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    July 10, 2013

    By Tom Weber

    CARBONDALE, Ill. - With Saluki fans hungry for any kind of tidbits about next year's men's basketball team, here's a quick scouting report on the nine newcomers, based on observations from 90 minutes of practice time during the past week.

    Mike Balogun: Good 3-point stroke, athletic, competitive

    Marcus Fillyaw: Sees the court well, good passer, doesn't look to score

    Hunter Gibson: Solid build, spot-up shooter, hairline makes him look older than 22

    KC Goodwin: Quickest player on the team, rail-thin, unorthodox jumper

    Sean O'Brien: Inside and outside threat, good feel for the game, potential All-Freshman team

    Bola Olaniyan: Raw but powerful, not a leaper, good long-term potential

    Tyler Smithpeters: Great feel for the game, 3-point shooter, skinny

    Bronson Verhines: Does a little bit of everything well, limited by his lack of size and strength

    Dawson Verhines: More muscular than his brother, competitive, knows the game

    It's much too early to draw conclusions, but fun to speculate. O'Brien looks like the cream of the crop among the new players and could be a candidate for the All-Freshman team. He already demonstrates the best post-up moves on the team, and at 6-foot-6 and 195 pounds, is technically a guard. Balogun is the most athletic of the newcomers. Given time and continued development, there's a chance freshmen Olaniyan, Smithpeters and Goodwin could become solid MVC players during the course of their careers.




    Questions abound with this team. Who will take over at point guard? How will the team offset its lack of size? How much improvement will young veterans like Anthony Beane and Jalen Pendleton make? Can injury-prone Davante Drinkard and Josh Swan stay healthy? Desmar Jackson is one of the most gifted players in the MVC, but will that translate into an All-Conference-type season?


    My first impression at practice was that this is not an "airport" team. Of course, Southern has never been an airport team that flaunts its 7-footers. The tallest starter in the past 12 years was 6-foot-9 Brad Korn. The Salukis have made up for it in the past with muscular, athletic kids, though this year's team has only two players who weigh more than 200 pounds (Drinkard and Olaniyan).


    The non-conference schedule is almost complete. A few dates are still tentative, but the home schedule will feature Saint Louis, Western Kentucky, Ball State and SIUE. The road slate includes Missouri, Austin Peay, Chicago State, Murray State and Miami University. The Salukis will play in an eight-team tournament at a neutral site in Florida right before Thanksgiving. The entire field will consist of mid-majors.


    Some football roster notes...kicker Jackson MacLachlan, cornerback Tay Griffin and fullback PJ Ellis will not return for the 2013 season. MacLachlan kicked in three games last year before losing his starting job to Austin Johnson. He will be best remembered for kicking the game-winning field goal in a 20-18 win over Missouri State in 2011.

    The start of training camp is just 25 days away. The Salukis will lace `em up for the first practice on Sunday, Aug. 4.


    With Saluki Athletics celebrating 100 Years of Saluki Football and Basketball, an exciting opportunity for you to participate will begin in about two weeks, as fans will get to vote on the All-Century team. The Football team will consist of 50 players with fans voting on-line at