UCO Men’s Basketball Preview
Jake Hammond,No. 32 defends the home basket at the UCO vs. Central Missouri Men’s game at the Hamilton Field House on February 2, 2017. (Provided/Vista Archives)
The University of Central Oklahoma men’s basketball team starts their season this Friday following an offseason that included several Division I transfers.
Last year the Bronchos finished 17-12, making it to the second round of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) Tournament. This year, head coach Tom Hankins said he has high hopes for his team.
“I will be disappointed if we don’t make the NCAA tournament this year,” Hankins said.
Hankins said coming into this season they wanted to add more size to their team, as they struggled defensively at times with their smaller guards. Last year, the Bronchos were 7th out of 14 teams in the MIAA in defensive scoring, allowing 70.1 points per game. Hankins said that the transfers they added throughout the offseason will help the team make the next step defensively.
“All the guys that we’ve got this year have been a great fit,” Hankins said.
Anthony Roberson, a transfer from Texas State, said he joined UCO so he could be closer to his brother Andre Roberson, who is a guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder. However, two weeks ago Roberson broke his hand during practice. Hankins said Roberson broke it when he got his hand caught while trying to fight through a screen, but they hope to get him back in early December.
When Roberson does return, Hankins is excited about the impact he can make on both ends of the floor.
“He’s a phenomenal defender, rebounder and he will be a very good scorer at this level,” Hankins said.
Roberson last played at Texas State, where he averaged 4.7 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.
Some other additions over the offseason include Phabian Glasco and Marqueese Grayson. Glasco is a 6-foot-7 power forward/center who transferred to UCO from Western Kentucky for his junior year.
“He’s going to rebound a lot for us and really help us defensively and score around the basket,” Hankins said.
Grayson, on the other hand, is a senior and transferred from the University of Albany. Hankins said Grayson is a great 3-point shooter and is capable of scoring in a variety of ways. The guard out of Tomball, Texas averaged 4.8 points and shot 38.6 percent from the three-point line in 16.9 minutes per game.
The Bronchos also return several starters from last year such as Corbin Byford, Josh Holliday, Marquise Johnson, Jake Hammond and Jordan London. Byford is a player Hankins said he is happy to have back as he enters this year as a sixth-year senior after applying for an injury hardship ruling.
This ruling allows a player to request an additional year if they suffered an injury that forced them to miss more than two contests or 20 percent of their season schedule (CHECK). Byford is a returning Second-Team All-MIAA who averaged 12.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.
There are also a couple of freshman that Hankins said to keep an eye out for. Jordan Hemphill and Kyle Keener are two newcomers Hankins said he expects to have an impact this season.
Hemphill is a 6-foot-5 guard from Arkansas who Hankins said he expects to have a great career at UCO. During his final year in high school, Hemphill won Class 7A West Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year.
Keener is a player Hankins said has made quite the impression over the offseason. Keener is a 6-foot-7 forward from Sand Springs, Oklahoma. Who Hankins said they were considering red shirting. However, once they saw his performance on the court, Hankins said they couldn’t afford to keep him off the floor.
“He’s played so well and his basketball IQ is so high,” Hankins said. “When he’s in the game, good things happen.”
With these transfer players, and with incoming freshman such as Hemphill and Keener, Hankins said he has a very unselfish, experienced and deep roster.
“If we can continue to stay healthy, we’ve got 10 guys that can contribute,” Hankins said. “If we can get everyone to buy in and be all about the end result of the team then I think we have a chance to be really really good.”