#92 Houston Cougars: College Basketball 111 in 111


houston cougars mascot

Welcome to The Sports Bank’s third annual college basketball season preview series.  Two years we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  Last year, we were slightly more aggressive and expanded to 111 teams in 111 days and will do so again as we look ahead to the 2012-2013 season.

We will rank the 75 power conference teams and top 36 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

With the exception of their unexpected run in the 2010 Conference USA Tournament which earned them the league’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament, the Houston Cougars have been absent on the national scene for the past twenty years.  James Dickey is hoping to turn that around and brings in a pair of major recruits this season.

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HOUSTON COUGARS
Last Season: T-8th, 7-9 in C-USA, 15-15 overall
Predicted C-USA Finish: 3rd

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: TaShawn Thomas (So)/Leon Gibson (Sr)/Valentine Izundu (Fr)
F: Danrad Knowles (Fr)/J.J. Richardson (Jr)/Mikhail McLean (So)
G/F: Danuel House (Fr)/LeRon Barnes (Fr)
SG: Joseph Young (So)/Jherrod Stiggers (Fr)
PG: J.J. Thompson (So)/Brandon Morris (Jr)/Tione Womack (Jr)/Jimmie Jones (Jr)

Gone: SF-Jonathan Simmons, G-Darian Thibodeaux, PF-Alandise Harris (transfer-Arkansas), PF-Kirk Van Slyke (transfer-Arkansas State)

2011-2012 Outlook:
Dickey pulled off a huge recruiting coup by getting Houston natives and AAU teammates Danuel House and Danrad “Chicken” Knowles to stay home and play for the Cougars.  House was a top-20 national recruit and relies on his aggressiveness and attacking ability to excel at the rim.  Knowles is a long, versatile combo forward who can handle the ball or shoot it from the outside.  Both freshmen will immediate impact players especially with the surprising decision of last year’s leading scorer, Jonathan Simmons declaring for the NBA Draft.

Assuming Knowles starts over Pitt transfer J.J. Richardson, the freshmen duo will be joined in the starting frontcourt by Tashawn Thomas who had an outstanding freshman campaign for UH due to his effort on the boards and efficiency on offense.  Richardson’s arrival adds some needed physicality down low and helps replace Alandise Harris who decided to transfer to Arkansas.  Leon Gibson provides more depth and experience inside while freshman Valentine Izundu and Mikhail McLean who missed most of last season due a stress fracture in his foot will find playing time hard to come by.

Like Thomas, Joseph Young and J.J. Thompson made their presence felt in their first year with the Cougars.  Young is the team’s best three-point threat and will likely be the team’s go-to scorer.  Thompson is more of a creator and will be puhsed by JUCO transfers Brandon Morris and Tione Womack who join walk-on Jimmie Jones as other options for Dickey at the point.  LeRon Barnes and Jherred Stiggers each battled injury last year as freshmen but are now healthy and will look to earn floor time on the wing.

It would too bold a prediction to think Houston will make a major leap this season.  However, with only one senior on the roster, the future is bright for the Cougars who enter their final year in C-USA before bolting for the Big East… which makes tons of sense since ya know, Houston is totally an east coast city.

Player to Watch: Danuel House
House turned down offers from major college basketball programs like Texas, Kansas, Baylor, Ohio State, and Georgetown among others and instead chose to stay home in hopes of sparking the Cougars into a new era.  He stayed loyal to the Cougars who were on his trail during the recruiting process before anybody else and will be the face of the program for however long he is wearing a UH uniform.

OTHER 111 IN 111′S:
#93 UCF Knights
#94 Old Dominion Monarchs
#95 Oregon Ducks
#96 LSU Tigers
#97 South Carolina Gamecocks
#98 Seton Hall Pirates
#99 Georgia Bulldogs
#100 DePaul Blue Demons
#101 Boston College Eagles
#102 Penn State Nittany Lions
#103 Arizona State Sun Devils
#104 Virginia Tech Hokies
#105 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#108 TCU Horned Frogs
#109 Mississippi State Bulldogs
#110 Utah Utes
#111 Nebraska Cornhuskers

David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)

You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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