A few days after the season ended, we ran through the players the UNT men’s basketball team was losing to graduation and what its needs would be for next season.
Since then (deep breath) … Tony Mitchell declared for the NBA draft as expected, Clarke Overlander announced he was leaving the program and then P.J. Hardwick followed out the door. Seeing Overlander elect to leave was not a big surprise. Hardwick played a lot, so even though his departure had been a rumor for weeks, it was a bit of an unexpected turn.
So where does UNT stand?
Here’s a look.
G/F Jordan Williams, Jr. — 14.2 points, 3.7 rebounds a game
SG/PG Alzee Williams, Sr. — 11.1 points, 3.4 rebounds a game
PG Chris Jones, Jr. — 9.2 points a game, 74 assists (16 games)
SG Brandan Walton, Sr. — 8.8 points a game, 54 3s made on 36.7 percent shooting from behind the arc (stats from 2011-12 season)
C Keith Coleman, Jr. — 1.3 points, 1.6 rebounds a game
SG T.J. Taylor — transfer from Marquette and Oklahoma who sat out last year
PF Tony Mitchell — 13.0 points, 8.5 rebounds a game
SF/PF Roger Franklin — 11.7 points, 6.3 rebounds a game
PG P.J. Hardwick — 3.7 points, 2.9 reboudns a game
SF/PF Niko Stojiljkovic — 2.6 points, 2.4 rebounds a game
G Clarke Overlander — 1.1 points, 0.3 rebounds a game
SF Jacob Holmen — 5.6 points, 3.5 rebounds a game (15 games played)
SF Justin Patton — 3.2 points, 1.7 rebounds a game (19 games played)
Even with the new departures in Hardwick and Overlander, the evaluation does not change a whole lot since the end of the season, at least not in the base thought that UNT has a strong backcourt returning.
Jordan Williams is a solid college guard, as are Alzee Williams, Chris Jones and Brandan Walton. T.J. Taylor was a JUCO All-American at Paris JC.
“Our guards are going to be as good as anyone in the league,” UNT head coach Tony Benford said of Conference USA.
The new need that has arisen over the last few days is another point guard. Jones will start at the point, that seems certain. Alzee Williams has played there, but it seems pretty clear that UNT likes him better on the wing.
Benford talked about spreading the floor with shooters, something UNT couldn’t do last year. Jordan Williams, Alzee Williams, Jones, Taylor and Walton will give UNT the shooters it needs to do just that.
What UNT needs is another ball-handler and distributor. Jones had 74 assists in just 16 games, while Alzee Williams posted 40 assists. None of UNT’s other returning guards put up big numbers in terms of assists.
After UNT lost Jones last season, the Mean Green would have just been happy to have a guy or two who could get the ball to Mitchell in a spot where he could score.
The other concern at this point has to be numbers, especially in the post. That hasn’t changed. UNT has Coleman back, but he didn’t make an noticeable impact last season. Incoming recruit Greg Wesley is the real deal, but Tony Nunn had injury issues and Josh Friar appears to be a project.
It seems a bit risky to head into next season with just one player at least 6-foot-6 who played at the college level last year returning, especially since that guy is a guard in Jordan Williams
You also have to look at UNT’s situation from the perspective of how much of the roster must be replaced in a short time. UNT has six players returning, including four who played more than one game last season and three who were impact players.
Add in the three high school recruits who signed in the early period and that’s nine total players, leaving UNT four spots to fill.
Add Palm Beach JUCO guard Carrington Ward to the mix (and it looks like that is the direction this will go) and the number of spots to fill drops to three. Ward would give UNT another shooter as long as he qualifies academically. There is some question as to whether or not he was a full qualifier out of high school and thus eligible to transfer to UNT with three years of eligibility and no JUCO degree.
That would leave UNT three spots with needs at point guard and in the frontcourt to fill.
The need for frontcourt help was already there. It’s the need for a point guard that is a change and is likely the reason Quincy Smith, a point guard out of City College of San Francisco, and Lonnie McClanahan, a point guard out of Kilgore College, have suddenly shown up on UNT’s radar.