EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – The start of the 2021-22 UTEP men’s basketball season is still months away, but preparations can never begin too early.
Under new head coach Joe Golding, the Miners have been working out much of the summer and will spend eight weeks together in El Paso getting ready for the true start of the season in the fall.
KTSM got its first view of the new-look Miners at a practice at the Foster Stevens Center on Friday. Golding was as energetic as advertised, putting his team through an hour-long workout, showcasing a variety of drills.
There’s some new faces on hand, including Georgetown transfer Jamari Sibley and former Ranger College and Mayfield High School star Jorell Saterfield. However, the players that return are what make UTEP a potential threat to have a strong season in 2021-22.
Four starters return: guards Jamal Bieniemy, Souley Boum and Keonte Kennedy, and forward Tydus Verhoeven. Verhoeven is back with the Miners after briefly entering the NCAA Transfer Portal at the end of last season. He pointed to Golding as the reason he elected to stay at UTEP.
“Coach Golding has always said I was his toughest recruit to come back, but the big thing for me was that I love the city of El Paso and it was tough for me to leave with that,” Verhoeven said. “I wanted to meet with Coach Golding and see what he had to say. The more I talked with him and the more I practiced here the more I felt like this is where I needed to be.”
With star power forward Bryson Williams transferring to Texas Tech, Verhoeven takes on an important role of being the leader amongst the big men. With the four starters back, plus sixth man Christian Agnew in the fold, Golding is hopeful for a fast start to the season.
“The story is going to be about those seven scholarship guys that decided to come back to UTEP,” Golding said. “There’s a big difference between recruiting six guys and recruiting 10 or 11. Just having some continuity and having some guys back, I think really helps.”
UTEP has yet to release its nonconference schedule, but are expected to soon.