Who’s ready for the basketball season? Well, strap in tight because we are about to go for a ride. There is a lot of energy built up for this next season as our new head coach takes over a scrappy Red Raiders team that was most recently selected to the Big Dance. It had been a long time coming to make the postseason, and the program is thirsty for more success.
Since the Tubby Smith departure and the heist of Chris Beard from UNLV, our basketball program has had a whirlwind of roster changes. I was waiting for the dust to settle before giving a feasible analysis of the team. We are now to that point with the regular season starting about a month out.
Without further ado… let’s take a look at the backcourt. There are a few familiar faces, and some new blood running at the guard positions. I’d like to introduce each one individually.
#12 Keenan Evans (Junior PG) – The starting point guard from last season had his ups-and-downs. He ran the team for the majority of the minutes on the floor. Evans had trouble at times with ball control and turnovers, yet he made up for it with a few breakout games offensively. He could always be leaned on to get points on the board. Also, on defense he could always be counted on to give opponents a tough time, and scramble to win a loose ball.
#2 Devon Thomas (Senior PG) – Used primarily as the backup point guard last season. Thomas saw his minutes per game taper off at about the halfway mark of the season. Not a scoring threat, he was used in alternate moments to be a game manager and setup the offense. He is quick, and can apply pressure on the defensive end of the floor.
#30 Andrew Sorrells (Sophomore PG) – Saw extremely limited action last season in six games. Did not register any points on his two attempts from downtown.
#23 Giovanni McLean (Senior PG) – Grad transfer from Quinnipiac. Mclean brings leadership along with his veteran basketball experience. He will be an excellent game manager when running the offense. He took a long road to end up playing out his senior year at Texas Tech.
#10 Niem Stevenson (Junior SG) – JUCO transfer from Seward County Community College. A two time NJCAA All-American selection. He was highly recruited out of SCCC, and can do just about everything from the shooting guard position. When on the floor he will get points, rebounds, assists, and steals.
#4 Shadell Millinghaus (Junior PG/SG) – JUCO transfer from Northwest Florida State College. Millinghaus is an all-around talented combo guard that can put the ball through the bucket, he is a scorer. Started his college career at Southern Miss, but left for NWFSC.
#1 Brandone Francis (Redshirt Sophomore SG) – Transfer from University of Florida. Will sit out this season due to NCAA transfer rules. He struggled on the Gators team as a freshman, only shooting 20.2% on the court. Francis was a top recruit out of high school, and his potential is sky high.
Point Guard – I have to believe that Evans and McLean will fight over the bulk of minutes at the PG position. Evans has two seasons under his belt of Big 12 play, and knows the opposing guards of the conference. McLean is the savvy veteran that has been a college journeyman. They both will be able to use their basketball experience, but McLean might be able to pick-up more quickly on the Chris Beard style motion offense. I would edge McLean as the starter right now, with Evans as a close backup. Thomas will also get a chance at some minutes, but will have heavy competition unless an injury sidelines the starter/backup.
Shooting Guard – With Toddrick Gotcher and Devaughntah Williams exhausting their college eligibility after last season… the shooting guard position was an item of great concern for me. Now, fast forward to the signing of Stevenson and Millinghaus. My nerves have seemed to calm for the moment. Stevenson was a superstar at the JUCO level, and Millinghaus was a solid JUCO recruiting catch. But, a JUCO transfers game does not always translate smoothly to a big-time D-1 basketball conference like the Big 12. We will have to see how this plays out. Based solely on credentials, I am assuming that Stevenson will be the starter getting the bulk of the minutes and Millinghaus serving as the backup SG.