Skip to Navigation Skip to Main Content

What does McCasland have to work with at UNT?: A look at the roster

Profile image for Brett Vito
Brett Vito, Staff Writer

North Texas took the first step toward rebuilding its basketball program just a few days ago, when the school announced it had hired Grant McCasland as its new coach.

But what will the former Arkansas State coach have to work with in his first season after taking over a team that finished 8-22 this season?

It's an important question, one that can't be completely answered due to the status of two players who were on the roster last season. Jeremy Combs said late in the year that he wouldn't decide what his plans are for his senior year until after the season.

Combs was recruited by former UNT coach Tony Benford and is close to him, which only adds to the doubts about is plans.

Keith Frazier was a senior last season, but Benford said the school could examine a few avenues in the hope that he would be granted an extra season of eligibility based on his injury history.

McCasland could also elect to pursue bringing Frazier back.

With that being said, here's a look at UNT's roster ...

Players UNT hopes will return

North Texas forward Jeremy Combs is one of the Mean Green's best players and would be a huge asset if he returns for his senior year.DRC file photo
North Texas forward Jeremy Combs is one of the Mean Green's best players and would be a huge asset if he returns for his senior year.
DRC file photo

Jeremy Combs, senior forward -- Combs is UNT's best player when he is healthy. He just hasn't been healthy in a long time. The 6-7 senior sprained his ankle late in the 2015-16 season, later had surgery and ended up playing in just 14 games this year. He averaged 10.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. Combs could end up being a UNT Hall of Famer if he elects to hang around and plays well as a senior.

Keith Frazier, senior guard -- The changes of seeing Frazier return for another year at UNT seem slim, but it is a possibility to consider. He averaged 8.0 points and 3.5 rebounds in four games this season.

Potential impact players

North Texas guard  A.J. Lawson was one of the top young players in Conference USA as a freshmanDRC/Jeff Woo
North Texas guard A.J. Lawson was one of the top young players in Conference USA as a freshman
DRC/Jeff Woo

A.J. Lawson, sophomore guard -- Lawson led UNT with an average of 11.4 points per game and added 4.4 rebounds an outing. He was an All-Freshman Team selection in C-USA.

Ryan Woolridge, sophomore guard -- Woolridge averaged 9.6 points and 3.1 assists per game after becoming eligible at the semester break.

Players in the rotation

North Texas forward Shane Temara (50) came on late in the season after Jeremy Combs was lost for the year due to injuryDRC file photo
North Texas forward Shane Temara (50) came on late in the season after Jeremy Combs was lost for the year due to injury
DRC file photo

Shane Temara, senior forward -- Temara averaged 7.0 points and 4.6 rebounds this season. He came on late in the year when Combs went down for the season.

Rickey Brice Jr., junior center -- Brice averaged 5.1 points and 4.2 rebounds per game this season. The 7-footer has yet to make the impact UNT had hoped he would.

Ja'Michael Brown, junior guard -- Brown averaged 5.8 points and 1.9 rebounds per game this season. He really isn't a point guard and is small for a shooting guard.

Allante Holston, junior guard -- Holston is a good perimeter defender and chipped in 3.3 points and 2.5 rebounds per game this season.

Deep on the bench

Greg White-Pittman, senior guard -- White-Pittman played in just three games due to injury this season.

Khalil Fuller, redshirt sophomore -- The big man missed the year with back issues.

Recruits

Cedar Hill center Zach Simmons (24) is one of the top recruits in Texas this season and could make a big impact for North Texas next fall.<p>The Dallas Morning News/Smiley N. Pool</p><p></p>
Cedar Hill center Zach Simmons (24) is one of the top recruits in Texas this season and could make a big impact for North Texas next fall.

The Dallas Morning News/Smiley N. Pool

Zach Simmons, freshman -- The 6-9 forward from Cedar Hill signed with UNT in the early period and is ranked No. 91 in TexasHoops.com's list of the top players in the state. Simmons averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds per game as a senior after missing a large portion of his junior season with a broken leg.

Amaad Wainwright, junior -- The 6-4 guard averaged 14.2 points and 4.5 rebounds per game at Trinity Valley this season.

Bottom line

McCasland inherits a few good young players to work with. Lawson and Woolridge could wind up forming a solid backcourt.

Temara developed into a productive player in UNT's rotation and Brice has potential.

Simmons looks like he could be a steal for UNT, while Wainright could be a solid addition to UNT's rotation.

The Mean Green have the potential to be better. The hope is McCasland will be a better in-game coach than Benford and have some semblance of a system and strategy on the offensive end.

It's hard to imagine UNT not being light years ahead in that regard.

UNT should also have decent talent to work with when compared to its rivals in C-USA. Combs is the key. If he returns, UNT's roster looks at least decent.

Without Combs, it looks a little dicey.

College basketball is about star players. Middle Tennessee has three -- Giddy Potts, JaCorey Williams and Reggie Upshaw -- and is in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Louisiana Tech and Rice both had first-team all-conference players and enjoyed solid seasons.

UNT lost its players who fit that mold to injury last season in Combs and Deckie Johnson and cratered.

The Mean Green could have a solid roster next season. Combs is the key. He can be the star UNT needs.

The Mean Green have some talent, but let's just not go overboard. Nine C-USA teams have an all-conference player returning. Rice has two. UNT didn't have a single one.

A team featuring Lawson and Woolridge could be dramatically better than last season. It just seems like a stretch to think that pair could put UNT in the top half of the league.