The Utah State basketball team brings many fresh faces into the 2007-08 season. The team has a different look from the one that won 23 games and played Michigan in the NIT.
That is a good thing.
Led by returning players Jaycee Carroll, Kris Clark, and Steven DuCharme, the Aggies have high hopes for this season, which include a return to the NCAA Tournament, due to the expected immediate contributions of many new players, which include Div. 1-A and junior college transfers, returned missionaries, and possibly even a freshman straight out of high school.
Sophomore Brayden Bell will again play basketball in the state of Utah after spending one season at Ohio State and redshirting last season. He is expected to make contributions at center, if not in a starting role then off the bench.
Three junior college transfers come to Logan this year with expected pivotal roles. They include post player Gary Wilkinson, a third-team and honorable mention JC All-American from Salt Lake Community College; swingman Deundrae Spraggins, an all-Region 14 player from Paris, Texas; and point guard Desmond Stephens, from SE Illinois JC.
Wilkinson could likely start at center, while Spraggins will either start at small forward or share time with Nick Hammer at that spot in the lineup. Stephens will back-up Clark at point guard and see significant minutes.
Returned missionaries include Tai Wesley, an all-state player from Provo High, and Matt Forisamo, from Minnesota. Wesley could see minutes at the forward position relieving DuCharme.
One freshman who could see action this year is small forward Pooh Williams, also from Minnesota.
The Aggies should have at least 8 and up to 10 players who can make contributions this year, relieving the scoring load off All-America canidate Carroll. With Wilkinson and Bell, DuCharme will no longer be forced to play an undersized center role, balancing the rebounding responsibilities.
Last year, the Aggies were one piece short of being Dance-worthy. This year, Utah State should not only qualify for the Big Dance but perhaps even win the WAC, where they have placed 3rd and 4th in their first two seasons as part of the conference.