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Sophomore forward Combs having breakout year for men’s basketball

Sophomore forward Combs having breakout year for men’s basketball

North Texas sophomore forward Jeremy Combs dunks against Western Kentucky University. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

Sophomore forward Combs having breakout year for men’s basketball
February 12
09:08 2016

Torie Mosley | Staff Writer

@toriemosley

Despite North Texas men’s basketball’s sluggish start after losing seven of its last 10 games, the Mean Green has seen consistent elite play from its star player all year.

Sophomore forward Jeremy Combs is averaging a double-double with 15.5 points and 10.6 rebounds a game this season, thanks to his aggressive ball skills and speed up and down the court.

While he is one of the team’s two captains, he isn’t known for talking about his own accomplishments.

“I’m feeling good [about season start],” Combs said. “But hopefully I can get even better.”

Combs has started all 24 games for North Texas so far this season while dominating on both sides of the ball.

North Texas sophomore forward celebrates after a dunk against Idaho University. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

North Texas sophomore forward celebrates after a dunk against Idaho University. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

In averaging a double-double on the season, Combs posted a seven-game double-double streak that lasted a month and ended just last week in the 70-54 home stomping of Southern Miss.

He was only one rebound away from extending the streak, had head coach Tony Benford not pulled Combs in the final minute with the game already out of hand.

Losing the streak didn’t upset Combs that much. Before a practice this week, he laughed when remembering getting taken out of the game to watch the streak slip away.

“I’m not going to lie, I knew I was one [rebound] away,” Combs said. “I didn’t want to say anything because there was one minute left and I didn’t want to look selfish. I’ll just get the streak started again.”

Sophomore guard Greg White-Pittman bursted out laughing next to Combs when he mentioned the moment. The two joined the Mean Green roster together as members of last year’s recruiting class, and the guard said Combs’ effort makes him want to play at his best.

“The best thing about Jeremy is he works hard,” White-Pittman said. “He doesn’t really take plays off, so you never have to worry about his effort.”

North Texas sophomore forward Jeremy Combs (1) pump fakes the defender then goes up for a layup against Louisiana Tech. Nathan Roberts | Contributing Photographer

North Texas sophomore forward Jeremy Combs (1) pump fakes the defender then goes up for a layup against Louisiana Tech. Nathan Roberts | Staff Photographer

Benford also found humor in forgetting about the stat line when he took Combs out of the game after North Texas had a comfortable lead late in the game.

“I did not know,” Benford said. “If I was aware of it I would have put him back in to go get another rebound.”

The fourth year Mean Green coach said it’s been a joy to coach Combs.

“When you have a guy like that, you really appreciate it because he gives you 100 percent every day,” Benford said.

Graduate forward Eric Katenda echoed White-Pittman’s thoughts about Combs’ effort, saying it makes it easier for him when fighting opponents off the board in the paint.

“I feel like I don’t have to worry about every board because he goes after every board,” Katenda said. “We had a couple we really had to fight for the ball. Sometimes I’m like, ‘Box a dude out for once.’ But there’s not really that much to complain about.”

Katenda added Combs’ attitude adds a level of excitement to go out on the court with him every night.

“He’s the ultimate junkyard dog,” Katenda said. “He’s going after every rebound and loose ball. His motor doesn’t stop, and that’s what we all respect him for.”

Katenda has roomed with Combs since joining North Texas this season, and while Combs is relatively soft-spoken in public, Katenda said he talks a lot more than the media and Mean Green faithful think.

“He’s pretty cool, but he doesn’t shut up,” Katenda said. “He’s always trying to tell you what he knows more than you – but I just brush it off and say, ‘Okay, you won’.”

The camaraderie Combs has with his teammates and coaches is helping keep North Texas together in the middle of a 9-15 season. But on the court, Benford said Combs has excelled in taking over as the face of Mean Green men’s basketball.

“There’s not many guys in college that have a motor and enjoy playing,” Benford said. “He’s a great representative of what we want our program to be all about.”

Featured Image: North Texas sophomore forward Jeremy Combs dunks against Western Kentucky University. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

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