The Big Picture – UTEP Basketball Loading Up with Talent
Rodney Terry has been a busy man since he first arrived in El Paso two months ago. He inherited a UTEP men's basketball team with only four scholarship players returning and nine more to offer prospective recruits. So far, he has made the most of his opportunities.
Anthony Tarke became the second player in as many days to commit to Terry and the Miners. The 6'6 swingman played last season at New Jersey Institute of Technology, where he averaged a team leading 15.7 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. Yesterday afternoon, 6'10 center Kaosi Ozeagu signed with UTEP and will have four years of eligibility beginning this season. Those two join Efe Odigie, Nigel Hawkins, and Deon Stroud as new members of the UTEP basketball team. Terry has targeted six players and Isaac Likekele is the only one not to sign with the Miners. He chose Oklahoma State last Friday. However, UTEP has signed five players over the last two months who were offered by Maryland, South Carolina, Virginia Tech, San Jose State, UNLV, San Diego State, and Grand Canyon.
If you take a close look at the current UTEP roster, the team has eight players eligible for the 2018--19 season. Odigie, Hawkins, Stroud, and Ozeagu join senior forward Paul Thomas, junior guard Isiah Osborne, and sophomore guards Evan Gilyard and Kobe Magee. There is still the possibility of Terry signing one or more graduates to play for the Miners this season. Other players could walk-on with the appeal of instant playing time to help fill out the roster. Tarke will have to sit out the 2018-19 campaign, but he will have two years of eligibility beginning in 2019. That is when the fun really starts for Miner fans.
Thomas is the lone player that will not be back in year two of Rodney Terry's Miners. However, Odigie and Ozeagu will be sophomores, Tarke will be a junior, and UTEP still has four more scholarships to fill. Former Fresno State forward Bryson Williams announced he was leaving the program after Terry left the Bulldogs for the Miners. Williams was second on the team averaging 13.8 points and 6.1 rebounds in 32 starts for Fresno. He also shot a ridiculous 60-percent from the field. If Williams continues to follow Terry to El Paso and sit out this season, he will join Tarke and give UTEP two impact juniors on the 2019-20 roster. The Miners could still target more Division 1 transfers and load up for Terry's second season. Another option could be to hold one or more scholarships for 2019, so UTEP has more flexibility for the fall recruiting season. Regardless, the excitement is back at UTEP and hoops fans can hardly wait for Terry Time to begin at the Don Haskins Center.