Year one in the WAC was somewhat of a success for the Sam Houston Bearkats men’s basketball team. 13-5 and finished 5th in the WAC standings. Not too bad. A home loss to Utah Valley will haunt the Bearkats as will a road loss at Tarleton early on in WAC play.
The losses of Savion Flagg and DeMarkus Lampley will hurt. Flagg was a First Team All-WAC selection after being one of the league leaders in points and rebounds. Lampley was a savvy vet who made big shot after big shot.
But, in 2022-23, the Bearkats are deeper all over the floor. The guard line is the deepest part of the roster as it boosts 7-8 guys that can handle the ball at any time. Tristan Ikpe is back to man the paint and he has some help in Kansas State big man Kaosi Ezeagu.
The non-conference slate isn’t too favorable. But, we will get a home and home with Stephen F. Austin in the last season the two rivals are conference foes.
235-153 overall, 140-66 conference play
19-14 overall, 13-5 WAC
Lost to GCU in the WAC Quarterfinals
Savion Flagg – Graduated
Demarkus Lampley – Graduated
Javon Grant – Transfer (Butler Junior College)
Jarren Cook – Transfer (Tyler Junior College)
Kuba Karwowski – Graduated
Ronald Mitchell Jr. 6-3, Jr., G, Transfer (UMass Lowell)
Kaosi Ezeagu 6-10, Jr., F Transfer (Kansas State)
Qua Grant 6-1, So., G Transfer (Wichita State)
Lamar Wilkerson 6-4, So., G Transfer (Three Rivers CC)
Anthony Wrzeszcz 6-3, Fr., G
Jacoby Bishop 6-2, So., G Transfer (Howard College)
Tristan Ikpe, 6-6, Sr., F
Jaden Ray, 5-10, Jr., G
Javion May, 6-2, Jr., G
Donte Powers, 6-2, Sr., G
Projected Starting 5:
1 – Qua Grant
2 – Donte Powers
3 – Javion May
4 – Tristan Ikpe
5 – Kaosi Ezeagu
Well, here it is. The final season in the WAC for the Sam Houston Bearkats. Jason Hooten and his staff have loaded, too. All reports are that 6-10 forward Kaosi Ezeagu is going to be a really good big in the league. Qua Grant can score it and be a floor leader. And the Bearkats may be the deepest team in the WAC at the guard line. Javion May, Jaden Ray and Donte Powers all played significant minutes for the Bearkats in 2021-22.
And now you add Grant, Lamar Wilkerson, and Ronald Mitchell Jr. to the mix and you can see the depth.
Keep an eye on freshman guard Anthony Wrzeszcz. He has been playing overseas all Summer and has been impressive. The big question is how long it will take him to get up to speed in Hooten’s system when he gets on campus.
The big signing may be Kansas State transfer Kaosi Ezeagu. At 6-10, Ezeagu presents a physical rim protector that Sam Houston missed last year. yes, Kuba Karwowski showed glimpses but the consistency wasn’t there. Yes, Ezeagu’s stats don’t jump off the page. But his presence will allow Tristan Ikpe to play his more natural position at the four. According to associate head coach Chris Mudge, Ezeagu changes the Bearkats in a positive way and will start for them in November.
Does Sam Houston have enough pieces to matchup in the WAC? Well, in 2021-22, WAC Hoops Digest picked them 7th. And the Bearkats, behind Savion Flagg, shocked a lot of people by winning seven of their first eight games in WAC play. This includes the 26-point throttling of New Mexico State. The Bearkats were good at home, finishing with an 11-2 record at Johnson Coliseum. But, winning on the road is what will win championships. Sam Houston had WAC road losses at Tarleton, at Seattle, at Stephen F. Austin and at Grand Canyon. And the average margin of defeat in those four games was 13.5 points.
This Sam Houston squad is deep. Now it is about putting it together and doing something that hasn’t been done under Jason Hooten. And that is go to the NCAA Tournament.
The Sam Houston Bearkats have a brutal non-conference schedule. Most of that is due to the fact that the Bearkats can’t get any Division I opponents to come to Huntsville. Sam Houston will play games at Utah, at Nevada, at Oklahoma, at Oklahoma State and at Missouri State. The Bearkats also go to the Fort Myers Classic over Thanksgiving Week. The official schedule hasn’t come out yet. But, there will be limited opportunities for Bearkat fans to see their home squad in Johnson Coliseum in November and December.