As more and more preseason rankings come out prior to the 2022-23 season, it’s apparent the UT-Arlington Mavericks aren’t getting much love.
In the Field of 68 almanac, the Mavericks are picked to finish 12th out of 13 teams. In the Blue Ribbon preview, they don’t even have UT-Arlington in their rankings. And, as followers of WAC Hoops Digest know, the Mavericks are not talked about as title contenders for 2022-23.
And UTA fans are taking notice, too.
Can't wait for the preview. Just check the conference standings in March. UTA will be on top. Coach Young = coach of year.
— TheRustyMaverick (@TheRustyMav) October 4, 2022
— Marty Wieder, AICP (@MartyWieder) October 4, 2022
So, are the Mavericks being overlooked? Let’s take a look at things.
JUCO Recruits Will Be Important
Greg Young is entering his second year as head coach at UT-Arlington. However, Young is entering his 14th season with the Mavericks as he has served as assistant, associate head coach and now head coach. And Young will have a lot of new faces in 2022-23.
These new faces include a pair of JUCO Top-100 recruits. And also includes an Honorable Mention JUCO All-American.
Dario Domingos out of New Mexico Junior College was No. 60. Kyron Gibson from Lee was No. 83. And it could be argued that 6-4 junior guard Taj Anderson could have been on that top-100 list, as well. Anderson earned Honorable Mention All-American honors at Indian Hills after averaging 13 points per game. The NJCAA All-Region XI First Team selection knocked down 81 3-pointers and scored in double figures 19 times.
Domingos is a 6-8 sophomore who averaged 12 points and 6.9 rebounds per game at NMJC. The Luanda, Angola native shot 62 percent from the field in 2021-22.
Gibson is a Second Team All-American selection out of Lee College. The 6-1 guard averaged 17 points, 6.4 assists and 3.9 rebounds per contest. Gibson had 206 assists, good for 7th in the country while also knocking down 70 3-pointers.
There is potential here for these three JUCO transfers. And all three will have opportunities immediately for the Mavericks.
Marion Humphrey (SLCC), and Shaysten Cornish (Mountain View CC) are the other JUCO recruits on the UTA roster.
UTA lost five of its top-7 scorers from the 2021-22 squad. So, you can see why these JUCO transfers will play significant roles for the Mavericks.
Returners Will Have Increased Roles
The Mavericks have four returners who averaged double figure minutes in 2021-22. 6-6 guard Pedro Castro is the lone starter back for Greg Young and the Mavericks. Before suffering a season-ending back injury, Castro averaged 7.1 points and 3.8 rebounds. Castro is going to join the 1,000-point club in 2022-23 and had a season-high 17 points at San Diego State in November.
Shemar Wilson, Montez Young Jr., and Brandyn Talbot are the other returners for UTA.
And Wilson might be the player to watch for the Mavericks. At 6-9, Wilson will protect the paint, rebound, and defend. But, with UTA losing five of its top-6 scorers, Wilson will have to improve upon the 5.2 points in 2022-23. That will most likely happen because Wilson will play more than 13.5 minutes per game for the Mavericks.
Same with Young and Talbot who averaged 14.3 and 11.8 minutes per game in 2021-22.
How Will the Power 6 Transfer Fare?
Similar to what The Almanac said, a lot of eyes will be on Texas A&M transfer Aaron Cash. The 6-6 guard has size and length to compete with the best guards in the WAC. Cash appeared in 37 games for the Aggies in 2021-22. The stats don’t jump out at you as Cash averaged 2.4 points and 3.0 rebounds per contest while shooting 53.4 percent from the floor.
Teddy Allen came into the WAC in 2021-22 as a known scorer. Holland Woods had an outstanding 2021-22 for GCU. And Savion Flagg was a First Team All-WAC selection for Sam Houston. Will Aaron Cash be another one of those Power 6 transfers to have a standout season in the WAC? It remains to be seen.
What’s the Verdict?
No, they aren’t being overlooked.
UTA fans feel their team is being overlooked. It’s not unusual for fan bases to feel that way in the preseason. But when you look at the Mavericks from every angle, there are a lot of question marks.
Where will the scoring come from?
Will the lack of size hurt? For reference, the Mavericks have two players taller than 6-8.
How will the JUCO transfers fare?
Can the Mavericks win more in a better league than its former league, the Sun Belt Conference?
It remains to be seen. But because of these questions and because of the loss of five of top-6 scorers, the Mavericks will be lower in most preseason rankings. Just remember Maverick fans, games aren’t played on paper.
Since 2011-12, UT-Arlington has had four 20-plus win seasons. And the Mavericks have an NCAA Tournament appearance under their belts in 2008. But since the record setting 27-win 2016-17 season, things haven’t been as pretty. The win totals are 21, 17, 14, 13 and 11. All those were in the Sun Belt Conference, which, per KenPom, is ranked lower than the WAC.
Success in 2022-23 will be based upon how quickly Greg Young can get his new faces to mesh. He’s done it before. So, why can’t he do it again?