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More UTEP Basketball

Initial Class of 2005 Recruiting List

By Mark Hatch

September 5th, 2004




Here is the initial UTEP Basketball recruiting list for the class of 2005.  Even though the Miners have yet to receive a visit from a high school or JC player in the class of 2005, Miner head coach Doc Sadler and his staff have already added three players to their roster that will begin play in the 2005-06 season.


The three players are all Div 1 transfers: 6-9 C Tremaine Fuqua from Oklahoma State, 6-2 PG Edgar Moreno from Texas, and 6-3 SG Shelton Johnson from Colorado State.  Fuqua and Moreno are both scholarship players, while Johnson will walk-on to the team.  Johnson will join the team in 2005 as a junior, Moreno as a senior, and Fuqua will have either one or two years of eligibility remaining, depending on the result of an appeal to the NCAA.  Every other player listed below is an athlete that the Miners are recruiting that has not yet (to my knowledge) made a commitment to a university.


Please recognize that the list is far from inclusive, as it only lists players whom we have been able to find connected to UTEP through the Internet.  Please also realize that the opinions expressed here are my own, and not those of the coaching staff.  My opinions on the players are formed from reading what the recruiting experts have to say about the players and from what others who have seen them play have to say.  Thanks to everyone who has contributed info on any of these players, as I have only been able to compile this list through information provided by posters to the Miner Digs message board.  Miner fans, please continue to search for potential UTEP recruits, and post any info you receive.


Recruiting Needs


There are three seniors on this year’s Miner team: starting point guard Fili Rivera, starting forward Omar Thomas, and reserve forward Thomas Gehrke.  This leaves the Miners with three scholarships to hand out.


The rest of the team consists of five juniors and three freshmen.  With Fuqua, Johnson, and Moreno all coming in as upperclassmen, the Mines will definitely need an infusion of youth.  I believe that the Miners should focus solely on bringing in high school seniors.  They will primarily need help in the frontcourt, but I wouldn’t be averse to signing a guard.




Tremaine Fuqua, 6-9 C, Oklahoma State


A lot was expected of Fuqua when he came to Oklahoma State from Skyline College.  Sporting News ranked him the 5th best JC center in the class of 2003, and another publication listed him as the 8th best overall JC prospect.  He also received votes for the preseason Big 12 Newcomer of the Year.  Unfortunately for Fuqua, he was plagued with injuries, and only ended up playing in two games before being suspend for his part in a fight outside of a bar.  Fuqua averaged 12.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game as a freshman at Skyline.  He apparently has very good athleticism and offensive skills.  According to one observer, however, he does need to be more aggressive in the paint.  He is appealing to the NCAA for a medical redshirt based on his injuries last season.  If granted he will have two years of eligibility at UTEP; if not, he will have only one.  Fuqua’s size and skill will really help UTEP, especially if he keeps his nose clean and learns to be more aggressive.


Edgar Moreno, 6-2 PG, Texas


Moreno was originally recruited to UTEP out of Lon Morris College by former Miner coach Jason Rabedeuax; he made an official visit in the fall of 2002.  Moreno ended up signing with Texas instead, where he was the backup point guard last season.  He played in all 33 games for the Longhorns, averaging 2.9 points in just over 12 minutes per game.  His field goal percentage (.554) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.89) led the team, and ranked second on the team with almost 2.5 assists per game.  He will only have one year of eligibility with the team, which is disappointing, but his purpose appears to be to give incoming freshman Vernon Carr another year to develop before assuming the reigns as starting point guard.  Moreno should prove to be a valuable pickup for the Miners.


Shelton Johnson, 6-3 SG, Colorado State


Johnson was a part time starter for the Rams last season. He averaged 4.8 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in almost 27 minutes a game last year, while shooting 43.5 percent from the field and 41 percent from the line. While he hardly looks to be a superstar, these are decent numbers, especially for a walk-on, and he should be able to contribute off of the bench for the Miners next season.






DeAndre Thomas, 6-6 PF, Westinghouse HS, Chicago


Thomas, who at times weighs close to 300 lbs, has good post up skills, can finish down low, and has been described as almost impossible to stop.  In fact, Frank Rusnak, a recruiting guru in the state of Illinois, lists Thomas as the sixth best senior in the state, and named Shaquille O’Neal as Thomas’ NBA play-a-like, saying that few can stop him one-on-one.  Illinois recruiting experts Roy and Harv Schmidt agree that Thomas can dominate inside, but point out that he desperately needs to lose weight, and that he needs increase his intensity and work ethic.  While I save seen Thomas listed as tall as 6-8, 6-6 appears to be his actual height. In addition to the Miners, Thomas is receiving interest from Purdue, Seton Hall, Illinois, Mississippi, Iowa, and Minnesota.

Christopher Lewis, 6-8 PF/SF, L.D. Bell HS, Bedford, TX



Lewis has been described as a player who can score both facing the basket and in the post, with the ability to hit the perimeter shot and drive to the basket. ranks him as the 23rd best player in Texas for the class of 2005.  Lewis is also hearing from Rice, Tulsa, Texas Tech, Colorado State, New Mexico, TCU, Wichita State and Oklahoma State.


Dionte Christmas, 6-6 SF, Lutheran Christian Academy, Philadelphia


Christmas put up some nice stats last season, leading all Philadelphia high school players w/ a 28 ppg average, to go with 7 rpg and 4 apg.  He was named third team All-Philadelphia last season.  Apparently a late bloomer on the basketball court, Christmas is a slasher with a solid jump shot.  Both the Philadelphia Daily News and list him as a mid-major prospect.  He is hearing from Villanova, Creighton, George Washington, La Salle, Temple, and East Carolina in addition to the Miners.


Bilal Benn, 6-5 SF/SG, Hargrave Military Institue, Chatham, VA


Benn, who was originally a member of the class of 2004, committed to Siena last summer, but did not qualify.  He appears to be wavering in his commitment to Siena, as he is now expressing interest in other schools, including UTEP, St. Joseph's, N.C. State, Villanova, and George Washington.  Benn is known as an excellent defensive player who is good in transition and has a solid jumper.  He averaged 15 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 blocks per game last season.


Keith Darden, 6-9 C, Coastal Christian Academy, Virginia Beach, VA


I’m not really sure whether or not we are recruiting Keith Darden.  Mike Decourcy, writing for Fox Sports, listed Darden at 6-9, claimed that he was a “key target” for the Miners, and said that he was a rising player this past summer.  Unfortunately he said that Darden was from Sante Fe, TX; the Keith Darden from Santa Fe, TX is a 6-1 Senior-to-be at Austin’s Concordia College.  It appears that he was talking about a Keith Darden who played last season at Fort Washington (MD) National Christian Academy, before transferring to Coastal Carolina for a year of prep school for the upcoming season.  HoopScoop Online once listed him as the 12th best Junior in the Maryland area, and has him as the 14th best player in VA, WV, MD, & DC areas. lists this Keith Darden as a fairly athletic player who plays well in spurts.  Unfortunately I have not found anything other than DeCourcy’s article tying Darden to UTEP.




Kerchel Carter, 6-0 PG, Cardozo HS, Bayside, NY


Carter is originally from Ontario, where is was ranked as one of the top players in the province.  He is quick, a great ball handler, and can shoot from long range.  He averaged 20 points, 12 assists, and 5 rebounds per game last season. lists him as a 2-star athlete.  His current list includes UTEP, Nebraska, Iowa State, UTEP, New Mexico State, and Central Michigan.


York Sims, 6-1 PG/SG, Clarksville (AR) HS


Sims is a southpaw who likes to take it to the hole, but also posses a good-looking jump shot.  He has experience playing both guard spots.  His favorites right now are Arkansas and Oklahoma State, but he is still open, and is also considering UTEP, UCONN, Southern Illinois, Wichita State, and Stanford. lists him as a 2-star athlete.




It is my understanding that the basketball staff has about 30 players that they are seriously looking at, meaning that the above list is far from complete.  From the above list, I am most impressed with DeAndre Thomas in the frontcourt and Carter and Sims in the backcourt.  Thomas, while a little short for a power forward, does have the kind of game you want for a player at that position, and appears to have enough talent to earn some minutes as a freshman.  Carter appears to have the quickness and play making abilities necessary to become a quality point guard at the Div 1 level, while Sims’ versatility would make him a good pickup.  I do have to wonder why Christmas, with his great numbers, isn’t more highly regarded.  He, Benn, or Lewis might make fit in well with the team, but I want to find more information on them before making that judgment.


The Miners should start bringing in some players for visits soon, at which time we will have a better idea of whom they are seriously recruiting.  Best of luck to coach Sadler and his staff both on the court and the recruiting trail this season.


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