Find a list of your saved stories here

With bounty of transfers, UVU men's basketball looking to shock the world

With bounty of transfers, UVU men's basketball looking to shock the world

(Ravell Call, Deseret News)


Save Story

Save stories to read later


Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

OREM — There hasn't been a lot of tradition with regards to Utah Valley University basketball, and for the Wolverines, that is all right.

With a schedule that features games at Gonzaga, at BYU, at Utah, at Weber State and a home contest against Utah State, the Wolverines are looking to shock the world and make noise on the national scene.

"That's what we're chasing all the time," UVU head coach Mark Pope said. "We're trying to become something that nobody believes we can be. That's just the truth. That's a real benefit to us because nobody really believes that we can be what we think we can be this year and the next couple of years. I don't think there is anybody that believes we can be as good as we quietly think we can, and so that's what we're chasing. We're at Utah Valley University, which doesn't have a long history in Division I basketball, and so it's easy for people not to recognize us."

UVU is coming off a 12-18 season in its first season under Pope, and there are high expectations for a team that lost the majority of its scoring from a season ago. Leading scorer Konner Frey transferred to Montana State, and Marcel Davis and Jayden Jackson, who were second and third in scoring, both graduated.

However, Brandon Randolph, Jordan Poydras and Isaac Nielson, who didn't get to play last season due to transfer rules, are all eligible. Add Salt Lake Community College transfer Conner Toolson and University of Utah transfer Kenneth Ogbe to the mix and rather than rebuilding, Mark Pope and his staff have reloaded.

UVU coach Mark Pope talks to his players during a break in the action during the Wolverines' WAC tournament quarterfinal matchup against Missouri-Kansas City on Thursday, March 10, 2016 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. UMKC won, 80-78. (Photo: Brandon Judd, Deseret News)
UVU coach Mark Pope talks to his players during a break in the action during the Wolverines' WAC tournament quarterfinal matchup against Missouri-Kansas City on Thursday, March 10, 2016 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. UMKC won, 80-78. (Photo: Brandon Judd, Deseret News)

"This summer has been fun," Poydras said. "We've had a real competitive team and everybody came here with one goal and that's to win … the difference from this year compared to last year is the competitiveness, and I'm a competitive person, and being surrounded by guys that are competitive is a lot of fun."

Ivory Young, Andrew Bastien and Hayden Schenck are the lone Wolverines returning who played in 2015-16. Young averaged 9.0 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game, while Bastien averaged 2.3 points and 4.2 rebounds while battling an injury all season. Schenck also battled through injuries to average 6.5 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.

One player Pope is excited to get back is junior Zach Nelson. The 6-foot-7 forward took a medical redshirt in 2015-16 after finishing his sophomore campaign as the second leading scorer for the Wolverines. It is the leadership and experience that Pope is excited to have back, especially with a team that features many new faces.

"First and foremost, he brings some leadership to this team, which we desperately need," Pope said. "Zach's not a super, super vocal guy, but he has earned all of our players' respect. I think all of our guys look to Zach as a veteran leader. … He is an incredibly capable player. He's really smart. He's a great passer. His leadership role is going to be huge for us this year."

It is that leadership that will be necessary when the Wolverines begin a difficult non-conference schedule at Gonzaga on Nov. 11. Besides the in-state games, UVU will also travel to Pullman, Washington, for a game against Pac-12 foe Washington State on Nov. 30. The first Western Athletic Conference game will be at conference favorite Grand Canyon on Jan. 7. But Nelson has confidence that UVU is going to be ready to play.

"I think we can match up with anybody in the conference pretty well," Nelson said. I think it's going to be very competitive for us. … There's no guaranteed win in the WAC, everybody competes … we're looking forward to playing them and we're looking for a win. We don't expect to lose any of those games."


Kyle McDonald is sports fan who loves the Chicago Cubs and the Utah Valley University Wolverines. He is a communication major at UVU and will graduate in the spring of 2017. Follow him on Twitter at @kylesportsbias

Related stories

Most recent Sports stories

Related topics

Sports

ARE YOU GAME?

From first downs to buzzer beaters, get KSL.com’s top sports stories delivered to your inbox weekly.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to KSL.com's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast