There were a couple of items of interest that came down on the UNT basketball front today. New Mexico JC center Ray Barreno will visit this weekend, while Angelina College shooting guard Deckie Johnson signed his national letter of intent.
I’ve gathered some follow-up material on both fronts …
I picked up the news that Barreno would visit from one of his coaches.
Barreno called me back later in the day to talk a little about where things stand.
UNT has been recruiting the 6-11 sophomore since the end of the season. Head coach Tony Benford has been in regular contact with Barreno and has told him that UNT needs a center next season.
Barreno has visited Portland and also has an offer from UTSA. What he’s looking for is the right fit, which is understandable considering he started out his college career with a short stay at Tulane before transferring.
“I want to go somewhere I can come in and make an impact and help a team win,” Barreno said. “I want to go someplace I feel comfortable with the team and the coaches. I also want to go somewhere I fit the style of play, where they will throw it in the post and play inside out. North Texas is that kind of place, that is why I am visiting.”
Barreno has heard a lot about UNT from Benford, but wants to see the school, get a better feel for how he will fit in with the program and its players.
UNT lost two of its key forwards in Colin Voss and Armani Flannigan to graduation. Highly regarded high school product Rickey Brice, who is a 7-footer, arrives in the fall, but he played at Arlington Pantego Christian and might need some time to adjust to playing on the college level.
Barreno was ranked No. 31 on TexasHoops.com’s list of the top players in the state in 2013 and appears as if he is a good fit for UNT in terms of what it wants to do.
We reported over the weekend that Johnson was headed to UNT after his high school coach announced it on Twitter. Johnson talked to us about his decision and what went into it the next day.
What can be interesting on national signing day is we hear from coaches after the letters roll off the fax machine about the roles they envision players filling the next season.
UNT put out a release on Johnson late today that included a couple of quotes that fit the mold. Once we take out all the superfluous, “We’re happy he signed” stuff this is what we get …
“ He’s a winner, he’s been well coached, and he’ll be ready to step in and contribute for us from day one. I believe that because, first off, Deckie is an explosive guard that has a tremendous ability to score from anywhere on the court. Secondly, he has a mindset of toughness on the defensive end of the floor. I think he’s just a great all-around guard that has a chance to be one of the best in C-USA next season.”
And this …
“When you combine Deckie with the other guards we are adding to our roster this year, Ja’Michael Brown and J’Mychal Reece, all of them are really good athletes that can create their own shots and create shots for their teammates.They will make us better perimeter defenders and make us a smarter basketball team on the offensive end.”
The bottom line is that the Mean Green’s staff believes the team will be more athletic and better defensively on the perimeter with the the three guys it added in Johnson, Brown and Reese.
The Mean Green had better hope that trio helps offensively as well. UNT really struggled at times offensively last year when dropped a few stinkers (Rice 82, UNT 54 … Old Dominion 61, UNT 50 … Texas Tech 60, UNT 45 … Stephen F. Austin 59, UNT 48). Those games all came with consistent perimeter scorer Jordan Williams averaging 14.7 points a game in his senior year, and yes, I know he wasn’t always the most efficient player.
He was still pretty darn good and he won’t be easy to replace.
Johnson could help UNT in a host of ways. All I’m saying is it certainly wouldn’t hurt if he could put the ball in the hole consistently considering what UNT lost in Williams.