Bracket Analysis of the 64-Man All-Time UTEP Players Part 1
Glory Road Region
MVP - Jim "Bad News" Barnes (1962-64)
What more can you say about one of the all-time best Texas Western players to ever step on the floor? Jim "Bad News" Barnes was a phenom on the floor, averaging Wilt Chamberlin-like numbers at the college level—24 points, 17.9 rebounds per game on 54 percent shooting. After helping lead the Miners to their first NCAA Tournament appearance, Barnes followed up with a special group in 1964 that also made the tournament. Head coach Don Haskins called it his second-best group that had a chance to win a title but Barnes fouled out in the semifinal round against Kansas State, which bounced them out of the tournament. He holds the school record for points in a game when he hung 51 points against Western New Mexico. Barnes became the first pick in the 1964 NBA Draft to the New York Knicks following his Texas Western career.
Biggest Sleeper - Jeep Jackson (1984-87)
This one is a tough one. Aside from Jeep Jackson getting a ton of fan votes, Bobby Joe Hill could streak into the final rounds too. However, the way Jackson is heralded by UTEP fans, he takes the spot as the biggest dark horse candidate in this bracket. He drove UTEP to 101 victories, four NCAA Tournament bids and four WAC regular-season titles. His body of work shined in the superb mid-80s UTEP teams prior to his tragic passing on May 2, 1987.
Best overall basketball career - Jim Barnes
An Olympic gold medalist and the number one pick in the NBA Draft. Does it get any better than that? After his Texas Western Career, Jim Barnes was selected as a member of the 1964 U.S. men's Olympic basketball team coached by Henry Iba. He was the top field goal shooter on the team at 53 percent, as the team beat USSR (73-59) and won the Gold Medal. During his first year with the Knicks, he was named to the 1965 NBA All-Rookie Team and averaged 15.5 points and 9.7 rebounds. He averaged a double-double with the Knicks and the Bullets from 1964-66 until he was damaged with achilies injuries. Barnes helped the Celics win the 1969 NBA Championship as a backup to Bill Russell.
Did you know? Charlie Brown helps break the color barrier in 1956
Texas Western standout Charlie Brown (1956-59) and his brother Cecil were the first African American players to compete in a major sport at a major university in the south. And boy, Charlie was a stud on the court. He scored 1,170 points in 67 games en route to becoming a three-time All-Borderland Conference selection. As a 6-foot-1 guard, Charlie averaged 8.6 rebounds throughout his career. His successes in the 50s led him to a UTEP Hall of Fame recognition in 2014.
Remember when? Antoine Gillespie put 45 in a loss against Hawaii (Feb. 17, 1994)
For a guy that never had a shot at the WAC title or playing in an NCAA Tournament game, Antoine Gillespie was an absolute force for the Miners. Through his best season in 1993-94, Gillespie averaged almost 24 points per game and when he met the Rainbow Warriors, he unleashed a scoring frenzy. Although the Miners lost 104-103, Gillespie put up a whopping 45 points and grabbed six boards. It wasn't unusual though. Gillespie scored 37 against VCU in the 1992 Sun Carnival Classic too.
Overrated? Dominic Artis (2015-17)
While Dominic Artis was the last really soid point guard UTEP had on their team, a 12-seed might be a bit too high for the Oregon transfer on the all-time list. His best year was his senior season (2016-17) when he averaged 15.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg and 5.8 apg. Artis was truly an all-around point guard and involved himself everywhere on the floor but his teams struggled to find success on the floor winning games. Perhaps being the fourth player in C-USA history—first at UTEP—to have 400 points, 150 rebounds, 150 assists and 50 steals in a season gives him enough of an argument to be a top-50 UTEP player all-time? I still say he's a step below that.
Just missed it - Ed Haller (1954-56)
Some of the old school Texas Western players were omitted from this list and Ed Haller is a prime example. Through back-to-back seasons, Haller averaged 16.4 points and 12.2 rebounds for the Miners. He led the Miners to third and second-place finishes in the Borderland Conference through 1955 and 1956, respectively.
Best highlight - Bobby Joe Hill (1966)
Bobby Joe Hill was really a walking highlight reel for the Miners in their 1966 National Championship run. He was far ahead of his time and in today's game, he could have been a basketball superstar.
Texas Western Region
MVP - Nate "Tiny" Archibald (1967-70)
There's something extra special about the under-the-radar point guard specialist that was Nate "Tiny" Archibald. He was one of the most skilled point guards in Texas Western history and translated his skills at a high level in the NBA. He was a 20 ppg career scorer on a 51 percent shooting clip, while leading the Miners to the 1970 NCAA Tournament.
Biggest Sleeper - Kent Lockhart (1981-85)
February of 1985. Kevin Lockhart versus the entire BYU team. Need to say more? Miner fans could definitely vote Lockhart through the bracket due to this fight alone. Not to mention the fact that Lockhart was a 8.1 ppg, 2.9 rpg and 2.3 apg player for the Miners that was a key contributor in the 1984 & 1985 NCAA Tournament teams.
Best career - Nate "Tiny" Archibald
The body of work Nate Archibald had during his 14-year NBA career was truly unprecedented. He was a six-time NBA All-Star and became the league's MVP in 1981. During that same season, Archibald became a key factor in the Celtics' 1981 NBA title run. He was elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1991.
Did you know? Don Haskins believed Gary Brewster was the toughest player he ever coached.
Yup, that's right! On one of the latest editions that we replayed from the Don Haskins Hour, coach revealed to a caller that he believed Gary Brewster was the toughest player he ever had. Brewster was a 6-foot-8 center that played at UTEP from 1972-76. He scored 12.1 ppg, 6.7 rpg and was a two-time All-WAC selection. After his stint in the NBA with Buffalo, Brewster served as an assistant coach under Haskins in the 90s.
Rember when? Randy Culpepper set the UTEP single-game all-time 3-point record... and matched it!
Randy Culpepper was the prime example of a player that was way ahead of his time. In the way basketball is played today, Culpepper would have flourished in the NBA's 3-point heavy landscape. During his junior season, RC3 poured a school-record nine 3-pointers against UCF on Jan. 23, 2010, while totaling 39 points. A few weeks later, Culpepper matched his nine 3-pointers against East Carolina (Feb. 13) when he dropped his career-best 45-points. It took him just two years to become the school's all-time leader for 3-pointers made in a season (89 in 2008-09).
Overrated? Omega Harris
Again, no dig against Omega Harris here. He was a splendid player to watch during his time at UTEP and was an All-Conference player. Harris was also responsible for scoring in double-figures through 16 straight games (2017). Plus, he's second in UTEP history with 174 3-point field goals. But again, Harris was a great No. 2 player on all his teams and struggled to be the alpha-dog on good UTEP teams.
Just missed it - Jim Babers (1952-56)
Another old-school hooper here in Jim Babers missed out on this list. Through the mid-50s, Babers averaged 11.4 ppg and 4.7 rpg. As a senior, Babers averaged 15.6 ppg for the Miners and led the team in scoring.
Highlight of the bracket - Randy Culpepper dunks over a person
Need I say more?