Men’s Basketball welcomes largest freshman class in history

Devon Williams 

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3 September 2019

     For the 2019-2020 year, the Men’s basketball team has eight new members joining. This will be the largest group in program history and will have a lasting impact on the team culture and the way they operate in the future, according to Head Coach Jeff Culver. According to Culver, this will be a “redefining year.” 

     The men’s basketball team has 16 players on its roster, which means half of the team will be new arrivals. 

     “We’re excited,” said Culver. “It’s the biggest class we’ve had, now going into our eighth season. Five true freshmen and three transfers.” The new men on the team include Noah Baca, William Becker, Ky Blodget, Alijah Comithier, Parker Gaddis, Johnnie Jones III, Payton Kaiser and Patrick Lanipekun. Five of the eight are true freshmen, with Becker, Gaddis, and Jones coming in as transfers from out of state.  

     Culver said that the new players will build a foundation for the team. Preseason practice begins this month in preparation for the Nov. 4 home opener against Colorado College. 

    Culver does not place much weight on preseason rankings since the people behind the voting don’t have any indication of the new men coming into the program. 

     “We’ll certainly be curious to see where everyone is ranked, but we certainly won’t prioritize those rankings as much,” said Culver. 

     Culver said it will be adjustment to how preseason usually occurs. Rather than a regular practice, Culver said the team and coaches will work on getting to know each other and establishing a team dynamic.  

     “It’ll be a different type of preseason challenge for us trying to get everyone on the same page,” said Culver. 

     It will be up to the returning core of athletes — players like redshirt seniors Blend Avdili and Ed Bourke — to help coach the new arrivals and get them used to UCCS basketball. It will be up to the returning core of the team to become leaders and step up in order to help the team adjust and adapt to the new culture, and Culver is confident that they will do so. 

     The new players are inexperience with playing for the audience that Culver said they will have as part of the team at UCCS, but he said that they will be great for the program going forward. 

     Of course, this does not guarantee playing time for everyone. Culver said that, inevitably, he and his assistant, Alex Snyder, will have to redshirt at least two athletes. 

     “Right now, seven of our 16 guys have logged a redshirt year at some point in their career, so it’s not uncommon for us to use that year to get a guy bigger, stronger, faster and get them acclimated to college basketball before we start burning their seasons of competition,” Culver said. 

     Culver does not see this as a rebuilding year, but a redefining year. The coaches normally bring in three or four new athletes and doubling that is much more of a challenge.  

     With half of the team being new to the culture of the UCCS team, there will be plenty of adjustments and reestablishment of the groundwork. “We can’t start working with them for another week-and-a-half or so, but when we do, we’re excited about getting in the gym with a lot of new faces and figuring out what we have,” said Culver.