UNT is placing former signee Tony Nunn, a 6-8 center out of Oldsmar Christian, over at Odessa College. We talked a little bit about it when the news came down this week.
Now that we have had some time, we can delve into what the news means in a little more depth.
UNT picked up a commitment from the Florida prep school product pretty early on in a move that was a little out of the norm for the program historically.
UNT has taken a lot of transfers and junior college players through the years, but very few high school players who have signed with the Mean Green have been from anywhere but Texas or a neighboring state.
Nunn was an instance where UNT tried to cast its net a little farther.
It didn’t work out in the end, largely due to Nunn’s injury problems. He barely played his senior year.
UNT’s coaches said they wanted to place Nunn so he would have a chance to play next season. He could end up at UNT the following year.
There’s nothing wrong with the way it all played out, and it ended up opening up an extra spot in UNT’s class, one the team will look to fill shortly. There are a few guys who might come in on a visit in the next few days. One way or another UNT will fill that slot (Maurice Aniefiok, cough, cough).
Losing Nunn and the post presence he would have provided didn’t turn out to be a problem because UNT added Cincinnati transfer Kelvin Gaines. Throw in Josh Friar and Collin Voss and returning forward Keith Coleman and UNT will have plenty of size.
Head coach Tony Benford likes what he has. He told me this week that feels good about the outside shooting he has added and the size he has inside. He pointed out that UNT will be bigger inside overall and that he will have more players who can stretch a defense with the addition of T.J. Taylor and Vertrail Vaughns and the return of Brandan Walton.
There is a lot to be said for that.
Here’s the concern:
UNT is betting a whole lot on high-risk, high-reward types of players on a largely reconstituted roster with six new players.
Vaughns is a pretty safe bet. He’s a guy who has played at a high-level program and is coming home to play one last season. Greg Wesley, an Arlington Seguin product who signed with UNT out of high school, is also a pretty safe bet to work out over the long-run, although he might need time to adjust as a freshman.
Armani Flanigan and Collin Voss came from the junior college ranks, which makes both a bit more of a short-term solution and gamble.
UNT has been hit-and-miss on junior college players through the years (Eric Tramiel, hit; Mark Wilson, miss).
Flanigan and Voss were both worth signing. Mid-major programs sign junior college players. It’s just part of the deal.
The concern has to be how a few of UNT’s risk-reward players turn out. A lot of mid-major programs have them. The way I see it, UNT has three, which is a pretty high number.
Keith Coleman (we will talk about him in more depth later) has been improving in practice, but still averaged 1.3 points and 1.6 rebounds a game while playing sparingly last season after Benford called him a Big East quality center.
I have been told by numerous people from his high school coach to the guys who covered Cincinnati that Gaines is a freak athlete who can jump out of the gym. He’s also a guy who averaged 0.5 points and 1.4 rebounds while hardly playing at Cincinnati and he’s coming off a shoulder injury.
UNT’s coaches compare Gaines to George Odufuwa, but here’s something to keep in mind — Odufuwa spent a year at UNT as a redshirt after transferring from Arizona State, learning the ropes and adjusting to his teammates. UNT spent a year developing him. UNT will be counting on Gaines this year.
Josh Friar also looks the part, but came off the bench for his high school team and averaged about three points and three rebounds a game.
Those guys will look great in the layup line, but here’s the question that will hang over UNT heading into next season, and this would have been true with or without Nunn:
UNT will have a ton of guys who look the part or have the athletic ability to be impact players on the Conference USA level next season.
Can any of them play basketball at the C-USA level?
Most people (me included) would be comfortable saying Jordan Williams, Chris Jones, Alzee Williams, Brandan Walton and Vaughns can.
There are just not a lot of other proven commodities UNT will have at its disposal next year, which was going to be the case whether Nunn made it to UNT or not. Roger Franklin may have been short for a forward. UNT will have guys who will look the part a little more, but Franklin could play.
How those UNT’s three high-risk, high-reward guys, plus a few newcomers in Flannigan, Voss and Wesley fare right off the bat will determine how the Mean Green’s season goes.