2012-2013 Overall Rank: #85
Conference Rank: #4 Conference USA
Houston Team Page
Considering how young Houston was last season, a 15-15 record was pretty good and much more than most expected from Coach James Dickey and company. Those low expectations have been long gone for quite some time now. Coach Dickey has brought in a superb recruiting class that would even make Memphis look twice. While the top two scorers left the program, leaving an already young team even younger, the sheer talent at Houston will have them right in the mix for a Conference USA title. And by March this should be a team nobody wants to play when their tournament hopes are on the line.
2011-12 Record: 15-15, 7-9
2011-12 Postseason: None
Coach: James Dickey
Coach Record: 27-32 at Houston, 191-156 overall
Losing Jonathan Simmons and Alandise Harris leaves very little experience on the roster. In fact, there is just one senior and every junior is either a walk-on or a transfer who has yet to play a game for the Cougars. Last season was a rebuilding year, but this year is pretty much the same. The difference is the Cougars played very well in 2011-2012 and the talent level is much better for 2012-2013. Simmons led Houston with 14.7 points per game and added 5.0 rebounds and 2.2 assists. Harris, who is headed to Arkansas, tallied 13.3 points and 6.4 rebounds from the wing. Kirk Van Slyke is also transferring after averaging 11.6 minutes per game as a junior. He was a big wing who was an effective scorer off of the bench. The lone senior leaving is starting guard Darian Thibodeaux. He was never much of a scorer, but he could knock down some long balls and always played great defense.
Even if Houston did not return any players at all, they could put up a pretty good team with this class of newcomers. A couple junior college point guards will step in and look for the starting job. Tione Womack is a floor leader first and foremost. He is extremely quick and has little trouble creating for his teammates. He is also a very good defender. If Coach Dickey wants a little more of a scoring punch at the point, he can call on Brandon Morris. Jherrod Stiggers missed all of the 2011-2012 campaign with a knee injury. The 6-5 shooting guard is ready for his debut now and he can make an impact with his athleticism and ability to knock down the long ball. Small forward Danuel House is one of the best incoming freshmen in the nation, ranked 26th overall by College Sports Madness. House has great size at 6-7 and can do it all offensively from either wing spot. He will dazzle with his ability to finish above the rim and will knock down plenty of long balls. House is the type of talent that does not show up every day and he should be starting from day one…and for as many years as he wants to stick around. Mikhail McLean and LeRon Barnes are also back after suffering early injuries last season. McLean, a 6-8 small forward, played back in 2010-2011 as a freshman before suffering a foot injury. Barnes made it through just five games of his freshman campaign before missing the year with an injury. The frontcourt adds J.J. Richardson, a transfer from Pittsburgh, Danrad Knowles and Valentine Izundu. Richardson spent a couple seasons as a reserve with the Panthers and can bang in the paint and step outside and knock down the mid-range jumper. He will have competition from Knowles for the starting job. Knowles may not be quite as highly regarded as House, but he is a top 100 recruit and another great pickup for UH. At 6-10 and 190 pounds, Knowles plays more like a wing than a power forward. When Houston wants to get up and down the floor, Knowles will be on the floor. He can even lead the break. Izundu is a more traditional post player, who can block shots and hit the glass hard. He will need time to develop his offensive game, but Izundu could make an impact defensively as a freshman.
Who to Watch:
The frontcourt is suddenly loaded with all of the newcomers joining TaShawn Thomas and Leon Gibson. Thomas, a 6-8, 215 pound Killeen, Texas native, had a great freshman campaign. He was expected to use his work ethic to grab rebounds and block shots, which he did, averaging a team high 8.2 and 2.1, respectively, but he also quickly emerged as a scorer. Thomas averaged 10.7 points per game and established himself as a major interior scoring threat. Gibson, the lone senior on the roster, averaged just 12.6 minutes per game, but is a tough rebounder. However, the newcomers may make it difficult for him to play a bigger role than that.
The star of the backcourt is Joseph Young. The 6-3 sophomore was the star recruit of the 2011 class and he lived up to the billing, averaging 11.3 points per game and shooting 38.2 percent from long range. Young, despite being just a sophomore, will need to develop into a leader on the floor. Point guard J.J Thompson will battle it out with the newcomers for playing time. He did start 19 games as a freshman and performed admirably for such a young player. However, the junior college transfers brought in may leave Thompson as a backup at best. If all of the newcomers even come close to living up to their hype, this will be a very dangerous Cougar squad. There is a ton of depth and potential options for Coach Dickey and eventually everything will come together. The scary part is that the core of this team will be around for a couple more years, but success now will lead to even bigger things down the road.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
Toine Womack, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Joseph Young, Sophomore, Guard, 11.3 points per game
Danuel House, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
Danrad Knowles, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
TaShawn Thomas, Sophomore, Forward, 10.7 points per game
Madness 2012 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#26 Danuel House
#68 Danrad Knowles