UNT coach Tony Benford has suspended sophomore guard DeAndre Harris again, this time for his actions on the bench during a loss to Old Dominion on Saturday.
Harris will be out for UNT’s game at UTEP on Thursday. For more on the basic news and Benford’s comments, check back on the blog for our post from earlier today.
What I haven’t gotten into are the ramifications of the sophomore guard struggling to stay out of trouble.
The bottom line is that that is a huge year for UNT and Benford, because if one looks at it, the Mean Green are loaded with key seniors. There’s Jordan Williams, one of the program’s all-time most productive players from a statistical standpoint, not to mention Colin Voss, T.J. Taylor and Armani Flannigan.
Those guys are not going to be easy to replace from a statistical standpoint. Outside of Jeremy Combs, Harris is one of the few players who appears ready to step into what will be a huge void next season.
Here’s a look at UNT’s seniors and what they are providing this season:
SF Jordan Williams (starter) — 15.4 points, 5.1 rebounds a game
PF Colin Voss (starter) — 9.0 points, 6.0 rebounds a game
PG T.J. Taylor (starter) — 8.5 points, 3.3 rebounds a game
PF Armani Flannigan (key reserve) — 3.4 points, 2.5 rebounds a game
Taken together, those four guys average 36.3 points and 16.9 rebounds a game. That’s 55.1 percent of UNT’s scoring average of 65.8 points a game.
Jeremy Combs will continue to improve. The addition of Texas A&M transfer J-Mychal Reese will also be big and will help tremendously at the point guard spot. UNT is hoping high school big man Ricky Brice can help right away. Personally, I think Brice is going to need a year to adjust to the college game and that UNT will be lucky if he averages six points and five rebounds a game a game next season, but let’s say he adequately replaces Voss.
That still leaves UNT with a huge hole to fill on the wing with Williams gone. Harris is by far UNT’s best hope for someone to come close to covering that production. Take him out of the equation if he doesn’t work out and UNT is really short on scoring guards/shooters.
Starting shooting guard Maurice Aniefiok will be back. He’s averaging 8.0 points a game and is UNT’s best (37.4 percent) and most prolific (40 makes on the year) 3-point shooter. He will fill one wing spot. Carrington Ward will return from a broken foot and Greg White-Pittman will be back from a shoulder injury.
That certainly isn’t much outside of Aniefiok, especially considering what UNT is losing in Williams. Lose Williams and Harris and the situation becomes pretty dire unless UNT can add a couple of ready-to-go junior college guards.
That could be tough do in the late signing period that begins April 15.
UNT really needs Harris to work out. It probably needs at least one ready-to-play JUCO wing even with Aniefiok returning.
There are some UNT fans who have questioned if Benford would be willing to move on from Harris and go in another direction. I just don’t see it. Benford has known Harris since he was a kid. It would be hard for him to cut ties with Harris anyway.
Considering what UNT is facing after this season and how important Harris appears to be to UNT’s future, it seems highly unlikely.
UNT really, really needs Harris to figure it out — for this year and especially for its future.