Earlier today we learned that the NCAA had granted an extra year of eligibility to college athletes playing in the winter sports. For college basketball fans, this could have a big impact on the UTEP Miners.

For the men, that means Bryson Williams and Eric Villa could conceivably come back next fall and play their senior seasons for a second time if they want to return and the team agrees to bring them back. Williams was rumored to test the NBA Draft waters following this past season, but instead he chose to return to UTEP for his senior season. Depending on his development and NBA Draft grade, he could stay in El Paso and continue to refine his skills or elect to turn pro if he feels that he is ready.

It also means that junior Jamal Bieniemy could have three years instead of two as UTEP's starting point guard. The same can be said for fellow juniors like Souley Boum, Tydus Verhoeven, Efe Odigie, Christian Agnew (assuming he gets a waiver and is eligible this season). The rest of the roster is filled with freshmen and sophomores, who would also gain that extra year of eligibility should they stay with the program. Even if Williams elects to go pro after the season, the Miners are sitting pretty with their nucleus intact for another few years.

Michael P. Reese.
Michael P. Reese.

As for the UTEP women's roster, the Miners have a total of six upper classmen. Juniors Sabine Lipe and Ariana Taylor and seniors Michelle Pruitt and DejaNae Roebuck are all expected to have a big role on the 2020-21 team. Now, they could each play an extra season or two after today's ruling. It also means the sophomore trio of Katia Gallegos, Avery Crouse, and Arina Khlopkova could all play another four seasons with the orange and blue. That could be a huge boost to head coach Kevin Baker.

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