A Deeper Look Into UTEP Men’s Basketball Recruiting
Although UTEP basketball season is still three months away from the first practice of the 2014-15 season, the men’s basketball program took a hit last week. Freshman Mar’Qywell Jackson, a 6-5 guard from Detroit left the Miners because he was homesick. The fourth best player in the state of Michigan, Jackson was one of seven players that head coach Tim Floyd had recruited for the upcoming season. However, it only took four weeks for him to decide that El Paso was not the right place for him. It was a little surprising for Jackson to claim he was homesick, since his cousin is UTEP teammate Vince Hunter. Already, the Miners have lined up Jackson's potential replacement as The Oregonian reported that 6-6 all-state guard Victor Sanders could be signing a financial agreement to come and play at UTEP. He has lined up a visit on August 3rd.
Since Tim Floyd first arrived in El Paso, he has signed 27 high school and junior college players to National Letters of Intent and brought two other Prop 48 players into school. Of those 29 players, 12 are currently on the UTEP roster. Coach Floyd went guard heavy with his seven scholarships for this season, since he only had one guard on scholarship from his 2013-14 team. However, he has already lost both Jackson and highly regarded Southern California signee Chris Sandifer. The latter is a highly regarded guard from Southern California, but he has yet to qualify academically for college. Before Miner fans push the panic button, there are a couple of major factors involved with college basketball recruiting that many are not aware of.
There is an obscene amount of college transfers each season, including 600 from 2013-14. In fact, 40% of all college freshman basketball players are leaving within the first year and a half. The reason most players decide to leave is a lack of playing time. Instead of trying to beat out a player for their starting job or valuable minutes off the bench, a freshman or incoming player might not want to compete. That is a big reason why some recruits wish to transfer after as little as a summer session on campus. Grades are another huge reason why so many players do not make a college basketball roster. UTEP has gambled with top high school prospects that might not have the grades to get into a Top 25 program. These players are high risk, high reward, but the Miner coaching staff has already reaped the benefits with guys like Julian Washburn and Vince Hunter.
The Miners still have plenty of new recruits that are expected to make a difference this upcoming season. Guys like Omega Harris, Earvin Morris, and Terry Winn could be huge foundation pieces to the future of the UTEP program. After his coaching job last season, all Tim Floyd needs are a few breaks to go his way, and he will be able to deliver the promise that he made to Miner fans when he was hired more than four years ago; bring the UTEP men’s basketball program back to national prominence.