The Rainbow Warriors face a rebuilding year after a memorable and record-setting 2015-16 season. UH returns just one starter – senior forward Mike Thomas – from last year’s squad that won a school-record 28 wins, captured the Big West title and picked up the program’s first-ever win in the NCAA Tournament. Second-year head coach Eran Ganot will rely heavily on 10 newcomers, among them Division I transfers Jack Purchase (Auburn) and Noah Allen (UCLA). This is the eighth year UH will host the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic. The Rainbow Warriors are 12-9 (.571) all-time in tournament and have finished 3rd in each of the last two seasons.
Led by fifth-year head coach Dan Muller, the 2016-17 Illinois State men's basketball team returns four of five starters and seven letterwinners, including four of last season’s top-five scorers, plus eight newcomers. The 2016-17 Redbirds aim to build upon last year’s 18-14 overall record and 12-6 Missouri Valley Conference mark, good for second place in the MVC and signifying ISU's highest league finish and most conference wins since 2007-08. Entering their fourth year with the program, guards Paris Lee and Tony Wills will be relied on for senior leadership in 2016-17. Lee, who averaged 11.1 ppg to rank second on the team last season, is Illinois State’s top returner in scoring, assists (3.7 apg) and steals (1.7 spg). The Redbirds also return their top rebounder from last season in junior forward Deontae Hawkins (5.8 rpg). Fellow junior forward MiKyle McIntosh (10.9 ppg) joins Lee, Wills and Hawkins as a returning starter. Illinois State enters the 2016-17 campaign having upset a Top-25 team in each of the last five seasons.
San Diego State, the three-time defending Mountain West Conference regular season champions, return three starters and eight letterwinners off of a squad that posted a 28-10 record and advanced to the NIT national semifinals. The Aztecs, who have advanced to the NCAA or the postseason NIT each of the last 11 seasons (eighth longest active streak nationally) won 21 of their final 25 games in 2015-16. Two-time national coach of the year Steve Fisher returns a veteran group, led by returning starters junior guard Trey Kell (12.6 ppg, 3.7 rpg), sophomore guard Jeremy Hemsley (12.0 ppg, 1.8 apg) and sophomore forward Zylan Cheatham (7.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg). San Diego State returns nearly three-quarters (72.6 percent) of its scoring from last season and the eight key returnees are a major reason the Aztecs led the nation in field goal percentage defense a year ago (37.3 percent).
Under the direction of new head coach Kyle Smith, USF returns just six letterwinners off of last year’s team which finished 15-15 overall and 8-10 (5th) in the West Coast Conference. Among the lost letterwinners are five starters, including leading scorers Devin Watson (20.3) and Tim Derksen (16.9) along with last year’s top rebounder Dont’e Reynolds (6.9). Senior guard Ronnie Boyce ranks as the team’s leading returning scorer after he averaged 11.1 points a game a year ago. USF’s five other returnees combined to make 23 starts and score a total of 365 points on the year. USF’s roster also features 10 newcomers, including eight freshmen. Among the new players is a familiar face in point guard Frankie Ferrari. Jordan Ratinho, who earned Northern California Player of the Year honors last year at De La Salle High School, is one of eight freshmen on the roster.
Veteran head coach Doc Sadler looks to lead Southern Miss to a successful campaign in his third year at the helm. The team's strength lies in the backcourt, where Khari Price will look to lead the way as the team's top returning three-point threat (9.6 ppg). The Golden Eagles are making their first trip to Hawaii since 1998.
As one of just seven teams in NCAA Division I men’s basketball to amass 25 or more wins in each of the last four seasons, the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks rolled to a 28-6 mark in 2015-16 and were once again the unquestioned lords of the Southland Conference by locking up their fourth-straight regular season crown with a perfect 18-0 mark in league play. As an entrant in the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive year – and the fourth time in program history – the ‘Jacks sprung one of the biggest upsets in tournament history when, as a 14 seed, they busted up third-seeded and No. 8-ranked West Virginia 70-56 in the opening round. SFA hired former Texas A&M assistant Kyle Keller as the program’s new leading man. In 2016-17, Keller will rely on an experienced core of returners including senior Dallas Cameron (3.5 points, 1.0 rebounds in 2015-16), junior Ty Charles (9.4 points, 4.8 rebounds per game in 2015-16) and sophomore TJ Holyfield (7.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.5 blocked shots per game in 2015-16) to help the ‘Jacks remain atop the Southland Conference.
Tulsa is in its third year under head coach Frank Haith, and last season reached the NCAA Tournament for the 16th time in program history. In two seasons at Tulsa, Haith has compiled a 43-23 record, and has a 248-152 record in 12 years as a head coach. Of his 12 teams, 10 have reached the postseason, including four NCAA Tournament appearances. In 2015-16, the Golden Hurricane finished third in the American Athletic Conference and claimed wins over No. 9 Wichita State and at No. 16 SMU, as well as at Oklahoma State, and at home against UConn, Temple and Cincinnati. Senior guard Pat Birt is the leading returning scorer for the Hurricane. He averaged 12.0 points and 3.3 rebounds, and led the team with 78 3-pointers last season. Sophomore guard Sterling Taplin averaged 2.6 points in 9.8 minutes per game in 29 games last season. Junior forwards TK Edogi, who averaged 1.3 points and 1.3 rebounds in his first two seasons, and Junior Etou, who transferred from Rutgers, redshirted in 2015-16.
The Utah men’s basketball program is coming off a 2015-16 campaign in which the Runnin’ Utes went 27-9 overall, notched a second-place finish in the Pac-12 with a record of 13-5 and earned its second-consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Utes return two of five starters from last season, including senior guard Lorenzo Bonam (10.2 ppg, 3.0 a/g, 35 steals in 2015-16) and junior forward Kyle Kuzma (10.8 ppg, 5.7 r/g, .522 fg pct.). In addition to the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic competition, the Utes will face a pair of Big East squads this season, hosting Butler (Nov. 28) and traveling to Xavier (Dec. 10). Utah will open the 2016-17 campaign hosting Northwest Nazarene (Nov. 12). Head coach Larry Krystkowiak is in his sixth season with the Utes. He is 95-73 overall at Utah and has a combined 137-93 record in seven years at the collegiate level.
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