Men's Basketball Sets to Open Season with Exhibition Against UIW

Men's Basketball Sets to Open Season with Exhibition Against UIW

MONDAY, NOV. 5, 7 P.M.


RADIO: NewsRadio 1360 KKTX (Yannis Koutroupis)


The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi men's basketball team will open its 2012-13 season with an exhibition against future conference foe Incarnate Word at the American Bank Center. This marks the third straight season that the Islanders and Cardinals have faced off in a preseason exhibition.

• The Islanders have one of the youngest teams in Division I, with an average age of 20 years, three months and 11 days as of tonight.

• Texas A&M - Corpus Christi has no seniors on its roster, with five juniors, five sophomores and five freshmen.

• Sophomore Johnathan Jordan is the leader of the team after topping the Southland in assists per game as a freshman.

• Sophomore Nate Maxey also returns after posting the fourth-highest block total in school history last year.

• The Islanders do not have a group of five players who will see action this year that have previously played together in a competitive contest.

• Junior college transfers Will Nelson and Joy Williamson are expected to play a major part for the Islanders this season.

• Texas A&M - Corpus Christi is ineligible for the postseason because of poor results in the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate. No Islander who played under Wilson had anything to to with the subpar score.

He's only a sophomore, but Houston native Johnathan Jordan has been thrust into the role of leader on the young Islanders squad. Jordan led the Southland in assists per game in 2011-12 and despite his newbie status, was also among the leaders in minutes per game. With 26 starts, he has nearly as many Division I starts as the rest of his teammates combined (34).

Jordan is also one of the most athletic Islanders, having twice won the slam-dunk contest at Islanders Invasion, thanks much to his 48-inch running vertical leap. His 138 assists last season were a new school record.

Fellow sophomore Nate Maxey also jumps off the page when looking at statistics and measurables. The San Diego native posted the fourth-highest block total in school history in his freshman season, and heading into this season was measured as having a 7-foot-10 wing span.

Maxey, who averaged 3.5 points and 3.0 rebounds a year ago, has added about 15 pounds to his 6-foot-11 frame and has also matured greatly off the court heading into his sophomore season.

With 67.9 of the team's scoring gone from a season ago, a large amount of the scoring pressure will fall on the new Islanders. Chief among those are Will Nelson and Joy Williamson, who are expected to play a major part in the Islanders' offense.

Nelson did not play last season to focus on academics, but was a standout performer at Hutchinson and Baton Rouge Community Colleges the two years prior. Williamson was an all-conference performer at Redlands CC a year ago, averaging 18.7 points and 8.2 rebounds.

The two are joined by six other newcomers – junior college transfer Zane Knowles and freshmen Jelani Currie, Dale Francis, Jerred Kite, Cole Martinez and Brandon Pye.

The Islanders have one of the youngest teams in Division I, with an average age of just over 20 years, 3 months, and are one of just a handful of teams that have no seniors on their roster. In a fact that will make most reading this feel old, only one player – Will Nelson – was born in the 1980s.

Texas A&M - Corpus Christi is also one of just eight teams that has an average of less than one year of experience per player. The Islanders have 14 years of college playing experience among their 15 players, though only eight of those years are at the Division I level. Navy, with its 13 years of experience among 17 players, is the least experienced team in the nation on average, while Rice's eight total years of experience is the lowest overall total.

Overall, the Islanders have played a total of 2,933 minutes at the Division I level, which comes out to an average of just under 196 minutes per player. Taking Johnathan Jordan out of the mix – as he finished in the conference's top 10 in minutes per game – and the remaining 14 players have averaged just 142 minutes – just over 3 1/2 games – in their careers.
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi men's basketball will be ineligible for the postseason in the 2012-13 season, due to low Academic Progress Rate scores that occurred in the 2010-11 school year. Only one current player – Ted Wang – was on the team that season, and he is one of the top students on the Islanders, earning Second Team Southland All-Academic honors last year.

As the youngest member of last year's freshman class, Hameed Ali showed flashes of being a strong player for the Islanders, hitting game winning shots against Utah State and Sam Houston State in addition to having the ball in his hands with the chance at a win against South Alabama.

But Ali, who turned 19 in August, has shown significant growth in his maturity, particularly as a vocal leader for the Islanders. Formerly one of the most shy members of the team, Ali has become a constant voice in practice – whether he is on the court or on the sidelines. The native of Hayward, Calif., averaged 4.3 points per game in his 30 contests a year ago. He made 13 starts and shot 32 percent from the field.

Though the last two years have been slightly less successful at home, the Islanders still enjoy a high level of success when playing at the American Bank Center. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi is 68-32 (.680) in 100 games at the facility since it opened in 2004. With a capacity of approximately 8,100, the Islanders have one of the finest home courts in the Southland Conference.

This is the third consecutive year that the Islanders and Cardinals will face off in an exhibition contest. Last year, UIW came away with a 69-65 win in the first contest with Willis Wilson at the helm of the Islanders. Tha Cardinals will become an even more frequent foe in the near future, though, as they will become members of the Southland Conference beginning next season. UIW, Abilene Christian, Houston Baptist and New Orleans will join the league, giving it 14 members starting next year. UIW and ACU will be going through the reclassification process from Division II to Division I over the next four years.

Entering his second year at the helm of the Islanders men's basketball program, head coach Willis Wilson is entering what he terms the first rebuilding year of Islanders Basketball. With the limited time after his hiring, Wilson and his staff had only seen a couple of the players who they signed a year ago, making last season a transition year. But with the first full class of his tenure, the future looks strong for the Islanders.

Wilson, who spent 16 years at the helm of the Rice program and is the school's all-time winningest coach, enters this season with 225 wins in his career. One of the most respected coaches in the college game, Wilson also spent time at Memphis and Stanford in addition to his time as a player, assistant coach and finally head coach at his alma mater, Rice.