North Texas Daily

Men’s basketball season preview: Strong senior class reloading for more

Men’s basketball season preview: Strong senior class reloading for more

Men’s basketball season preview: Strong senior class reloading for more
November 23
20:48 2020

North Texas men’s basketball is set to begin their season-opening games at the Super Pit playing Mississippi Valley State Thursday evening. Facing schedule changes and new formatting to Conference USA’s protocols, North Texas plays six non-conference games and open a 14-game conference schedule on New Year’s Day.

The North Texas Daily sports staff preview their thoughts and opinions of the 2020-21 season for the men’s team.

Coming off a regular-season C-USA title at (20-11, 14-4 C-USA) in 2019-20, North Texas looks to avenge a season where the team was the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament and had hopes of making an NCAA tournament bid. Head coach Grant McCasland as the C-USA Coach of the Year brings back C-USA Player of the Year senior guard Javion Hamlet, including two other starters in senior guard James Reese and senior forward Zachary Simmons.

The men’s team lost three seniors from last season and then-sophomore Umoja Gibson, who transferred to Oklahoma during the offseason. To fill in the vacancies, McCasland signed two junior college transfers in junior forward Terence Lewis II (New Mexico Junior College) and junior guard Madrez McBride (USC Salkehatchie). Three high school signees will get their first action freshman guard in Rubin Jones (Yates High School, Houston) and Mykell Robinson (Sunrise Christian Academy, Bel Aire, Kan.), including forward Abou Osmane (Scotland Performance Institute, Chambersburg, Pa.).

LEADING RETURNING PLAYER STATISTICS FROM 2019-20

Points Per Game:  Javion Hamlet (14.6)

Rebounds Per Game: Thomas Bell (5.8)

Assists Per Game: Javion Hamlet (4.7)

Field Goal Percentage: Zachary Simmons (.634)

Free Throw Percentage: James Reese (.958)

Steals Per Game: James Reese (1.0)

Blocks Per Game: Zachary Simmons (0.7)

PRESEASON PREDICTIONS 

“I think the loss of forward Deng Geu from last season will have some significance, but if this year’s crop of recruitments can fill that role, it will give Hamlet and McCasland the right pieces to put together back-to-back C-USA titles.” -Jarrett Farley

Jarret’s Conference Record prediction: 12-6

“Men’s basketball returns three of five starters from last season’s C-USA regular-season champion squad, including its leading scorer and C-USA Player of the Year in senior guard Javion Hamlet. While replacing key contributors in Gibson and Geu will be tough, the two JUCO transfers in McBride and Lewis II look poised to contribute right away. Four key players will play a role in seniors guards Hamlet and Reese, as well as senior forwards Zachary Simmons and Thomas Bell. This is the year North Texas gets over the hump by winning the conference tournament and playing in the NCAA Tournament. Their biggest challenger in that pursuit will be Western Kentucky, so matchups between the two teams on Feb. 19 and 20 could decide the regular-season champ and top seed for the conference tournament.” -John Fields

John’s Conference Record prediction: 15-3

“I think the men’s basketball team can compete for the conference championship again this winter. They’re coming off a solid offseason where they picked up some big recruits as well. This is a team that’s going to compete for years to come.” -Milo Mihaltses

Milo’s Conference Record prediction: 13-5

“I think under McCasland and a few returning starters last season, North Texas is in good hands. Bringing back Hamlet and the other two starters will help play a role in the experience of a young team. The departures will be missed from last year but the signing class of freshmen and junior college transfers give the Mean Green a chance to bring back another regular-season C-USA title.” -Preston Rios

Preston’s Conference Record prediction: 13-5

“I think this is going to be another great year for them after winning the Conference USA regular-season title last year. They did lose some key players from graduating or transferring, I still think it will be some great things that come this season.” -Rachael Sanders

Rachael’s Conference Record prediction: 14-4

Featured Image: Redshirt senior guard Javion Hamlet looks for an open teammate against Louisiana Tech on Feb. 22, 2020. Image by Zachary Thomas

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Preston Rios

Preston Rios

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