UIC signed Toledo transfer Hayden Humes on Wednesday, which provides us the perfect opportunity to check in with the Flames as Moore hits the nine-month mark of his tenure on the near West Side.
To put it mildly, the Flames are going to have a new look in 2011-12. Let’s look at the final stats from the team’s 7-24 season and point out what’s changing. For example, the Flames won’t have either their top four or top five scorers from a year ago.
When I list a player’s year, it’s his eligibility for the upcoming season.
OUT OF ELIGIBILITY/GRADUATING:
G Robo Kreps: 15.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2.9 apg
F Paul Carter: 14.7 ppg, 8.0 rpg
F Brad Birton: 5.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg
C K.C. Robbins: 4.1 ppg, 3.0 rpg
Sr. G Zavion Neely: 8.3 ppg (academically ineligible at mid-year)
So. G Shawn King: 0.6 ppg
DROPPING FROM SCHOLARSHIP TO WALK-ON STATUS:
So. F Anthony Kelley (0.1 ppg) from Aurora Central
WALK-ONS WHOSE STATUS HAVE YET TO BE DECIDED:
G Dipanjot Singh (5.5 ppg; 19.3 mpg)
G Corey Gray (3.0 ppg, 16.4 mpg)
G Matt Bush (26 minutes)
G Arman Rasul (15 minutes)
RETURNING SCHOLARSHIP PLAYERS:
Sr. C Darrin Williams (4.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 15.9 mpg)
Sr. C Dorian Tyler (2.4 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 9.0 mpg)
Sr. PF Paris Carter (4.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg)
So. PF Eddie Denard (0.0 ppg, 0.3 rpg)
Sr. G Daniel Barnes (3.8 ppg)**
**According to UIC coach Howard Moore, Barnes’ status is up in the air. He played just 5 games last year due to knee woes. Barnes might return…he might get a redshirt year for last season…he might not play at all.
NOW FOR THE NEW GUYS:
PG Greg Travis (Curie HS)
SG Jerome Brown (Morgan Park HS)
SG Marc Brown (Dallas, Tex.)
SF Ahman Fells (Simeon HS)
SF Rob Robinson (St. John’s Military Academy/Simeon HS)
C Will Simonton (Fishburne Military Academy in Va.)
PF/C Hayden Humes (5.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg as a redshirt freshman at Toledo)**
**While you’d think Humes must sit out a transfer year, Moore hopes the NCAA will show some leniency and allow him to play immediately. Here’s what happened: Toledo got smacked by the NCAA for poor APR scores and lost three scholarships. The Rockets had 11 players on scholarship, so one guy had to take the hit. Humes was that guy…and he opted to transfer rather than drop to walk-on status.
“He’s kind of a victim here,” Moore said. “He didn’t really want to leave. If it’s all about the student-athlete, which is what we’re supposed to be about…”
If Humes gets the green light to play, then he’ll have three seasons at UIC. If not, he’ll have two more seasons after he sits out this one.
Either way, take a look at the list of UIC returnees. Not many perimeter players. That means the freshmen are going to be leaned on heavily. Moore half-jokingly referred to his freshmen as the “Flame Five.”
“We made the decision to do this with four-year kids,” Moore said. “We have the ability to take our time and develop players…but they’re not going to develop by watching. They’re going to come in with the mindset that they’re going to be on the floor.”
Moore and his coaching staff will ride a line with the youngsters. While he doesn’t want them to feel pressure to rise to the top of the Horizon League immediately, he does expect the team to be competitive, to be better defensively than last year’s bunch.
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the change on UIC’s coaching staff. Mike Mennenga departed after the season and Moore brought in former Indiana guard (and former Texas Tech assistant) Stew Robinson to fill the void. Robinson spent the last eight years at Texas Tech working for Bob Knight and Pat Knight.
A thumbnail on a few of the new guys:
Travis: Started at the point for four years at Curie. “His ceiling is pretty high,” Moore said. “He’s battle-tested. The biggest thing for Greg: Learning how to run a college team.”
J. Brown: “I’m biased, but I think he’s the best shooter in Illinois,” Moore said. The Flames want to make him more than a catch-and-shoot guy, though.
M. Brown: Moore referred to him simply as a “gamer.” The Dallas native can score, can slash to the hoop and, perhaps most important, has a solid 6-foot-4 frame built to defend the Horizon’s tough perimeter players.
Robinson: Moore thinks the lefty found himself during his prep-school year. While Robinson played on Simeon’s 2010 Class 4A state champion, he had a limited role on a loaded squad. He played just 2 minutes in the state-title game, for example, and averaged 1.8 points per game for the season. But Robinson averaged 12.5 points and 4.2 rebounds for a 20-4 St. John’s team.
At present, UIC has 12 players on scholarship. That’s the maximum for now because the Flames’ poor APR score cost them a ride last year, but Moore is hopeful they might get No. 13 back. If so (and even if not), UIC is looking for another point guard. Travis is the only one on the roster defined as a PG.
“Preferably a junior-college point guard,” Moore said. “We’re still looking at more players. We’re not done.”