College Basketball Nation: John Bohannon

Conference USA's most important players

July, 25, 2012
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Editor's note: ESPN.com’s Summer Shootaround series catches up on the offseason storylines for each conference. For more on C-USA, click here.

The most important player for each team in the conference ...

East Carolina: Miguel Paul
Paul ran the show in effective fashion for ECU last season, posting a 108.8 offensive rating while leading his team in usage and submitting the ninth-best assist rate in the nation (40.6). He'll be just as crucial in his final season.

Houston: Danuel House
House is the most talented recruit the Houston men's basketball program has landed in a long time. He could have chosen just about any destination for college ball, but he chose to stay in Houston and play for third-year coach James Dickey. House could be a star on a previously irrelevant team from day one.

Marshall: Dennis Tinnon
Marshall didn't miss the NCAA tournament by much last season, but miss the tourney it did. If that changes, it will be in part because Tinnon -- who posted a 120.2 offensive rating and ranked in the top 50 nationally in defensive and offensive rebounding rate -- takes on an even larger share of the offense.

Memphis: Joe Jackson
The lightning-quick Memphis native carries the weight of a city on his back every time he plays. Through his first two seasons, Jackson has often displayed why those childhood expectations started in the first place -- even if it feels like we haven't seen him put it all together just yet.

[+] EnlargeArsalan Kazemi
AP Photo/Erich SchlegelArsalan Kazemi, who plays for Iran's national team, averaged 12.1 points and 10.3 rebounds as a junior last season.
Rice: Arsalan Kazemi
One of the nation's unknown stars is Rice's best player and its most important, a rebounding force who needs to command double-teams to help the Owls improve last season's putrid offense.

SMU: Jalen Jones
Speaking of putrid offense, SMU was awful on that side of the floor in 2011-12. But freshman guard Jones showed plenty of potential along the way.

Southern Miss: Neil Watson
The 5-foot-11 guard was former coach Larry Eustachy's second-most-used offensive option last season, when he shot 37.5 percent from the 3-point line and posted a 30.7 percent assist rate. Both of those figures should improve in 2012.

Tulane: Ricky Tarrant
It has been a tough decade or so for Tulane hoops, but Tarrant, who averaged 14.9 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists (and efficiently so) as a freshman last season, will give the Green Wave at least one go-to option going forward.

Tulsa: Scottie Haralson
Losing leading scorer Jordan Clarkson to an unflattering (for Tulsa) transfer scenario was a major blow, which is chief among the reasons why Haralson must step up as a senior.

UAB: Preston Purifoy
The Blazers are in rebuilding mode after firing coach Mike Davis, so all personnel bets are off. That means Purifoy, by far the team's most efficient player last season, could get more opportunities to show his skills.

UCF: Marcus Jordan
Keith Clanton is the more obvious pick, but he and Isaiah Sykes form a nice rebounding tandem on the low block. Jordan will have the ball in his hands more often and will have to be far more consistent to live up to the flashes of excellence we've seen in his time at UCF.

UTEP: Julian Washburn
Junior John Bohannon is a known quantity, a solid post man and an active rebounder who converts his opportunities well. Washburn, a 6-7 sophomore, has tons of upside, but he will have to become much more efficient in his second season.

Youth, injury give UTEP a new look

November, 2, 2011
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UTEP held an intrasquad scrimmage last week in front of fans who probably didn't recognize a majority of the team. That's because of all the players participating, only one on scholarship -- guard Michael Perez, he of the 1.5-points-per-game average -- appeared in a contest for the Miners last season.

Gabriel McCulley, the team's lone senior, is recovering from surgery to repair a stress fracture in his leg. Sophomore John Bohannon was out with a tweaked hamstring. Kevin Perry is a tight end on the football team. Tyler Tafoya is a junior walk-on.

And that's all of the returning players for UTEP, which otherwise has eight freshmen on the roster, along with a junior-college transfer and Cal State Fullerton transfer Jacques Streeter.

"We're going to play different lineups, different rosters," coach Tim Floyd said in a statement. "We're going to try to sub a great deal based on mistakes. We didn't have to do that a lot last year with a veteran group, but these kids need to come out of the game, understand what they did wrong, go back into the game and try to do it better. I don't know if there's going to be a real flow to these games, but we're going to have a chance to look at a lot of players."

Consider all this to be a challenge for Floyd, who won't have much experience at all on his team coming off a 25-win season and NIT appearance with a senior-laden roster. Floyd isn't accustomed to losing — he hasn't led a team to an under-.500 record since he coached the Chicago Bulls. He'll be looking forward to brighter days ahead with this youthful group, he told The Prospector:
"We are trying to think long-term with what we are doing, so this year may be somewhat of a challenge because we are going to be the youngest team in the United States," Floyd said. "We like the core of what we are doing here, with the idea that in the next three, four, five years, we will continue to build and add on top of these young guys."

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