Led by nationally-ranked Florida State, the eight schools scheduled to participate in the 2017 Tire Pros Puerto Rico Tip-Off have combined for a 136-81 record to date during the 2016-2017 season with five schools at next November’s San Juan event posting winning records entering the final weeks of the regular-season.
The Seminole of the Atlantic Coast Conference are ranked 19th in the ASSOCIATED PRESS poll and 20th on the coaches list as Florida State has compiled a 22-6 record this season. The Seminole (2013) will be one of two schools with previous experience in the Tire Pros Puerto Rico Tip-Off along with Western Michigan (2011, Mid-American Conference, 12-15 overall record).
The 2017 Tire Pros Puerto Rico Tip-Off is scheduled for November 16, 17 and 19 in San Juan at the Coliseo Roberto Clemente. Other schools competing in the three-day, 12-game bracketed in-season tournament will be Boise State (Mountain West Conference, 17-9), Illinois State (Missouri Valley Conference, 24-5), Iowa State (Big 12 Conference, 18-9), South Carolina (Southeastern Conference, 20-8), Tulsa (American Athletic, 12-14) and UTEP (Conference USA, 11-15).
Five of the eight coaches scheduled to lead their schools in the 2017 Tire Pros Puerto Rico Tip-Off have previously mentored teams in the San Juan event. Tulsa coach Frank Haith led Miami to the 2007 title. Other coaches with experience in the tournament are Leonard Hamilton of Florida State, Frank Martin of South Carolina, Tim Floyd of UTEP and Steve Hawkins of Western Michigan.
Hamilton and Hawkins coached their schools in Puerto Rico in 2013 (third-place) and 2011 (eighth-place), respectively. Martin led Kansas State to a third-place finish in 2009 while Floyd’s Southern California team finished sixth in 2008.
Boise State – Junior Chandler Hutchison (18.0 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game) and sophomore Paris Austin (12.4, 3.1, 2.9) led the Broncos. Hutchison, who is shooting 50 percent from the field this season, arrived at Boise State as the highest-ranked recruit in school history and became just the second Bronco freshman to start an NCAA Tournament game.
Florida State – With only two seniors on its 2016-2017 roster and depending on early departures, the Seminoles will be one of the more experienced teams in the country next season. Sophomore guard Dwayne Bacon (16.8 points a game) has emerged as a team leader after posting the best freshman season in school history in 2016 by averaging 15.8 points a game. Freshman forward Jonathan Isaac is averaging 12.7 points and 7.5 rebounds a game while shooting over 52 percent from the field. Junior guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes, is averaging 10.2 points and a team-high 4.9 assists per contest.
Illinois State – Illinois State junior forward MiKyle McIntosh, who was named to the preseason All-Missouri Valley team, is the Redbirds second-leading scorer (12.7 points a game) and third in rebounding (6.0). Sophomore forward Phil Fayne is averaging 9.7 points and 6.4 rebounds a game while shooting over 59 percent from the field.
Iowa State – The Cyclones, who have advanced to the last five NCAA Tournaments, will be forced to reload with six seniors in the rotation this season. Junior guard Donovan Jackson is playing over 17 minutes a game for Iowa State and is the top scorer among the underclassmen with 6.3 points per game.
South Carolina – Guard PJ Dozier and forward Chris Silva, a pair of sophomore starters for the Gamecocks, are averaging 13.6 and 10.1 points per game, respectively, this season. Dozier is grabbing 4.5 rebounds and handing out 2.9 assists per game while Silva has a 5.6 rebounding average while shooting over 56 percent from the field.
Tulsa – Junior Etou leads a group of 10 newcomers to the court for Tulsa this season. Etou, a 6-7 junior from the Republic of Congo, sat out 2015-2016 as a Division I transfer. He currently leads the Golden Hurricane with a 12.6 scoring average while grabbing seven rebounds a game. Guards Jaleel Wheeler, Sterling Taplin and Corey Henderson, Jr., have combined to score 26.5 points a game.
UTEP – Juniors guard Omega Harris and center Matt Willms pace the Miners by scoring 16.7 and 11.5 points per game, respectively. Sophomore forward Paul Thomas is the team’s top rebounder at 6.3 per game with Willms second at 5.5 caroms per contest. Willms is also shooting over 60 percent from the floor.
Western Michigan – Junior point guard Thomas Wilder is Western Michigan’s top scorer with a 19.3-point average per game while he is dishing out 3.6 assists a contest and making over 43 percent of his three point attempts. Freshman guard Reggie Jones is averaging 9.4 points a game.