Last weekend, I had an opportunity to visit my first UTEP men's basketball practice of the 2022-23 season. Besides the obvious roster overhaul, Miner fans who watched last year's team win 20 games will notice some similarities and other differences with this group.

Much like last season, head coach Joe Golding has a lineup that can be guard-heavy, especially when it comes to scoring. The Miners have four guards who should see plenty of time on the floor this season: Shamar Givance, Tae Hardy, Malik Zachery, and Mario McKinney Jr. Givance and Hardy are proven commodities who will most likely form a terrific 1-2 punch in the UTEP backcourt. Zachery also has D1 experience from his time at Buffalo and can score as well as handle the basketball. McKinney is the wild card since he was not used much at NMSU last season. The Missouri native has unbelievable athletic ability, but he has yet to put everything on display at the Division 1 level. All four of those players have the ability to play big minutes and produce. Returnee Jamari Sibley is expected to play the 3 this season, and see time at both the guard and forward positions.

Daniel Lopez.
Daniel Lopez.

Unlike the 2021-22 season, this group will have depth at the forward spots. Newcomers like Jon Dos Anjos, Calvin Solomon, and Otis Frazier III all have the ability to play and produce for Coach Golding. Ze'Rik Onyema and Kevin Kalu are also back, forming a deep front court for the Miners. All of them are athletic and can score on the block. Derick Hamilton has lost 50 pounds and is someone who profiles as a 5. However, he looks more raw than the other bigs and he might need more development before he sees extended minutes in the UTEP rotation.

The thing I love about this team is their work ethic. It seems like Coach Golding recruited a group of players that fit his mold and intensity. The two-hour practice I watched was filled with hustle and defensive pressure. I believe that will be the identity for the 2022-23 Miners. Few team will work harder than the Miners. Only time will tell if their depth will give them an opportunity to finish in the top half of Conference USA.

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