EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – There’s now less than 30 days before UTEP opens year two of the Joe Golding era on the road at Texas.
With 13 new players on the roster, the Miners will lean on its three returners for leadership. A lot is expected of redshirt sophomore Jamari Sibley, in particular.
As a transfer from Georgetown last year, Sibley had a big role. He played in 33 games, starting 23 of them and averaged five points and four rebounds per game at the power forward position.
Now though, Sibley has made the transition to small forward in the offseason, meaning he’ll be on the perimeter a lot more. At 6’8, 185 pounds, he’ll be one of the taller players at his position in Conference USA.
By his own admission, his move from the post to the perimeter has been a slow process, but as the season creeps closer, Golding is pleased with his progress.
Golding wants him to use that to his advantage defensively, while continuing to work on his skills on that end of the court. His length makes him a threat defensively and his raw offense skills had made some strides in the offseason.
“We think he could be one of the better defenders on our team if you would make a commitment on that end of the floor and he’s trying,” Golding said. “Offensively, he’s learning like all of the guys. He’s actually brand new just like the 10 new guys because he hasn’t played out there on the perimeter. So he’s learning his role and I think he’s really starting to show signs of understanding and getting it. He’s making open shots.”
Sibley was position-less in high school, playing all over the court for Oak Hill Academy and Nicolet High School in Milwaukee, Wisc.
He’s tapping into that versatility now for UTEP and becoming a leader for a Miners team with an overhauled roster.
“I used to guard on the wing so it’s coming back to me naturally,” Sibley said. “I need to come out here every day ready to play and bring the energy that everyone else has to have.”
Two aspects of Sibley’s game stick out that should help him transition well to small forward. First, he shot 35% from three-point range last year; second, he led UTEP with 34 blocked shots. Both should aid him immensely in his new role.
His skillset is good for the small forward position. If Sibley can continue to grow into that role, the Miners will be better for it.