The North Texas Mean Green basketball team didn’t have a good year or a good conference tournament, and there is no reason to re-hash that story over and over again. But the momentum has continued to go downward ever since the season ended. Players are leaving left and right from the Mean Green team that had so much promise before last season.
It started with losing in the conference tournament and immediately losing four senior players who contributed at UNT during their careers. Roger Franklin was the heart and soul of the Mean Green team and was the most consistent player all year. Niko Stojiljkovic finished his career with underwhelming numbers but he was a fan favorite that brought an inside outside presence that was a boost off the bench. Jacob Holmen was the only senior to leave that played four years at North Texas and brought versatility and production whether he started or came off the bench. Finally, Justin Patton leaves after just one season at UNT. He brought good defense and production off the bench and scored a career high 16 points, showing he could score with the best of them. If you only lost those guys then you would have been losing a lot of leadership and production from your team, but then there were more.
All-Conference sophomore forward Tony Mitchell declared for the NBA draft. It was something everyone knew was coming after the disappointing season that had him falling from potential lottery pick to having questions surrounding whether or not he would even be drafted in the first round. Mitchell was a pre-season All-American who was the most talented player to ever suit up for the Mean Green regardless of the production this season. Then freshman Clarke Overlander decided to take his talents somewhere else and transfer to another university although it is unknown where he will go. Overlander wasn’t much of a factor this season but he did show promise and there was hope that his shot could turn around and knock it down in-game like he did in practice. Then the news came down today that freshman point guard PJ Hardwick is transferring as well. He came into the season as a small, quick guard who wasn’t going to score a ton, but as the season went on he continued to develop. When Chris Jones went down with a foot injury, the true freshman stepped up and played very well running the show and playing close to 40 minutes every night.
I was very excited to see what it would be like next season with both PJ and Chris Jones together in the backcourt, but now I wonder who will be the backup point guard? Alzee Williams helped out at that spot this year but head coach Tony Benford is surely going to have to recruit either a high school guard or transfer to come in and help there. It opens up a bigger question as well, do the players have a problem with the way that Tony Benford runs things? And what do these moves mean for soon to be juniors Chris Jones and Jordan Williams status’ with the team? The fact is Benford has a lot of work to do to try to make next season more successful than this one.
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