UTEP Men’s Basketball Recruiting Radar
Recruiting season is heating up for the UTEP men’s basketball team, as Rodney Terry and his staff are making the extra push for their 2018 recruiting class.
The last day for players to sign the National Letter of Intent is May 16, which means a swarm of offers and recruits coming to visit El Paso will likely take place in the coming weeks.
One thing is for sure, by the looks of the incoming recruits that Terry and staff are actively seeking out, this new coaching staff is aspiring high with certain players.
Here are the current recruits UTEP has on their board:
Efe Odigie (Center / 6-9 / 275)
Offers: UTEP, Fresno State, Texas State, Arkansas State
Status: Signed NLI
Miner fans should be happy that the first UTEP signee of 2018 will be center Efe Odigie. This man is a tank at 275-pounds and resembles a beefy big man like Cedrick Lang.
Coming out of Houston, Odigie played his high school basketball career with Pro Vision Academy before being recruited by Terry and staff to go to Fresno State. With the announcement of Terry being hired as the UTEP head coach, Odigie graciously followed the staff and is all set for his time here at UTEP.
The Miners will desperately need his inside presence down low, as the team ranked in the bottom three of the conference in both offensive and defensive rebounding categories. With center Matt Willms graduating and the announcement of Tirus Smith departing from the team, Odigie might be able to fill a necessary inside role immediately with the team.
Watch what the big man can do here.
Isaac Likekele (Guard / 6-4 / 195)
Mansfield, TX (Three-Star recruit)
Offers: Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, UTEP, Ole Miss, Marquette, Purdue, Fresno State
Status: On visit
Ranked in the top-10 of all Texas basketball recruits, Isaac Likekele told 24/7 Sports that he’s narrowed down his top three schools to Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and UTEP. Let’s just say, if UTEP were to beat out two Big 12 schools and snatch Likekele, it would be their best signee by far.
What makes Likekele so special is his hybrid ability at the guard spot, where he can shoot the ball well, drive to the paint or facilitate the ball. He’s coming off a 5A state title with Mansfield Timberview and was named MVP of the Whataburger Tournament in 2017.
Currently, he’s on his visit to El Paso, so Terry will have to recruit him hard to have him stay in El Paso. His priorities in choosing a school are playing time, which UTEP will likely offer him, and a family atmosphere, according to 24/7 Sports.
“I’ve been told a lot, that it’s a historic program and they’re the No. 1 Texas basketball school historically and all that, but other than that I don’t know too much about it so I’m going to go out there and see what it has to offer.”
-Likekele told 24/7 Sports.
Nigel Hawkins (Shooting Guard / 6-2 / 175)
Cypress Falls-Houston, TX (Three-Star recruit)
Offers: Va. Tech, Texas A&M, South Florida, Houston, Rice, UTEP
Status: On visit
Nigel Hawkins is another Texas state championship holder after he helped Cypress Falls win a 6A title. He’s ranked in the top-25 of all Texas guards and brings quickness, a good shot and strong defense to the table.
Texas A&M just offered Hawkins and he recently came back from visiting Virginia Tech, so the Miners are dealing with some hefty competition.
He’s currently joining Likekele on his official visit with the university. The simple pitch Terry has to throw at Hawkins is he will get substantial playing time in a guard-heavy system. Adding Hawkins can also strengthen UTEP’s scoring, which ranked dead last in C-USA last season at 67.5 points per game.
Neftali Alvarez (Guard / 6-1 / 175)
Miami Christian (Three-Star recruit)
Offers: Wichita State, Arkansas State, UTEP, Akron, Dayton, Colorado State, Ga. Tech
The Puerto Rican native in Neftali Alvarez is a highly sought out three-star recruit out of Florida who has yet to commit anywhere. He’s been recruited all over, with official visits from Akron, Wichita State and Arkansas State in the fall. However, he’s continued to hold back his official commit, possibly looking for a better opportunity.
I’m sure Terry would love to get Alvarez on a plane and fly him to El Paso and visit the school. Even former Miner hooper and Puerto Rican native Filiberto Rivera jumped on the train to help offer some words of advice to play at UTEP via Twitter.
Madiaw Niang (Small Forward / 6-9 / 200)
DME Sports Academy (Two-Star recruit)
Offers: FAU, Long Beach State, UTEP, FIU, Coastal Carolina
Coming out of Senegal, Madiaw Naing had a breakout senior season for DME Sports Academy as a multi-versed small forward. He’s dominant on transition plays, brings length that makes him tough defensively and has nice handles for a small forward.
His Twitter profile has been all UTEP as of late, so possibly Terry capitalized on this underrated international athlete. And hey, the athletic department is widely known for taking in international students and breeding them through the diverse UTEP system.