#106 UC Irvine Men's Basketball 2020-2021 Preview

UC Irvine Anteaters
2020-2021 Overall Rank: #106
Conference Rank: #1 Big West
 UC Irvine Logo
UC Irvine heads into the 2020-21 season looking to defend their Big West regular season championship. The Anteaters were on track on to return to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year before the Covid-19 pandemic ended up canceling the Big West and NCAA Tournament. Russell Turner has steadily built the UC Irvine into a consistent 20 win plus type of team on annual basis and doesn’t seem to be showing signs of slowing down anytime soon.
2019-20 Record: 21-11, 13-3
Coach: Russell Turner
Coach Record: 209-139 at UC Irvine 209-139, overall
Key Departed Players:
Evan Leonard, Guard, 12.4 ppg
Eysaau Worku, Guard, 12.3 ppg
Tommy Rutherford, Forward, 10.1 ppg
John Edgar, Forward, 6.1 ppg
Aiden Krause, Forward, 3.2 ppg
Key Returning Players:
Collin Welp, Redshirt Junior, Forward, 13.0 ppg
Brad Greene, Redshirt Senior, Center, 9.0 ppg
Austin Johnson, Sophomore, Forward, 4.2 ppg
Isaiah Lee, Sophomore, Guard, 3.3 ppg
Jeron Artest, Sophomore, Guard, 2.8 ppg
Key New Players:
Andre Henry, Freshman, Guard
Jayce Catchings, Freshman, Guard
DJ Davis, Freshman, Guard
Dawson Baker, Freshman, Guard
Hunter Ruck, Freshman, Forward
Justin Hohn, RS Freshman, Guard
Emmanuel Tshimanga, RS Freshman, Center
Ofure Ujadughele, RS Freshman, Guard
Collin Welp and Brad Greene are two quality players who will provide a nice mix of experience and offensive production down in the paint. Welp averaged 13 points per game, while shooting 47.6 percent from the floor including 44.2 percent from behind the three-point arc. Greene is very efficient shooting the basketball as he made 57.3 percent of his shots from the floor and collected 7.7 rebounds per game last season. Austin Johnson, Isaiah Lee, and Jeron Artest will be back in the mix for 2020-21 and will need to take that critical jump between the freshman and sophomore season by boosting their offensive production. Andre Henry is an incoming freshman to keep an eye on as he was a Top 300 recruit according to the 247sports.com for the class of 2020. Bottom line. It will be important to replace the lost backcourt production of Evan Leonard and Eyssau Worku as they combined to score 22.7 points per game last season. It might take some time to get that done but, in the end, you can expect the Anteaters to find a way to win another Big West Conference championship and return to the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 74.0 (101st in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 65.2 (61, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 47.3 (21, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 38.8 (12, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.2 (271,8)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.4 (70, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 73.9 (84, 3)
Rebound Margin: 9.4 (3, 1)
Assists Per Game: 14.8 (43, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.9 (247, 8)