UTEP Basketball Fans Have No Reason to Panic
UTEP men's basketball fans have suffered plenty over the last few seasons. When Rodney Terry was hired by Jim Senter in March and he was left with a roster of only four scholarship players, fans started to fear for the worst. Then, the team hosted a pair of prized recruits and both left town without committing to the Miners. I started receiving texts from UTEP fans who were pushing the panic button and questioning the ability of the new coaching staff to attract talent to El Paso.
Suddenly one of the players who visited the campus this past weekend committed to Coach Terry. Nigel Hawkins is a three-star guard from Houston who chose the Miners over Texas A&M, Houston, Virginia Tech, and other quality Division 1 programs. Isaac Likekele, who visited UTEP with Hawkins, will travel to Lubbock and visit Texas Tech next. Even though the Red Raiders have one of the top up and coming programs in college basketball, Likekele still has the Miners in his top three. He also had signed with Coach Terry at Fresno State which could still give UTEP the edge over Tech.
Currently, the Miners have two players who have signed during the late period, Hawkins and 6'9 forward Efe Odigie. Although they still have seven scholarships left to offer, Coach Terry and his staff are in no hurry to fill the spots. This late signing period lasts forever, nearly until the start of the fall semester. Over the next few months, more players will be announcing their decision to transfer from other D1 programs. The list of graduate transfers continues to grow, and UTEP could add multiple players who would play the 2018-19 season in a Miner uniform. I would love to see two or three grad transfers for next season, since it would free up those scholarships for 2019 and the potential of more four-year players being signed in November.
It is impossible to forecast what the UTEP men's basketball team will look like when they take the court for the first time in the next six months. My best guess is that they will have a mix of high school signees, junior college players with two or three years of eligibility, Division 1 transfers, and a few grad transfers. I would also expect Coach Terry to redshirt a few of his players to ensure that he will have a stacked roster for the 2019-20 season. His coaching staff has terrific ties to Texas and they are not afraid to battle the top programs in Division 1. It is so cliche, but trust the process Miner fans and give the new regime an opportunity to transform the UTEP roster into a winner and deliver on the postseason promise that fans have been waiting for nearly a decade.