Good Miner Basketball career, but ...

MinerManiac

MI Hall of Famer
Jun 28, 2001
2,702
2,417
113
Here is a thread that I've been thinking about for a while, but have been waiting until the board was dead. It's pretty dead now. So here's the idea: list Miner Basketball players who had good careers, but didn't live up to your early expectations. I'll give a couple of examples.

Roy Smallwood: Bigwood isn't going to like this choice at all. And there's no denying that Smallwood had a good career. A career in which he scored 1380 points, pulled down 755 rebounds, and recorded 119 blocked shots. He ranks on the top ten all time at UTEP in each of the following career categories: points, rebounds, blocked shots, and steals. By any metric, he had a successful career.

So why do I say that he didn't meet my career expectations? It's because I remember the way he started his UTEP career. He had some big games early in his freshman season, and soon Miner fans were reacting in the way that is likely typical only of Miner fans. Instead of being excited that we had such a talented freshman, they immediately started worrying that he would either transfer to a school in a bigger conference or declare for the NBA draft after his freshman year. He finished the season with impressive stats, especially for a freshman: 13.4 ppg on .521 shooting from the field and .459 from 3 point range, and 5.9 rpg. I, along with everyone else, expected huge things from him.

Unfortunately he never scored at that clip again in his career. His shooting percentage declined each year until he finally bettered it his senior season. He never did shoot three pointers as well again, though he did come close that senior year. The drop in scoring from his freshman to his sophomore year, where he put up 10.5 ppg, can partially be explained by the addition of new talent in the form of Eugene Costello, Chris Neal, Brain Stewart, and Leonard Owens. His scoring did improve his junior year to 12.4 ppg. That 2001-02 Miner team, which in the preseason was expected to compete for a conference title and NCAA Tournament bid, but finished 10-22, needed more. Not just from Smallwood, but from Costello, Stewart, Neal, Owens, everyone.

I was most disappointed in Smallwood in the beginning of what would have been his senior year. In that 2002-03 season he only played in 6 games before being injured, and played poorly in each of those games. He averaged 6 ppg on .355 shooting, the worst of his career in both categories. And the team really needed him to step up. The only real talent on that team came from freshmen Gio St Amant and John Tofi, and JC transfer Chris Craig, and Craig was horrible the first half of the season. The team really needed Smallwood to step up, and, in those six games, he didn't do it.

Fortunately Roy received a medical redshirt, and came back a played solidly in 2003-04. He shot the best fg percentage of his career, .567, scoring 8.2 ppg. In that season, though, he was the third best forward on the team, behind Omar Thomas and Jason Williams.

Roy Smallwood departed UTEP with a career that he could be proud of. I've already mentioned how his career numbers stack up, and he was a key contributor to a team that played in the NIT (2000-01) and in the NCAA Tournament (2003-04). Still, after his freshman year, he never again looked like a player that could be a star for a high major team, or someone who may be drafted by an NBA team.

Julian Washburn: Placing Julian's name on this list feels like sacrilege. He is one of the three best defenders I have ever seen in a Miner uniform, the other two being Juden Smith and Julyan Stone (Jason Wlliams would be fourth on this list). He also had some incredible all time numbers: 1526 points and 497 boards. He is in UTEP's top 10 all time in career points scored and three point field goals made, and 12th in both career assists and steals.

So why did I place Julian, a player that I absolutely love, on this list? It's because I always thought that he could have been a much better offensive player than he chose to be.

As a freshman Julian averaged 11.2 ppg on .451 shooting. That latter number would prove to be the highest of his career. At 6'8" and extremely athletic, he showed that he could drive and finish, and he rose so high on his jumper that it made it practically impossible to defend. As I did initially with Smallwood, I expected that in the future Miner fans would talk about Washburn with the same reverential tones that those of us who saw the 80s Miners speak of Tim Hardaway.

Now Julian's scoring numbers did improve during his sophomore and junior seasons. His second year he scored 12.3 ppg, and 13.1 in his third year. But he seemed to pick and choose the times when he would be aggressive offensively; I wished that he would choose to do so much more frequently. In his senior year Julian had the lowest scoring average of his UTEP career at 10.3 ppg, and his lowest shooting percentage at .415.

So there you go. Two really good players that I would have loved to see on this past year's Miner team, but who didn't improve the way that I expected them to from their freshman seasons. Please provide some other names of Miners who had good careers (I'm not looking for busts), but didn't live up to your early expectations. Also, feel free to tell me how wrong I am about the two players above.
 

miner1liner

MI Hall of Famer
Feb 10, 2014
2,651
2,396
113
I can't argue with your opinions on Roy and Julian. I think especially in Julian's case. He was just never the scorer that he needed to be and now trying to make it in the NBA? Defense may win some games but offense sells the tickets.
This is not a parallel to your topic, but to some degree it might be....Vince Hunter. I wonder if his career would have been different if he had stayed four years before going pro. He certainly dazzled us while he was here.
 

Lil_Train

MI Hall of Famer
Jun 28, 2001
2,007
3,005
113
This goes way, way back but I would go with David Van Dyke. I thought he was a guy who had he worked a bit harder, would have had a long pro career. Haskins mentioned Van Dyke's work ethic was not what it should have been. He had a nice shooting touch for a big man, and was obviously a great shot blocker. At the time I viewed him as a much more skilled guy than Antonio Davis. Of course, Davis had the last laugh by bulking up and gaining experience overseas before making in the NBA for many years. I don't think Van Dyke gained a pound in 4 years at UTEP.
 

utep2step

MI Miner Maniac
Jul 10, 2001
16,165
4,602
113
Most recent is Paul Thomas. Showed promise his freshman year. His sophomore he was rebounding and shot blocking that had hopefulness for March madness. His junior he stepped back because he wanted to be like Durant but UTEP needed him down low. He opened up his senior year against Arizona like a prospect on a mission and he took it to 'zona big men. After that, his fouling problems were such a problem it left all the weight inside the paint on E.O's shoulders who embraced it like an all conference senior first team player.

Prior years and forgotten for his dumb decisions is "Prince" Stewart. He was UTEP's "Giddy" Potts back then: Strong, natural floor general, good court awareness, fairly decent perimeter game, good defender and could turn a game around in minutes. He became ineligible and had to work his way back into shape and lineup. He provided excitement when he came back but just "what if?" comes to mind because he was that special.
 

MinerManiac

MI Hall of Famer
Jun 28, 2001
2,702
2,417
113
Gio St. Amant comes to mind, think he left due to a family illness or something like that.

Gio is an interesting choice. He started his UTEP career out great, with 13.6 ppg, but that fell to 5.9 his sophomore year and 7.2 his junior year. Part of the reason for that is the arrival of Fili, OT, and Jason Williams. As a freshman only he, fellow freshman John Tofi, and Chris Craig were Div 1 caliber players. Obviously the next year the team was much more talented.

But I don't think that's the only reason for the drop in production. I understand that neither BG nor Doc really liked him very much. I believe it was an issue with discipline and work ethic. It's a shame, because I really liked Gio, and at the time was always wondering why he didn't get more minutes. I always liked his game much more than I did Miguel Ayala's, for example, and wanted him to start his junior year.

As to why he left, I've heard rumors, but since I don't know the veracity of them, I won't repeat them here.

This goes way, way back but I would go with David Van Dyke. I thought he was a guy who had he worked a bit harder, would have had a long pro career. Haskins mentioned Van Dyke's work ethic was not what it should have been. He had a nice shooting touch for a big man, and was obviously a great shot blocker. At the time I viewed him as a much more skilled guy than Antonio Davis. Of course, Davis had the last laugh by bulking up and gaining experience overseas before making in the NBA for many years. I don't think Van Dyke gained a pound in 4 years at UTEP.

Good choice Train. I liked Van Dyke as well. Like you mentioned, he had good offensive skills for a man his size, and his timing on his blocked shots was uncanny. He definitely came to UTEP with much better skills than Antonio Davis, who was very raw when he arrived.

I think that the two most obvious reasons why Davis was able to have a long pro career, while Van Dyke never made a roster, are the fact that Davis bulked up where Van Dyke didn't, as you mentioned, and that Davis was more athletic. I remember that one of the post season camps for NBA prospects had a dunking contest where they kept raising the height of the hoop until no one could dunk on it anymore. Davis won.

One of the things that always puzzled me with Van Dyke was what happened to his shot blocking his sophomore year. As a freshman he obliterated the UTEP single season shot blocking record with 90 blocks, but for some reason that fell to 48 his sophomore season. He picked it back up with 82 as a junior and 116 as a senior, but what happened that second year? Did he lack the same defensive intensity his senior year? Did the coaching staff worry that he was trying too hard to block a shot, rather than playing fundamental defense, and tried to reel him in? It's not important, but it's a question that I've had for decades now.

Most recent is Paul Thomas. Showed promise his freshman year. His sophomore he was rebounding and shot blocking that had hopefulness for March madness. His junior he stepped back because he wanted to be like Durant but UTEP needed him down low. He opened up his senior year against Arizona like a prospect on a mission and he took it to 'zona big men. After that, his fouling problems were such a problem it left all the weight inside the paint on E.O's shoulders who embraced it like an all conference senior first team player.

Prior years and forgotten for his dumb decisions is "Prince" Stewart. He was UTEP's "Giddy" Potts back then: Strong, natural floor general, good court awareness, fairly decent perimeter game, good defender and could turn a game around in minutes. He became ineligible and had to work his way back into shape and lineup. He provided excitement when he came back but just "what if?" comes to mind because he was that special.

I'm not so sure that I completely agree with your choices, 2step. While Thomas certainly showed promise at different times in his career, I don't know that I can really say he had a good career. To me he is closer to being a bust.

You're not the only one who saw some promise from him his freshman year. Somehow I missed it. I thought that he showed more promise than fellow freshman Buddha Jones, but that is really, really faint praise. He only ended up averaging 2.1 ppg that season.

Then, coming into his sophomore year, I kept hearing about the great offseason he had, and how he was going to come in much improved. For the first half of that season I didn't see it. However, he really broke out the second half, and it seemed like he was going to live up to the hype he had when he came here. He averaged 8.6 ppg that season on .559 shooting, and 6.1 rpg, all career highs. I can't find the CUSA only stats for that season, which would be more reflective of what he did the second half of that year, but I'm sure that they're significantly better than the aforementioned full season stats.

Coming into his junior year with high expectations, he didn't perform. Neither did he perform as the lone senior on a team made up almost entirely of freshmen and sophomores, when we really needed him. He did prove that he still had the talent by showing occasional flashes. You mentioned the Arizona game. The New Mexico game was another example. Unfortunately, for most of the season, he was a non-factor.

There were high hope for Thomas when he came in. I had high hopes for him after his sophomore year. In that respect he fits the bill. I just can't bring myself to say that he had a good enough career to be on this list. Again, I would place him as a bust.

As far as Prince goes, we both agree that he was a good player. I love the guy. But I feel like he reached his potential his senior year, while you don't think he did. Unfortunately there's no way to know which one of us is right.

His best shooting year was his sophomore year, 1988-89, where he teamed up with Tim Hardaway to form a fantastic backcourt. He averaged 10.8 ppg on .487 from the field and .393 from three. His production slipped significantly the following year, where those numbers were 8.6, .382, and .209, respectively. At least part of that dip in production has to be due to the departure of Hardaway. If you look at the statistics of the returning players in 1989-90, you will see that they're all worse than they were in 1988-89 (sorry, I don't have time to look them up and post them now). It's a testament to how Tim made his teammates better. But you may well be right, 2step, some of the blame might well be placed on Prince for not playing as well as he should have.

I was living in San Diego during the 1990-91 season, and don't know why Prince wasn't on the team that year. I don't believe that it was due to injury. If this is correct, that absence is all on Prince.

Fortunately he did return in 1991-92 to become part of another fantastic backcourt, teaming up with Eddie Rivera. His scoring dramatically improved, increasing to 11.5 ppg, but his shooting percentages still weren't great: .381 overall and .311 from three.

Hmm, looking more closely at Prince's stats than I ever have before, you might be right, 2step. I knew that his production went down the year after Hardaway left, but I had put that down solely to Tim's departure, as, like I said, the whole team's production decreased. A more careful look, however, shows that his shooting his senior year still wasn't where it needed to be despite teaming up with another talented backcourt mate in Rivera . So I'm changing my mind, 2step. While Prince had a good career, he didn't live up to the expectations created during his sophomore season. Good job.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Lil_Train

Lil_Train

MI Hall of Famer
Jun 28, 2001
2,007
3,005
113
I think another guy who I would place in this category is Omega Harris. While he had a solid career at UTEP, I thought he could have been even better. His physical skills were outstanding; and while he did improve over his four years, he struggled with consistency. There were moments when his game was at another level, but others where he just wasn't focused. It was a bit of a roller coaster ride. I think it is pretty well known what may have led to his inconsistencies on the court. That said, he is one of my favorite recent players.
 

miner1liner

MI Hall of Famer
Feb 10, 2014
2,651
2,396
113
I think another guy who I would place in this category is Omega Harris. While he had a solid career at UTEP, I thought he could have been even better. His physical skills were outstanding; and while he did improve over his four years, he struggled with consistency. There were moments when his game was at another level, but others where he just wasn't focused. It was a bit of a roller coaster ride. I think it is pretty well known what may have led to his inconsistencies on the court. That said, he is one of my favorite recent players.
Absolutely; Lil train. What a major disappointment.
 

unihorn

MI Miner Maniac
Dec 1, 2007
6,358
4,042
113
I think another guy who I would place in this category is Omega Harris. While he had a solid career at UTEP, I thought he could have been even better. His physical skills were outstanding; and while he did improve over his four years, he struggled with consistency. There were moments when his game was at another level, but others where he just wasn't focused. It was a bit of a roller coaster ride. I think it is pretty well known what may have led to his inconsistencies on the court. That said, he is one of my favorite recent players.

tenor.gif
 
  • Like
Reactions: Lil_Train

MinerManiac

MI Hall of Famer
Jun 28, 2001
2,702
2,417
113
I think another guy who I would place in this category is Omega Harris. While he had a solid career at UTEP, I thought he could have been even better. His physical skills were outstanding; and while he did improve over his four years, he struggled with consistency. There were moments when his game was at another level, but others where he just wasn't focused. It was a bit of a roller coaster ride. I think it is pretty well known what may have led to his inconsistencies on the court. That said, he is one of my favorite recent players.

Great example, Train. Does anyone else remember how Omega played when he came off of academic suspension his sophomore year? He must have felt like he had something to prove, and was absolutely fantastic his first few games back. It showed what he could have been if he had brought that intensity every game. He still had a solid career, but it could have been so much more.
 

utep2step

MI Miner Maniac
Jul 10, 2001
16,165
4,602
113
I can't argue with your opinions on Roy and Julian. I think especially in Julian's case. He was just never the scorer that he needed to be and now trying to make it in the NBA? Defense may win some games but offense sells the tickets.
This is not a parallel to your topic, but to some degree it might be....Vince Hunter. I wonder if his career would have been different if he had stayed four years before going pro. He certainly dazzled us while he was here.
Julian being the excellent character and team player he is and was at UTEP, voluntarily took on the role as the lock down defender and he didn't complain and helped bring a 2010 CUSA crown. Yes, he was one of my top five going back to the 70's, I'm biased.

Vince's was not self inflicted. This was one hundred percent UTEP AD's pendejada and I while they want this swept under the rug and forgotten, which there is nothing wrong with that, no UTEP rep has never, ever.....I mean ever asked for forgiveness from the fans that I can recall? Vince sold tickets, period. No doubt in my mind UTEP could have gone upward and onward had he stayed.
 

JCorona

MI Miner Maniac
Jun 15, 2014
8,154
8,394
113
I think another guy who I would place in this category is Omega Harris. While he had a solid career at UTEP, I thought he could have been even better. His physical skills were outstanding; and while he did improve over his four years, he struggled with consistency. There were moments when his game was at another level, but others where he just wasn't focused. It was a bit of a roller coaster ride. I think it is pretty well known what may have led to his inconsistencies on the court. That said, he is one of my favorite recent players.
Omega was my choice too. I was going to post about him this morning but went on google to search the all time UTEP leading scorers to see where he ended his career. I got lost, distracted, couldn’t find the info and you beat me to it. Still curious to know where OH ended up on the list though.
 

MinerManiac

MI Hall of Famer
Jun 28, 2001
2,702
2,417
113
Omega was my choice too. I was going to post about him this morning but went on google to search the all time UTEP leading scorers to see where he ended his career. I got lost, distracted, couldn’t find the info and you beat me to it. Still curious to know where OH ended up on the list though.

Omega ended up as our 9th leading scorer all time with 1407 points. He should have been much better, but had a HUGE drop off from his junior to senior season. Here is a link to his stats:

https://www.sports-reference.com/cbb/players/omega-harris-1.html
 

UTEPMiners8106

MI Hall of Famer
Jul 15, 2013
3,484
3,471
113
If anything I think most players who didn’t have the career we though were due to injuries. Matt Wilms comes to mind.
But if I had to throw a name out it would be Jason Williams. As a sophomore on that 04 team he was a junkyard dog on defense and he had tremendous upside. But that mess where he punched Jackson and broke his jaw was unforgivable.
 
Mar 7, 2013
888
937
93
I give Roy Smallwood a pass, his knee injury was severe and watching almost every game in his career at UTEP, he lost a lot of mobility and his jumping ability was highly effected after his surgery. He no longer had a true jump shot and I don't remember many dunk shots his final year. I give him props for adjusting his game and still remaining relevant as a great defensive player and dependable rebounder.

Van Dyke - way to light and never could gain muscle, he had great quickness but was bounced off his shot and moved out underneath to take advantage of his ability. Some players (Bohannon comes to mind) can play light, some can't ever make that adjustment Van Dyke got the best of what he had.

Washburn- he was just never was aggressive enough, he had ability but little instinct and his ball handling never improved while he was here.

Wilms - a combo of Washburn and Van Dyke, he could really run the floor for a 7 footer, but we tried to make him a post up. He had physical issues which hindered his development.
 

UTEPMiners8106

MI Hall of Famer
Jul 15, 2013
3,484
3,471
113
I give Roy Smallwood a pass, his knee injury was severe and watching almost every game in his career at UTEP, he lost a lot of mobility and his jumping ability was highly effected after his surgery. He no longer had a true jump shot and I don't remember many dunk shots his final year. I give him props for adjusting his game and still remaining relevant as a great defensive player and dependable rebounder.

Van Dyke - way to light and never could gain muscle, he had great quickness but was bounced off his shot and moved out underneath to take advantage of his ability. Some players (Bohannon comes to mind) can play light, some can't ever make that adjustment Van Dyke got the best of what he had.

Washburn- he was just never was aggressive enough, he had ability but little instinct and his ball handling never improved while he was here.

Wilms - a combo of Washburn and Van Dyke, he could really run the floor for a 7 footer, but we tried to make him a post up. He had physical issues which hindered his development.

The bad thing with Wilms was he was so skinny and although he was tall he couldn’t establish himself as a dominant low post presence. And then you throw in the fact that he was so injury prone from the knees down he could not add more weight as the years went on a la Cedrick Lang.
 
  • Like
Reactions: ZonaMiner

utep2step

MI Miner Maniac
Jul 10, 2001
16,165
4,602
113
....
Washburn- he was just never was aggressive enough, he had ability but little instinct and his ball handling never improved while he was here......

Are you serious? He was no Stone but he put the clamps on Andrew Wiggins (Kansas) at the Bahamas Tourney in 2013 and UTEP almost pulled a major upset and Wiggins was one of the best players in college basketball that year. I can't find the article but Wiggins even commented on his defense. http://www.espn.com/mens-college-basketball/game?gameId=400520157

Also:

"Washburn frustrated ODU's leading scorer Trey Freeman into a 3/9 outing from the floor, holding him to only six points...." https://www.minerrush.com/2015/2/14/8040847/utep-basketball-utep-smothers-old-dominion-62-47

Freeman was one of CUSA's top players from his freshman to senior year. Of course if you ask ODU fans, they would say he was the greatest in the game, ever.
 

MineroFanatico

MI Miner Maniac
Sep 11, 2015
5,626
8,208
113
S. C
Are you serious? He was no Stone but he put the clamps on Andrew Wiggins (Kansas) at the Bahamas Tourney in 2013 and UTEP almost pulled a major upset and Wiggins was one of the best players in college basketball that year. I can't find the article but Wiggins even commented on his defense. http://www.espn.com/mens-college-basketball/game?gameId=400520157

Also:

"Washburn frustrated ODU's leading scorer Trey Freeman into a 3/9 outing from the floor, holding him to only six points...." https://www.minerrush.com/2015/2/14/8040847/utep-basketball-utep-smothers-old-dominion-62-47

Freeman was one of CUSA's top players from his freshman to senior year. Of course if you ask ODU fans, they would say he was the greatest in the game, ever.

I think he meant he wasn’t aggressive offensively.

If so, I’d have to agree with him.
 
  • Like
Reactions: UTEPfan1966

Cube Jack

MI Hall of Famer
Mar 10, 2006
2,039
1,307
113
El Paso, TX
The post said not to include busts, so I'm iffy o this one, but what about Jonathan Bomba?

I remember all of the hype around signing a 7-footer and then he seemed pretty ordinary the entire time he was here. I remember JoJo Garcia being the more physical player and bomba with score about two points per game. I remember how thrilled everybody was when he won a game on a putback as the buzzer sounded. For a while people talked as if it justified his entire career. Again, maybe he was a bust rather than a disappointment
 

MineroFanatico

MI Miner Maniac
Sep 11, 2015
5,626
8,208
113
The post said not to include busts, so I'm iffy o this one, but what about Jonathan Bomba?

I remember all of the hype around signing a 7-footer and then he seemed pretty ordinary the entire time he was here. I remember JoJo Garcia being the more physical player and bomba with score about two points per game. I remember how thrilled everybody was when he won a game on a putback as the buzzer sounded. For a while people talked as if it justified his entire career. Again, maybe he was a bust rather than a disappointment

Bomba was BUSTa Rhymes!
 
Mar 7, 2013
888
937
93
I was referring to Washburn's offense, he excelled on the defensive end. He was tall, lanky had long arms and could move his feet all of which made him a excellent defender, he never was able to use those attributes to be a consistent offensive treat.

as for Bomba...........well he was 7-0 and I will just leave it at that
 

UTEPMiners8106

MI Hall of Famer
Jul 15, 2013
3,484
3,471
113
I was referring to Washburn's offense, he excelled on the defensive end. He was tall, lanky had long arms and could move his feet all of which made him a excellent defender, he never was able to use those attributes to be a consistent offensive treat.

as for Bomba...........well he was 7-0 and I will just leave it at that

11 ppg for his career at UTEP, I get it that he was not a game changer offensively. But he was a junkyard dog on defense, and for my money we’ve had fewer defensive stoppers than flat out scorers at UTEP in the past 20 years. Plus when you look at the fact that he’s made it to The NBA it really tells you how much they value the hard work that guy puts in. There are few players who are great offensively and defensively. Look at Lebron this year, how many time was he caught standing around as the The Lakers were stuck playing 4 vs 5 on defense.
 

MineroFanatico

MI Miner Maniac
Sep 11, 2015
5,626
8,208
113
To me, the thing with JWash was that he proved how capable he was going to the hole. He made high degree of difficulty layups look routine due to his athleticism and length, the way he’d just glide to the rim. He just rarely did it, though. He developed that nice mid range game and relied heavily upon that. His 3 point game was decent as well. But, he had the talent to be that very rare gem, the guy who could take over a game, however most of us basically identify and remember him as an elite lock down defender. IMO, he displayed all of the ingredients of greatness but he never mixed them all together. Just my .02!
 

UTEPMiners8106

MI Hall of Famer
Jul 15, 2013
3,484
3,471
113
Washburn is probably never going to be a scorer, it’s probably just not his game. When you look at what that Miner team SHOULD have been it’s safe to say that Washburn may have been the 3rd scoring option at best. Isaac Hamilton and Vince Hunter were the obvious scorers.
 
Feb 26, 2008
34
18
8
Gio is an interesting choice. He started his UTEP career out great, with 13.6 ppg, but that fell to 5.9 his sophomore year and 7.2 his junior year. Part of the reason for that is the arrival of Fili, OT, and Jason Williams. As a freshman only he, fellow freshman John Tofi, and Chris Craig were Div 1 caliber players. Obviously the next year the team was much more talented.

But I don't think that's the only reason for the drop in production. I understand that neither BG nor Doc really liked him very much. I believe it was an issue with discipline and work ethic. It's a shame, because I really liked Gio, and at the time was always wondering why he didn't get more minutes. I always liked his game much more than I did Miguel Ayala's, for example, and wanted him to start his junior year.

As to why he left, I've heard rumors, but since I don't know the veracity of them, I won't repeat them here.



Good choice Train. I liked Van Dyke as well. Like you mentioned, he had good offensive skills for a man his size, and his timing on his blocked shots was uncanny. He definitely came to UTEP with much better skills than Antonio Davis, who was very raw when he arrived.

I think that the two most obvious reasons why Davis was able to have a long pro career, while Van Dyke never made a roster, are the fact that Davis bulked up where Van Dyke didn't, as you mentioned, and that Davis was more athletic. I remember that one of the post season camps for NBA prospects had a dunking contest where they kept raising the height of the hoop until no one could dunk on it anymore. Davis won.

One of the things that always puzzled me with Van Dyke was what happened to his shot blocking his sophomore year. As a freshman he obliterated the UTEP single season shot blocking record with 90 blocks, but for some reason that fell to 48 his sophomore season. He picked it back up with 82 as a junior and 116 as a senior, but what happened that second year? Did he lack the same defensive intensity his senior year? Did the coaching staff worry that he was trying too hard to block a shot, rather than playing fundamental defense, and tried to reel him in? It's not important, but it's a question that I've had for decades now.



I'm not so sure that I completely agree with your choices, 2step. While Thomas certainly showed promise at different times in his career, I don't know that I can really say he had a good career. To me he is closer to being a bust.

You're not the only one who saw some promise from him his freshman year. Somehow I missed it. I thought that he showed more promise than fellow freshman Buddha Jones, but that really, really faint praise. He only ended up averaging 2.1 ppg that season.

Then, coming into his sophomore year, I kept hearing about the great offseason he had, and how he was going to come in much improved. For the first half of that season I didn't see it. However, he really broke out the second half, and it seemed like he was going to live up to the hype he had when he came here. He averaged 8.6 ppg that season on .559 shooting, and 6.1 rpg, all career highs. I can't find the CUSA only stats for that season, which would be more reflective of what he did the second half of that year, but I'm sure that they're significantly better than the aforementioned full season stats.

Coming into his junior year with high expectations, he didn't perform. Neither did he perform as the lone senior on a team made up almost entirely of freshmen and sophomores, when we really needed him. He did prove that he still had the talent by showing occasional flashes. You mentioned the Arizona game. The New Mexico game was another example. Unfortunately, for most of the season, he was a non-factor.

There were high hope for Thomas when he came in. I had high hopes for him after his sophomore year. In that respect he fits the bill. I just can't bring myself to say that he had a good enough career to be on this list. Again, I would place him as a bust.

As far as Prince goes, we both agree that he was a good player. I love the guy. But I feel like he reached his potential his senior year, while you don't think he did. Unfortunately there's no way to know which one of us is right.

His best shooting year was his sophomore year, 1988-89, where he teamed up with Tim Hardaway to form a fantastic backcourt. He averaged 10.8 ppg on .487 from the field and .393 from three. His production slipped significantly the following year, where those numbers were 8.6, .382, and .209, respectively. At least part of that dip in production has to be due to the departure of Hardaway. If you look at the statistics of the returning players in 1989-90, you will see that they're all worse than they were in 1988-89 (sorry, I don't have time to look them up and post them now). It's a testament to how Tim made his teammates better. But you may well be right, 2step, some of the blame might well be placed on Prince for not playing as well as he should have.

I was living in San Diego during the 1990-91 season, and don't know why Prince wasn't on the team that year. I don't believe that it was due to injury. If this is correct, that absence is all on Prince.

Fortunately he did return in 1991-92 to become part of another fantastic backcourt, teaming up with Eddie Rivera. His scoring dramatically improved, increasing to 11.5 ppg, but his shooting percentages still weren't great: .381 overall and .311 from three.

Hmm, looking more closely at Prince's stats than I ever have before, you might be right, 2step. I knew that his production went down the year after Hardaway left, but I had put that down solely to Tim's departure, as, like I said, the whole team's production decreased. A more careful look, however, shows that his shooting his senior year still wasn't where it needed to be despite teaming up with another talented backcourt mate in Rivera . So I'm changing my mind, 2step. While Prince had a good career, he didn't live up to the expectations created during his sophomore season. Good job.
What happened his sophmore year was Greg Foster. Cut into his playing time at center. You also had the addition of Max who took away some of his playing time at PF.
 

jdubb66

MI Hall of Famer
Feb 10, 2009
4,043
1,883
113
Van Dyke had a sweet 10' fadeaway jumber. He'd stick it every time. And you can't measure how many shots weren't taken because of him. He'd swat shots on the perimeter as well as the inside.
 

Cube Jack

MI Hall of Famer
Mar 10, 2006
2,039
1,307
113
El Paso, TX
Henry Hall comes to mind. He was the point guard heir not long after Tim Hardaway. He started strong with a lot of promise and an NCAA appearance as well as winning wac freshman of the year. The next year the team had a lot of hope and started at 10 and 2 before losing 11 of its last 17 games. Hall would be declared academically ineligible and never play again
 

Cube Jack

MI Hall of Famer
Mar 10, 2006
2,039
1,307
113
El Paso, TX
Van Dyke had a sweet 10' fadeaway jumber. He'd stick it every time. And you can't measure how many shots weren't taken because of him. He'd swat shots on the perimeter as well as the inside.

I do think Van Dyke had a very good UTEP career, but I think what the poster is saying is that we all expected him to have a career that would put his number in the rafters along with Davis, Foster, Hardaway and Maxey
 
Mar 7, 2013
888
937
93
As fans we often overestimate abilities in young or new players or when a player has a really good season or one or two great games early in their career we automatically expect them to improve on these performances. We may be seeing a player perform at the very top of his potential or a unique set of circumstances which led to the performance and likely not to be duplicated. Some of the above players fit in this category. On the opposite end of the spectrum how many times has a scholarship been given to a kid who really doesn't impress but ends up being a good college player. Cedric Lang, Will Smith, JoJo Garcia, Shariff Fajardo, Antoine Gillispe, Jarvis Mullahon, John Tofi, and a slew of others all weren't all that impressive early be ended being quality players.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Lil_Train

Lil_Train

MI Hall of Famer
Jun 28, 2001
2,007
3,005
113
I do think Van Dyke had a very good UTEP career, but I think what the poster is saying is that we all expected him to have a career that would put his number in the rafters along with Davis, Foster, Hardaway and Maxey
Agree. To me, the disappointment with Van Dyke is that he didn't seem to improve much from a freshman to a senior. He was essentially the same player, which was still very good in my opinion. It is true that his thin frame may have not allowed for much growth, but his overall skills could have improved. It may have been part motivational, but I distinctly remember Haskins commenting on this.
 

jdubb66

MI Hall of Famer
Feb 10, 2009
4,043
1,883
113
I would consider Van Dyke an overachiever. I don't think he was that highly recruited coming out of high school in Arizona specifically because of his frame.

He had a monster sr. year and help lead us to within 3 points of an elite 8 appearance. He played 10+ years in Europe.

If he was a 5-star coming out of high school and he did the above i'd be with you but he wasn't considered anywhere near that.
 
Last edited:
Feb 26, 2008
34
18
8
DVD was not highly recruited out of high school, but to say he didn't improve over his four years is not correct. He became a much more prolific scorer. His senior year he was the SBT MVP i beleive beating TU. He played the majority of his pro career in Japan and Australia. I cant beleive we did not offer his son. Look at his box score (cowley college) versus South Plains JC. He dominated against 3 future Red Raiders.
 

Cube Jack

MI Hall of Famer
Mar 10, 2006
2,039
1,307
113
El Paso, TX
I guess you can add Jordan Lathon to this. He looked like he'd be a major star and cornerstone of the team for many years. Now he'll mostly be remembered for quitting.
 
Mar 7, 2013
888
937
93
Don't fully understand Lathon's issue as he appeared to have a lot of potential. I do think he got some bad advise, hit the soph slump and this effected his play and attitude. I also think the mechanics of his shot was off and it always appeared to be rough. Your career in college is limited when you can't be more consistent on the outside. Hate to say this but Bienimy may be in the same mold, but does appear to have a better all round game than Lathon.
 

axingfools1

MI Hall of Famer
Nov 6, 2011
4,952
5,887
113
We don't need a PG that is hot or cold. We need a steady leader that can control the game and secure the ball. We have enough talent around Bienemy and he has the experience we need.

Lathon was tough and clutch at times, but other times just brought zero to the game. If he could play like he did against Marquette, Texas Tech and Marshall then there is still tons of potential and it will be a steal for Milwaukee. I wish him good luck.
 

Latest posts