Nov. 26 season opener against Mississippi Valley State University, McBride scored 21 points to tie with senior guard James Reese for the team lead in scoring. A 52.9 percent 3-point shooter at USC-Salkehatchie, the 6-foot-2 guard showed his shooting prowess against MVSU in knocking down six 3-pointers on the night.

After the MVSU game, head coach Grant McCasland said it was nice to see McBride play so well in his debut for North Texas, especially with the difficulties he experienced early on in adjusting to the team.

“Honestly, his transition has been difficult,” McCasland said. “ It has been a lot of learning and some tough moments in practices and scrimmages. So, for him to be able to come out here in our first game and make some shots and have some confidence, it’s encouraging that he got a chance to see that.”

In addition to his shooting ability, McBride brings energy on both ends of the floor which McCasland said will help spark the team.

“Drez has a very aggressive approach to the game,” McCasland said. “One area I think people will see initially is just his energy level and how he competes.  He can get deflections, he can get to the rim and finish. It’ll be fun to see him go out there and add a spark to this team that already has some athletic perimeter players, but he even adds another level to that because of his length and his size at the guard spot.”

Beginning his collegiate basketball career at Florida Southwestern State University, Lewis averaged 9.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game as a freshman. He then transferred to New Mexico Junior College and had a breakout sophomore season there, averaging 18.9 points and 9.3 rebounds per game and being named a 2020 NJCAA All-American after the season.

The 6-foot-7 forward attributed his breakout sophomore season to increased confidence after adjusting to a faster pace of play his freshman year.

“I gained a lot of confidence,” Lewis said. “Just talking to the coaches periodically on what I should work on and really gaining a lot of confidence. And the players around me were very helpful […] just teaching me points that I really needed to know about the game.”

Coming into the season, McCasland said Lewis’ biggest asset is his ability to score around the basket, but the team is trying to help him develop a 3-point shot as well.

“The one thing about Terrance is that his basketball goes in the hole,” McCasland said. “I mean, he can score. […] The one area we’ve tried to stretch him is his ability to make threes, and he’s bought into the work that it takes. I don’t know if we’ll actually see that happen in games early in the season, but that’s where we want our team to be able to go.”

After posting four points and two assists in his debut against MVSU, Lewis led North Texas in scoring with 12 points in its loss to Arkansas, adding four rebounds and three steals. He also made his first 3-pointer for the Mean Green against Arkansas, having made three of eight career 3-point attempts at his past two schools.

In evaluating the newcomers, McCasland said the first two months are difficult in transitioning to the team, but he expects the two transfers to improve as the season goes on and become key contributors.

“One thing I can say about these guys is that they’ll improve, much like the guys did last year,” McCasland said. “Javion Hamlet, Thomas Bell, James Reese, those guys just got better as the year went on. […] So, they may not be great right out of the gate, but they will be by the end of the season.”

Featured Images: Zachary Thomas, Mean Green Sports

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John Fields

John Fields

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