High above the court of the Convocation Center hang two new banners. On one banner, the Roadrunners’ 2010-2011 Southland basketball championship is honored. On the other, the Roadrunners’ trip to the 2011 NCAA tournament, when they defeated Alabama State in the opening round before falling to Ohio State in the second round, is honored.
Since the Roadrunners men’s basketball won their fourth conference championship they have lost one player to graduation, Devin Gibson but they acquired three new Roadrunners to fill the void.
“To be honest I expect big things from all three of them,” Head Coach Brooks Thompson said. “We are really excited about all three of them.”
The three are freshman guard A.J. Price, junior guard Michael Hale and junior guard Kannon Burrage.
Hale comes to UTSA from North Idaho College where he was first team All-Scenic West Conference and second-team National Junior College Athletic Association All-America honors. While at North Idaho, Hale averaged 17.8 points per game, 3.7 rebounds per game and 4.2 assists per game while leading his team to a No. 1 national ranking at one point last season.
“He will probably hear for a whole year that he is Devin Gibson’s replacement,” Thompson said. “He just needs to come in and make his own mark.”
Hale welcomes the opportunity to play for UTSA.
“This is the best fit for me,” Hale said. “I pretty much fell in love with it when I came here.
Burrage spent the last two seasons playing for Des Moines Area Community College where he averaged 20.7 points per game, 5.2 rebounds per game, 2.2 assists per game and 1.2 steals per game.
“He is somebody like I have never coached before,” Thompson said. “He can shoot the three but he can also get the ball to the rim and play above the rim.”
In the first few weeks of practice, Burrage has adjusted well to being a Roadrunner. An added benefit to the team might be his positive attitude.
“I like the school and the coaches,” Burrage said. “The sun is always shining; where I am from its 30 degrees with snow this time of year.”
Price was a star point guard at The Colony High School in The Colony, Texas, where he averaged 10.4 points per game, 3.9 rebounds per game, 3.4 assists per game and 1.6 steals per game. His junior year was his best year. He led his team to a 30-9 record and appearance in the 4A state championship game where they fell to Houston Yates.
“AJ will be the biggest surprise. He will back up Mike Hale at the point guard,” Thompson said. “I am surprised because he has made the transition from high school to division one college basketball really well.”
The youngster of the group, Price has had to make the biggest jump of the group, going from high school to college.
“It’s been difficult to adjust,” Price said. “But I have my coaches and teammates to help.”
The Roadrunners will get their first look at the new players in actual game play when they open the season Friday on the road in El Paso against the UTEP Miners. Tip is scheduled for 8 p.m. CST.