As Bryson Williams Commits to Texas Tech, What’s Next for UTEP?
For weeks now, the UTEP men's basketball team knew that Bryson Williams would be taking his talents to the Power-5 level as a graduate transfer. The two-time All-Conference forward made his decision official on Sunday as Williams committed to Texas Tech.
"First off, I'd like to thank God for all of his blessings and for giving me the ability to play this game that I love, as well as my family, for supporting me with my dreams from day one," wrote Williams on social media. I'd also like to thank Arkansas, Georgia Tech, Texas and Washington for recruiting me. Your time and effort was greatly appreciated. Also, I want to thank all my former teammates at UTEP and everyone in the athletic department for the support they gave me during my time in El Paso. Offensively, I have proven what I can do against some of the best in the country throughout my collegiate career. However, I wanted to challenge myself in other areas and I needed someone I knew could help me with that. With that being said, I am excited to announce my decision to join the Red Raider basketball family, and to have the chance to play for Coach Adams. I enjoyed my visit earlier this week and had a great time getting to know all of the players and the rest of the coaching staff. I believe this will be the best fit for me, nevertheless I can't wait to get to work with the rest of the team. The Big 12 is the best conference in college basketball and I can't wait to play in front of Red Raider nation, the best fans in the country. Time to get to work... GunsUp... Wreck'Em."
There was an expectation that Texas would be a significant player in the sweepstakes for Williams. Former UTEP coach Rodney Terry is now the lead recruiter with the Longhorns as an assistant coach and Terry recruited Williams during this process to join him in Austin. But as Texas earned commitments from some big-name transfers, the opportunities for Williams started to fade.
There was also a long-shot dream that UTEP would be in play to try and retain Williams under new head coach Joe Golding. Despite great dialogue and a couple of weeks in offseason training, Williams still wanted to explore new options.
He chose to be a part of new Red Raiders head coach Mark Adams' inaugural recruiting class. Adams was named the head coach after previous Texas Tech coach Chris Beard took the Texas job in the offseason. As one of the most coveted transfers of the offseason, Williams was highly sought after by a ton of Power-5 and high major programs.
The 6-foot-8 forward was UTEP's best player in back-to-back seasons, finishing his junior campaign as the leading scorer (17.7 ppg) and earned all-conference honors during both years. He's coming off averaging 15.1 points and 7.4 rebounds in 2020-21. Williams first joined the Miners in 2018 as a transfer from Fresno State.
At Texas Tech, Williams will join a talented frontcourt with returning big man Marcus Santos-Silva and transfers KJ Allen and Daniel Batcho.
Back to UTEP for a minute. Of course, they expected that this was going to happen. But now the question is, how do they replace a talent like Williams?
First off, I don't expect the team to be as reliant as the team was on scorers like Williams and Souley Boum under coach Golding. I think the philosophy will be more balanced for scoring and the coaches seem like they will give opportunities to the hot hand at any given moment.
The Miners are set to return four of their five starters from last year—Boum, Jamal Bieniemy, Keonte Kennedy and Tydus Verhoeven. They need to continue to bolster their options at the forward position alongside Verhoeven. Golding and the squad earned the commitment from Georgetown forward Jamari Sibley last week, and the 6-foot-8 forward can definitely throw his name into the hat to try and earn the starting forward spot. Besides Sibley, the Miners have Ze'Rik Onyema and JUCO transfer Bonke Maring as a few other options. With a pair of scholarships remaining, maybe Golding goes after a forward with experience that can play right away.