"It's going to be really, really fun," Randolph said. "It's going to be a lot of lobs this year. A lot of fast pace, more lobs, blocked shots. It's really going to take the toll off of a lot of the guards. We had a hard time guarding ball screens, so everything is going to be protected down there. Our defense is going to be a lot better."

Randolph is the senior leader over a position group that has as much depth, if not more, than the big men for UVU. Fellow senior Kenneth Ogbe, along with juniors Conner Toolson and Hayden Schenck, all return. Former BYU guards Cory Calvert and Jake Toolson, along with Kent State transfer Jerrelle DeBerry and junior college transfer Ben Nakwaasah, are all in line for minutes on the UVU guard line.

"I certainly think we have our returning guys," Pope said. "We have Brandon and Hayden and Conner and KO (Ogbe). I think that's going to be the foundation. But this Jake Toolson is special. Cory Calvert shows us flashes. Ben Nakwaasah was the sixth leading scorer in junior college last year. He's a veteran player."

Senior forward Zach Nelson rounds out the list of returnees who saw a lot of minutes in 2016-17. Although Pope says Nelson "is the oldest player in college basketball," the 6-foot-8 senior, who graduated in August with a master's degree along with teammate Kenneth Ogbe, will be expected to provide that veteran leadership.

UVU opens the season with an exhibition game against Dixie State in the UCCU Center in Orem before heading east for the toughest 24 hours in college basketball history. UVU plays at Kentucky on Nov. 10 and one night later plays at Duke in what could be the 1,000th win at Duke for Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Either way, Pope believes his guys can and will compete at the highest levels and is excited for the opportunity to watch his guys take the court again.

"One of the fun things about this schedule is that there is no doubt," Pope said. "Our guys wake up every morning a little more anxious and they go to bed at night a little more anxious. We're playing a ridiculously hard non-conference schedule."


Kyle McDonald is sports fan who loves the Chicago Cubs. Follow him on Twitter at @kylesportsbias

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