Men's basketball

October left NBA players and fans frustrated with no resolution to the current NBA lockout. But that hasn’t stopped the UTSA men’s basketball team from preparing for the start of their season on Nov. 11, against the UTEP Miners. The Roadrunners will try to follow a very successful 2010-11 season, when the Southland Conference champions advanced to the second round the NCAA tournament.

“Our guys got a taste of why you play Division I basketball, and that’s to play in the NCAA tournament,” Men’s Basketball Head Coach Brooks Thompson said. “Hopefully, that taste will make them stay hungry and to do it every year,”

The Roadrunners have 12 players returning from last year’s team. Sophomore forward Jeromie Hill, junior guard Melvin Johnson III and senior forward Lenny Wilkins are all expected to be significant contributors to this year’s squad.

Unfortunately, Wilkins is sidelined for the moment with a foot injury and hasn’t been able to practice. Hill was named a Lou Henson Preseason All-American. The former 2011 Southland Conference Freshman of the Year had a very productive season averaging 13.4 points per game and 6.6 rebounds per game, with 47.5 field goal percentage.

The players have high expectations to repeat their appearance in the NCAA tournament this March.

“Last year was an unbelievable feeling for not just me but for the whole team and the school,” Hill said. “Everyone was just behind us, and for us to get to the NCAA tournament and to win a game was a huge experience. We have a chance this year to go back there and do the same thing.”

Johnson, 2010 Southland Conference Freshman of the Year, put up 14.9 points per game and 3.5 rebounds per game last season for the Roadrunners. Johnson was also efficient from the three-point line, by scoring 80 three-pointers last season. He is currently ranked eighth in school history for three-pointers with 125 in his career.

“Potentially, both can be very good basketball players. Johnson has added more dimensions to his game, and Hill has gotten stronger and added some things,” Thompson said. “They’ve worked hard this summer. They have to go out there and prove it on the floor.”

The Roadrunners have also added three strong players to this year’s team. Junior transfer guard Michael Hale III was a first team All-Scenic West Conference and Junior Guard Kannon Burrage put up impressive numbers during his time at Des Moines Community College, averaging 20.7 points and 5.2 rebound per game. Finally, freshman A.J. Price, a three-time all-district player from The Colony High School in The Colony, Texas, near Dallas, is the final addition to this year’s squad.

“We’ve got a great group of young men to come and support and it’s a lot of fun,” Thompson said. “We are proud to be a part of this university as a basketball program and we are doing everything we can to make the university proud of us.”

The Roadrunners will hit the road Friday to face UTEP in El Paso. Their first home game will be Nov. 26. against Pepperdine.

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