Who is the new president of the United States? I don’t know. As for who will be Southland Conference (SLC) Players of the Year, look no further than the UTSA Basketball teams.
The women’s basketball team is returning seven players including three starters (senior Monica Gibbs, senior Onika Anderson, sophomore Whitney York).
With Anderson available to the play the whole season, Gibbs will have competition for SLC Player of the Year.
These two score at will. Anderson has great footwork in the low post and there probably isn’t any player in the conference that can contain Gibbs one-on-one.
Gibbs’ scoring dropped a tad last season, but her assist total went way up-139 to 195. The result: she broke the school’s all-time assists record with 472 and led UTSA to its first NCAA tournament appearance. Gibbs is a legitimate WNBA prospect and Player of the Year.
Be sure to keep your eye on sophomore Jordan Stark, a 3-point specialist. As a freshman, Stark made 56 treys. If she continues on the same pace, with increased playing time, she will shatter Terrie Davis’ school record of 195.
“Everyone is fitting into the system really well,” Head Coach Rae Rippetoe-Blair said. “We definitely are not at the point we were at last season. You don’t want to peak too early. We still have a lot to do.”
As for the men’s basketball team, the best-kept secret in the conference stands high at 5′ 7 tall-junior Omar Johnson. He sat out all of last season with a foot injury but is healthy and ready to go.
In junior college, Johnson was an All-American and was named first-team all-Region at Barton County Community College. He averaged 17 points a game. Match him up with the SLC Freshmen of the Year last year, point guard Devin Gibson, and you have one of the best backcourts in the conference.
“It will be very hard to keep either of them in front of you when defending,” Head Coach Brooks Thompson said.
Down low, 720 pounds of juniors Josh Booney (195 lbs), Richie Fohlic (240 lbs) and Demarco Stepter (285 lbs) will be the missing roadblocks that the team didn’t have last year.
Returning starters, seniors Travis Gabbidon and Joey Shank round out the backbone of the team. Last season, Gabbidon led the team in scoring with 13.9 points a game before going down with a season ending injury. He scored in double digits in all but two of the games he played. Expect nothing less.
Shank will lead the conference in 3-pointing-that’s shots made, shots attempted and shooting percentage.
This team is a lot more athletic and will run up and down the court against any team. They all shoot exceptionally well and will be more offensive oriented.
“We’ve got some pretty darn talented players on the team,” Thompson said. “But we have a long way to go to be where we want to be.”