With the dawn of a new season quickly approaching, the Southern Utah University men’s basketball team will look to several new faces as it starts this season. When head coach Todd Simon left after a seven-year tenure with the Thunderbirds, SUU opened up a nationwide search for the next coach.
This culminated in the hiring of Western Illinois University head coach Rob Jeter. Jeter comes to SUU with a 223-215 record as a head coach, as well as a Horizon League Coach of the Year award. The team also lost several key contributors from last season, and are looking to rebuild with several new additions through both recruiting and the transfer portal.
The Thunderbirds lost all of their starters from the 22-23 season to either graduation or the transfer portal. These transfers include:
— Drake Allen, guard, transfer to Utah Valley University
— Jason Spurgin, center, transfer to Bowling Green University
— Dee Barnes, guard, transfer to High Point University
Guards Cameron Healy, Maizen Fausett and Tevian Jones, along with forward Harrison Butler, were lost to graduation.
The Thunderbirds are fully embracing the youth movement this season with a roster featuring 10 underclassmen. The leader of this young group is looking to be sophomore center Parsa Fallah, who is coming off a season where he averaged 3.6 points and 2.1 rebounds in 7.9 minutes off the bench. Fallah also had a team-high shooting percentage of 67.9%.
The Thunderbirds brought in some veteran leadership in junior forward Jamir Simpson, who averaged 14.6 points and 6 rebounds last season. They also brought in junior Jamari Sibley, a dirty-work forward who pulled down 131 rebounds, including 31 offensive, and had a team-high 34 blocks.
Jeter’s focus is on establishing secondary breaks on offense, as well as getting to the free throw line more consistently with a fast, disciplined offense. He is also looking to establish a more defensive presence for the Thunderbirds, a team that ranked 55th in the nation for most points allowed with 74.7.
The first look the public will get at this year’s Thunderbird squad will be at the Basketball Bash on Wednesday, Oct. 18, at 6:30 p.m. in the America First Event Center. They officially start play on the road on Monday, Nov. 6, against the California State University, Bakersfield Roadrunners at 8 p.m. MST. That game can be streamed on ESPN+
Author: Aidan Mortensen
Photographer: Anden Garfield
Editor: Anden Garfield