LOGAN, Utah - Utah State men’s basketball will hold its first official practice of the 2017-18 season on Friday afternoon, leading up to its season opener on Nov. 3, when the Aggies will host the University of Providence, formerly Great Falls. USU will then travel to Weber State for the regular season opener in Ogden, on Friday, Nov. 10.
Utah State is entering its fifth year in the Mountain West in 2017-18 and returns seven letterwinners, including four starters from last season. In the mix is 2016-17 Mountain West Freshman of the Year Koby McEwen, who finished second on the team with 14.9 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. The total was the most since Jaycee Carroll averaged 14.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game as a freshman during the 2004-05 season.
Joining McEwen, in arguably the best one-two punch in the backcourt in the MW, is Sam Merrill, who wrapped up his freshman year third on the team in scoring with 9.4 points per game and led the Aggies with 98 assists, finishing seventh in the nation with an assist to turnover ratio of 3.27. Senior guard Julion Pearre and sophomore guard Diogo Brito also return in the USU backcourt, providing depth and experience.
“We are going to be skilled and we are going to be a good shooting team,” head coach Tim Duryea said. “We are going to be a little undersized, but we are going to be a competitive group. We are competitive, feisty and have a real competitive spirit to us as a group, from what I’ve seen so far.”
Utah State returns a pair of frontcourt players in senior Alex Dargenton and junior Quinn Taylor, as both appeared in every game for the Aggies last season. Dargenton led Utah State with 34 blocks last season and finished third on the team with 4.7 rebounds per contest. USU was dealt a blow earlier this week when junior Norbert Janicek underwent season-ending knee surgery, and will be unable to compete for the 2017-18 season.
Utah State will benefit in the return of three redshirts in freshmen forwards Klay Stall and Daron Henson, and freshman guard Abel Porter. That group will be joined by five newcomers in junior college transfers Dwayne Brown, Jr., and DeAngelo Isby, who will enter as juniors and have two years to play, and freshmen Brock Miller, Crew Ainge and Justin Bean, who are returning from LDS Church missions.
Utah State will already have a head start to the 2017-18 campaign, having had practices leading up to its foreign tour to Italy in August. The Aggies played four games during the tour and were able to develop team chemistry that will inevitably carry over into the season.
Practice on Friday will be closed, but fans will be able to get a sneak peek at the team when the Aggies host Primetime Madness on Thursday, Oct. 12, at 7 p.m.
Utah State men’s basketball news and information is available on Facebook (facebook.com/usumen’sbasketball) and on Twitter (@usubasketball). Fans can also get USU men’s basketball highlights on YouTube (youtube.com/utahstateathletics). Aggie fans can follow the Utah State athletic program on Twitter (@usuathletics), on Facebook (facebook.com/usuathletics) or on Instagram (@usuathletics).
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