#114 UC Irvine Men's Basketball 2021-2022 Preview

UC Irvine Anteaters
2021-2022 Overall Rank: #114
Conference Rank: #2 Big West
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In each of the last eight seasons, UC Irvine has finished first or second in the Big West. That has resulted in two trips to the NCAA Tournament, including in 2019 when Coach Russell Turner’s team upset Kansas State in the first round. Despite losing a couple starters, this team will be more than ready to compete for another shot at the NCAA Tournament.
2020-21 Record: 18-9, 10-4
2020-21 Postseason: None
Coach: Russell Turner
Coach Record: 227-148 at UC Irvine, 227-148 overall
Key Departed Players:
Brad Greene, Center, 9.3 ppg
Jeron Artest, Guard, 4.0 ppg
Key Returning Players:
Colin Welp, Senior, Forward, 15.1 ppg
Dawson Baker, Sophomore, Guard, 10.7 ppg
DJ Davis, Sophomore, Guard, 9.1 ppg
Austin Johnson, Junior, Forward, 5,2 ppg
JC Butler, Junior, Forward, 5.1 ppg
Isaiah Lee, Junior, Guard, 5.0 ppg
Andre Henry, Sophomore, Guard, 2.8 ppg
Justin Hohn, Sophomore, Guard, 2.8 ppg
Emmanuel Tshimanga, Sophomore, Center, 2.6 ppg
Dean Keeler, Junior, Forward, 1.6 ppg
Ofure Ujadughele, Sophomore, Guard, 1.3 ppg
Rick Hunter, Sophomore, Forward, 1.3 ppg
Key New Players:
Devin Tillis, Sophomore, Forward, Transfer from UNLV
Akiva McBimey-Griffin, Freshman, Forward
Bent Leucten, Freshman, Forward
Hayden Welling, Freshman, Forward
Colin Welp will again lead the frontcourt after tallying 15.1 points and 7.6 rebounds in 2020-2021. The 6-9 senior can stretch the defense with his outside shooting ability, but is at his best inside the arc. Austin Johnson, JC Butler and Emmanuel Tshimanga are all young frontcourt players, but gained valuable experience last season. Coach Turner has also brought in UNLV transfer Devin Tillis to help replace the minutes lost with the departure of center Brad Greene. As a freshman at UNLV last season, Tillis averaged 3.7 points and 3.5 rebounds in just over 19 minutes per game. He will get an opportunity to make a much bigger impact with the Anteaters. The backcourt has an emerging star in sophomore Dawson Baker. As a freshman last year, he averaged 10.7 points per game and shot 39.6 percent from beyond the arc. With fellow sophomore DJ Davis adding 9.1 points and 2.0 assists, the young UC Irvine backcourt is full of potential. Junior Isaiah Lee is not going to score like Baker or Davis, but he is the experienced, steadying force on the perimeter. In a season where many teams boast very experienced rosters, that is not the case with the Anteaters. There is only one senior on the roster and that lack of experience could make a larger difference this season than it normally would.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 72.2 (143rd in nation, 4th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 63.4 (25, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.1 (102, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 38.7 (4, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 4.9 (334, 10)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.8 (165, 7)
Free-Throw Percentage: 75.9 (38, 2)
Rebound Margin: 7.7 (16, 2)
Assists Per Game: 11.8 (262, 7)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.0 (159, 5)