#136 North Texas Men's Basketball Preview

North Texas Mean Green

Overall Rank: #136
Conference Rank: #3 Sun Belt
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2010-11: 22-11, 8-8
2010-11 postseason: none
Coach: Johnny Jones (172-132 at North Texas, 187-148 overall)

North Texas has won at least 20 games every season for the last five years. You can make it six, but this will be a very different team than what Coach Johnny Jones had last year. The core of last year’s 22 win squad is gone, but the Mean Green has brought in a superb recruiting class and one Tony Mitchell. Mitchell sat around at Missouri awaiting the NCAA clearinghouse, but was never deemed eligible for the Tigers. He will be eligible for the Mean Green in December and his presence will easily be felt. Mitchell was a highly regarded recruit coming out of high school and the 6-7 forward is a superb scorer, rebounder and shot blocker. A top 20 recruit like Mitchell does not head to Denton every day and he has the potential to absolutely dominate the Sun Belt.

Who’s Out:
The list of departures is a painful one for North Texas fans, but don’t worry the newcomers are coming up next. Tristan Thompson, Josh White and George Odufuwa were the heart and soul of the team. Thompson averaged 18.0 points per game and was lethal from downtown, White ran the show effectively and turned into a very good scorer and Odufuwa was a double-double machine. Along with those three, Dominique Johnson also averaged double figures in the scoring column. He also led the team in assists despite usually coming in off of the bench. Shannon Shorter was a good wing player who could rebound and he was a regular starter as well. Ben Knox was not a major contributor, but he opted to transfer, leaving just one player left on the roster who started more than one game during the 2010-2011 campaign.

Who’s In:
On their own, this group would make a pretty good team. UNT went after some point guards and picked up junior college transfer Brandan Walton and freshmen Chris Jones and Trey Norris. Walton is the obvious choice to take over the point guard duties because of his experience at Casper College in Wyoming. However, Walton could also be a shooting guard. He has a nice stroke and if somebody else is ready to run the show, Walton could easily slide over to the two guard spot and turn into a solid scorer. Jones is more of a true point guard who can find his teammates and play stellar defense. The frontcourt has an experienced player of their own in Niko Stojilkovic. The 6-9 Frenchman has plenty of international experience and spent some time at Lon Morris College. He is not an interior scorer, but he can stretch out the defense with his shooting ability.  At 210 pounds, Stojilkovic could easily turn into a more dynamic interior scorer in the Sun Belt with a little time in the weight room. Forrest Robinson is a big man who can mix it up in the paint as a freshman. He has the size and strength to be a great player to be ready to make a major contribution on both ends of the floor this season. The star of the class, if you do not count Mitchell, is small forward Jordan Williams. He is the highest rated recruit in North Texas history and can pretty much do everything. He has the size to attack the basket with ease and the strength to get on the glass. Williams will do everything for the Mean Green and will do it for the next four years…most likely.

Who to Watch:
Kedrick Hogans is the lone returning starter and will have to be the leader among the youngsters. The 6-7 senior is a fine shot blocker and a decent interior scorer. With more opportunities coming his way, he should average around a dozen points per game. Jacob Holmen will again add depth to the frontcourt and he was pretty productive when he got the chance to play as a sophomore. He will have to step up his game as an upperclassman or he could get passed on the depth chart by the bevy of talented newcomers. Alonzo Edwards has the strength to make a difference in the paint. Like Holmen, his playing time is up in the air, but the sophomore does have plenty of upside. The return of Alzee Williams will make the battle for the starting point guard spot much fiercer. Williams was not a major contributor as a freshman two years ago, but he was the point guard in waiting. An injury forced him to miss all of last season, but if he stays healthy he will make a serious bid for the starting job.

Final Projection:
Coach Jones has a lot of talent to work with, but things might be messy for a while. Nobody really has a starting role secured heading into the heart of the summer. And even once things seem like they are normal, Mitchell will become eligible and shake up the rotation. That instability may cause a few problems, but by March this should be the most talented team in the Sun Belt Conference. If that talent can turn into a cohesive unit, the Mean Green will be tough to stop.

Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT

Projected Starting Five:
Chris Jones, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Brandan Walton, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Jordan Williams, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
Kedrick Hogans, Senior, Forward, 8.5 points per game
Niko Stojilkovic, Junior, Forward, DNP last season

Madness 2012 NBA Draft Rankings

#24 Tony Mitchell

Madness 2012 Recruit Rankings

#132 Jordan Williams

Check out another article about North Texas men’s basketball.