Unselfish. Loyal. Dedicated. Hard work. Competitive. Uncommon. In fact, UTSA’s men’s basketball team wears the slogan on their shorts and shirts.
The Roadrunners enter the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) for their first and only season before joining Conference USA in 2013. The men’s team is coached by Brooks Thompson in his seventh year coaching at UTSA. He has lead the program to its best record over a four-year period with 76 wins dating back to the 2008-2009 season.
“We have a lot of unselfish players on this team-guys who will play for one another,” Thompson said. “I know we have great team guys who work hard every day and are a joy to coach.”
In a conference that welcomes five new teams (Denver, Seattle U, UT Arlington, UTSA, and Texas State), the WAC boasts three seven-footers and even a player who stands at 7 feet 5 inches.
In order to compete in the much taller WAC conference, the UTSA coaching staff recruited Triton “Tank” Mayberry, a 6’10” center transfer student from Navarro Junior College; Edrico McGregor, a 6’8″ forward transfer from North Idaho College; Philip Jones, a 6’6″ forward; and Lucas O’Brian, 6’10” center and a top 75 recruit coming out of high school for height and length.
The Roadrunners welcome back six returning lettermen from last year’s 18-14 team.
“Our veterans are definitely going to make a great impact because of their experience. I’m excited about them is ’cause of their leadership qualities and their character,” said Thompson.
The three returning players, who look forward to contributing the most this upcoming season, are senior point guard Michael Hale III, senior shooting guard Kannon Burrage, and junior small forward Jeromie Hill.
If the Roadrunners’ frontcourt is a bright spot for the team, the backcourt is another story. Hale and Burrage will play the majority of the game. Hale started 24 games and appeared in 31 games last season; he averaged 9.9 points per game with 3.4 assists and had 40 steals. Burrage came off the bench for 28 games and started in three others. He led the team in scoring with 13.5 points per game and shot with 78.9 percent from the free-throw line. If either Hale or Burrage get injured, the ‘Runners don’t have a lot of options to fill those slots. Redshirt freshman A.J. Price is familiar with Thompson’s system, but he didn’t get much playing time with the team last season. A pair of walk-ons, senior guard Devon Augsi and sophomore guard Jeremy Hines, will add depth to the backcourt but neither player has any experience at the division-one level.
The ‘Runners also hope to get a boost from the return of senior forward Larry Wilkins. Wilkins suffered a season-ending Achilles tendon tear in July of 2011. The NCAA granted him a sixth year of eligibility.
“I’m 100% now. I did a lot of rehab over the summer. The injury made me stronger, ya know, it made me want to be out here more. I’m going to lay it all on the line this season,” said Wilkins.
Selflessness, team and “laying it all on the line” are what’s “common” about the UTSA Roadrunners this season.
“We have a lot of guys who are playing for one another this season. It’s not like last year’s team with a bunch of individuals,” said Hill.
Roadrunner fans can expect a much taller, stronger and athletic team this season. It’s a new team, but the guys are a cohesive group. The brand of basketball that will be played this season by the Roadrunners is going to be really exciting to watch.
The Birds play Southeastern Oklahoma at the Convocation Center at 7 p.m. for their first home game of the season on Nov. 1. On Nov. 29 the ‘Runners head to Eugene, Oregon to play the Ducks at 9 p.m. Fans can catch that game on Time Warner Cable’s PAC-12 Network.