EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The Sun Bowl Association and WestStar announced Thursday that the men’s UTEP Miners basketball team will be joined by Bradley University, Sam Houston State, and North Carolina Central for the annual WestStar Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational.

The tournament committee of the Sun Bowl invitational chose teams that have recently won their conference championships.

“We take great pride in bringing a competitive field to the WestStar Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational,” said Barry Kobren, tournament director.  “This year is no exception with teams that will all be competing for an NCAA tournament bid next March.  If past success is any indication, we will have a battle to see who wins the championship trophy.”  

The Sun Bowl Invitational is set to take place December 21-22 at the Don Haskins Center.

Bradley makes their first visit to the Sun Bowl Invitational, UTEP officials said. The team, coached by Brian Wardle, won back-to-back championships in 2019 and 2020, making them a Missouri Valley conference contender.

Bradley faced UTEP in a 1986 NCAA tournament game. Bradley was led by the team’s all-time leading scorer, Hersey Hawkins, while UTEP’s team had all-star players Jeep Jackson and Tim Hardaway.

For Sam Houston State, the 2021 tournament will make it the school’s third time participating in the Sun Bowl Invitational. They were featured in the invitational back in 2010 and 2015.

The Sam Houston State Bearkats are led by head coach, Jason Hooten, who has averaged 20 wins a season and had led the team to play postseason over a six-year period. The BearKats begin the season in the Western Athletic Conference this year.

Just like Bradley University, this will also be North Carolina Central’s first time participating in the invitational. The team is led by coach Levelle Moton, who has completed 11 seasons with the team.

The North Carolina Central Eagles won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament three years in a row and has appeared in the NCAA tournament in 2014, 2017, 2018, and 2019.

Under the direction of first-year head coach, Joe Golding, the Miners will bring back leading scorer, Souley Boum, who averaged 18.8 points per game. Boum earned a spot on the Conference-USA team and ranked third on the 2020-2021 team.

Also back in the fold is Jamal Bieniemy, who paced the team with 4.0 assists per contest to rate sixth in the league. UTEP’s deep backcourt will also feature Christian Agnew, Keonte Kennedy, and Tydus Verhoeven.

There are a bevy of newcomers for Golding, including Bonke Maring from Blinn College, Jorell Saterfield from Ranger College, freshman post, Kevin Kalu, freshman point guard from France, Kezza Giffa, Georgetown transfer, Jamari Sibley, and Oregon transfer, Alfred Hollins.

“We have another competitive tournament lined-up for college basketball fans to enjoy,” said Bernie Olivas, Sun Bowl executive director.  “This tournament has become a tradition and the history of teams and players that have come through El Paso is tremendous. Our basketball committee, which is led by Barry Kobren, continues to seek out and work towards bringing quality teams to the Don Haskins Center.”

For more information on the 2021 WestStar Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational, visit www.sunbowl.org.

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