The impact of Overlander’s depature

North Texas freshman guard Clarke Overlander shoots a jumper against Arkansas State last season. Overlander has let UNT after one season. (Denton Record-Chronicle/David Minton)

UNT’s roster is going to look a whole lot different next season.

That was already going to be the case, thanks to the departure of a pretty large group of seniors.

Then Trey Norris elected to transfer before the season began. Then Tony Mitchell declared for the NBA draft, as expected. And now Clarke Overlander has also elected to leave the program.

There are a couple of ways to look at Overlander’s departure — simple math and the loss of a player with local ties who just didn’t pan out.

Let’s start with the case of Overlander as a player and a person. He’s a great guy. Anyone will tell you that. He did and said all the right things. He just didn’t make the impact UNT had hoped for, and the circumstances he faced didn’t help matters. UNT suffered a bad string of injuries last season, which pretty much eliminated the possibility of Overlander playing sparingly and developing over the long-term like he needed to after making a huge jump up in the level of competition from Argyle.

UNT needed Overlander to fill the role that Brandan Walton held as the Mean Green’s designated 3-point shooter after the senior broke his foot in the Mean Green’s season-opener. Overlander didn’t come close to succeeding, shooting 15.2 percent. UNT head coach Tony Benford talked all season about how terrible UNT was in terms of 3-point shooting.

It’s not going to hurt UNT to see Overlander leave, at least not in terms of his contributions on the court.

What makes the situation a little more complicated is the fact he is the first Denton area player to sign with UNT in men’s basketball in more than a decade.

Overlander landing at UNT was a big story when it happened.

Denton is a huge recruiting hotbed when it comes to football. Ryan defensive end Mario Edwards was the No. 1 recruit in the country a couple of years ago.

Basketball? Not so much.

Caden Dickerson signed with Western Kentucky after playing for Argyle and is one of the few other Division I recruits to come out of the immediate area in recent years.

Overlander raised the attention UNT received locally to a certain extent for a while.

If you look beyond just the Denton area, Overlander is the second Dallas area prospect to leave the program in less than a year, counting Norris.

UNT spent years trying to build a pipeline to Dallas and finally succeeded, landing a string of players from Jordan Williams (the guy who established that pipeline to a large extent) to Chris Jones to Tony Mitchell. Benford extended that history of success by landing Arlington’s Greg Wesley.

Will the loss of Overlander damage that pipeline? Probably not, but it is something to consider.

The other way to look at the impact of the loss of Overlander is just from a numbers perspective.

UNT lost four seniors in Roger Franklin, Jacob Holmen, Justin Patton and Niko Stojiljkovic in addition to Mitchell and now Overlander.

That leaves UNT with seven scholarship players returning – or at least that are scheduled to return. That leaves UNT with nearly half the roster to reconstruct and three high school signees on board – Tony Nunn, Josh Friar and Wesley, who comes in with sky-high expectations.

UNT was expected to roll through the Sun Belt and have a ton of momentum to carry it through what was always going to be an off-season when it would have to do a lot of rebuilding.

UNT never picked up that momentum. Overlander never lived up to expectations in his one season at UNT, but he was a good soldier.

Now he’s just another player UNT will have to replace in what is quickly becoming a very important recruiting class for the Mean Green.

Even with some key players back, UNT has to hit and hit big with its 2013 signees. There are just too many holes to fill as the number of players set to return next season continue to dwindle.

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