UTEP Basketball Once Again Robbed Through All C-USA Honors
If there are two things that always remain consistent in Conference USA, understand that (1) C-USA referees are among the worst you'll ever see and (2) the league always seems to get it wrong when it comes to annual rankings or honors.
This year, C-USA got it wrong again.
Should we really be surprised?
On Monday, the league announced Souley Boum (2nd Team) and Jamal Bieniemy (3rd Team) were named to the All C-USA list. On the women's basketball side, Katia Gallegos (2nd Team) and Destiny Thurman (honorable mention) were recognized by league today with an all-conference honor. While Bieniemy, Gallegos and Thurman seemed deserving of their honors, the snub of Boum to the first team is mind-boggling.
Boum led C-USA in scoring (19.8 ppg) as the first Miner to do so since the program's all-time scoring leader Stefon Jackson led the league in scoring back in 2007-08 (23.6 ppg). He's had nine 20+ point games in the last 13 games, scoring in 10 or more points in 24 games this year. He leads the conference in free throws made (147; 16th in NCAA) and free throw attempts (172; 31st in NCAA). Not to mention, Boum also logs in the second-most minutes per game (36.2) in all of C-USA. He played in 26 of the 30 games, missing the first two games due to a finger injury and he missed a pair of games in non-conference due to COVID-19 protocols.
Historically speaking, Boum tied Roy Smallwood (1,380) to become the 10th all-time scorer in UTEP program history.
How can one justify keeping a conference-leading scorer off a first team all-conference list as they did with Boum?
To put it into perspective, the 2020-21 leading scorer of C-USA was Jahmir Young, who earned a first team selection despite Charlotte finishing 9-16 that season. UTEP ended with an 18-12 overall record, better than the 49ers' 17-13 finish. Yet, Young still was selected as a first team all-conference member while finishing third in C-USA for scoring (19.6 ppg). There's also an argument that Boum should have been selected over WKU’s Dayvion McKnight, who finished the season averaging 16 points and 5.68 assists per game (15th in NCAA).
I'm all for the honoring of LA Tech's Kenneth Lofton Jr., UAB's Jordan Walker (Player of the Year) and North Texas' Tylor Perry on the first team, though there's an argument that the Mean Green's success hinges on Thomas Bell, not necessarily Perry.
Still, Boum should be recognized among the five best players in this league. This is Boum's second honor in the league, having been named third team all-conference last season. The C-USA awards are voted on by the league's coaches, sports information directors and a media representative from each school.
Let's celebrate point guard Jamal Bieniemy's third team honor for a second.
Bieniemy has been a leader for the Miners all season and transitioned from being a pass-first guard last year to an all-around point guard this season. He averaged 14.8 points (9th in C-USA), 3.9 assists (8th in C-USA) and 1.6 steals (7th in C-USA).
The transfer from Oklahoma scored in double figures in 20 of his 28 games played. He scored a season-best 36 points at Rice on Feb. 4, which was the most points by a Miner since Randy Culpepper scored 45 points against East Carolina 12 years ago. Bieniemy also ranks in the top-10 for minutes played this year (34.4 mpg; 6th C-USA).
As a junior, Gallegos has been honored all three seasons she has played with the Miners. She finished with second team honors on Monday after averaging 11.6 points, 3.9 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game in 28 starts. She's the team leader in assists, steals, blocks, field goals made and free throws made.
Thurman earned an honorable mention for the all-conference selection, as she led the team in scoring at 12.5 points per game. This is her first postseason honor through two seasons with the Miners.
Up next: The women's basketball team (No. 6 seed) will begin the C-USA Championships on Tuesday at 3 p.m. MT/4 p.m. CT against UTSA (No. 7 seed) in the Ford Center at The Star. The men's squad (No. 4 seed) will face Old Dominion (No. 5 seed) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. MT/8 p.m.