Continuing where we left off on Monday from Part 1 of the men’s basketball preview. Let’s now take a look at the frontcourt…
#5 Justin Gray (Junior SF) – The starting small forward from last year in an excellent offensive basketball player. Gray is streaky on the offensive end, as he is sort of hot and cold with his scoring hand. He really gets after the opponents on defense, and uses his athleticism to gain the advantage. Will pay a lot of minutes. He has the potential to shine this upcoming season if he can jump to the next level of being more consistent each and every game.
#11 Zack Smith (Junior PF) –Starting power forward and best all-around basketball player on the team from last season. Smith averaged 33 minutes per game, and his presence was always needed. He will get points, rebounds, and blocks. He works better around the basket on offense and defense. If he could develop a mid-range or long-range jumpshot to become more of a scoring threat from the outside, he would be the complete package in a college player.
#15 Aaron Ross (Senior PF) –Sixth man that plays as a stretch forward getting a bunch of minutes on the court. Ross has one of the purest shots on the team. He has amazing offensive scoring abilities as he can knock down a shot from anywhere on the court. His lack of mobility (due to numerous knee injuries) has taken its toll, and his defensive skills are not top notch. Ross is the guy that will knock down a trey or jumpshot when the game is on the line, has the clutch factor.
#32 Norense Odiase (Junior C) – A break in his foot sidelined the starting center for 12 games. Odiase came back for the last regular season game, and got to play in the Big 12 & NCAA tournaments. But, he didn’t log the type of minutes he had at the beginning of the year. Before the injury, he was dominate inside and would get points and clear out opponents to grab the boards. Hopefully this offseason he has fully recovered and is ready to be a force once more in the paint.
#34 Matt Temple (Senior PF/C) – When Odiase went down, Temple had to step in and carry the center position as the starter. He did a great job, but was not the scorer or rebounder that Odiase was. Yet, he got the job done down in the post and seemed to get better as the season moved forward. Temple gives max effort, and only puts up smart shots.
#3 Tommy Hamilton IV (Redshirt Senior PF/C) – Transfer from DePaul, will have to sit out this season. Hamilton has ability to stretch the floor and shoot from deep as well as inside. He is a big man that has a great shooting touch. Streaky on offense, can get hot and score in bunches. Also, a rebounding machine.
#21 Anthony Livingston (Senior PF) – Grad transfer from Arkansas State, will be eligible to play this season. Averaged near a double-double for 2 seasons in a row with AKST. He gets his points and rebounds under the basket, not a high percentage three-point or mid-range shooter.
#22 Thomas Brandsma (Senior SF) – Transfer from Arkansas Little-Rock. Brandsma transferred his entire basketball career to be with Chris Beard, at four different programs. Freshman at McMurry, sophomore at Angelo State. Sharpshooter from downtown, he most likely won’t get a lot of minutes on the floor.
#44 John Brown (Freshman PF/C) – A frosh from Magnolia. Not much info on Brown except his high school senior stats – averaged 13.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game.
Small Forward – Gray should be the main guy at small forward, getting a ton of minutes. He is the only real true 3-man. I would expect Beard to play some three-guard sets to give Gray a breather, going sometimes with a smaller lineup. Also, shifting Ross or Smith to the three position if Beard wants to go with a bigger group for a few minutes. Without knowing if Brandsma will be the clear backup, Gray is one guy on this roster that it is very important to keep healthy. Hopefully the tendinitis in his knees do not flare up because we need him in the starting lineup every game this season.
Power Forward – The best player on the team will be starting at this position, Zach Smith. He averaged 33 minutes per game last season, expect him to play most of the game again this season. Ross and Livingston will get a few minutes at the power forward spot, yet Smith might also makeup a big man lineup and play for a few moments as a small forward. It will be interesting to watch the battles, and a big thing to focus on is Chris Beard’s motion offense. I believe Smith might be the key that the whole offense is created around.
Center – Odiase was the starter, doing great things until he went down with his injury mid-season. I see him as the best big man on this roster, and for him to be fully recovered from his broken foot. He should be the starter, with Temple as his durable backup. As mentioned before, Chris Beard might like gong with the small lineup and shove Ross or Livingston with some playing time under the basket as the 5. Ultimately, Odiase should get the bulk of minutes at this position.