Hilltopper Hysteria showcases WKU’s depth

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WKU kicked off the 2014-15 basketball season Saturday night with Hilltopper Hysteria, giving fans their first glimpse of this year’s Hilltoppers. The team played a 20-minute scrimmage, and although little defense was played, you could still see the team’s depth that Head Coach Ray Harper spoke about at Conference USA’s media day earlier last week, something the Toppers have lacked in recent seasons.

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This year’s roster features a veteran squad that returns 72.5 percent of scoring and 54.3 percent of rebounding from a season ago. The team has combined for 17 varsity letters at WKU, the most since the 2008-09 season. Four starters – led by preseason all-conference selections George Fant and T.J. Price – return, as well as two others with significant starting experience. Simply put, this is the most experienced Hilltopper team since Courtney Lee and Tyrone Brazelton led WKU to the Sweet 16 in 2008.

However, as good as the vets looked, the young talent stole the show. WKU debuted five newcomers, headlined by Kentucky Mr. Basketball finalist Justin Johnson, who scored 14 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in the scrimmage. JUCO transfer Ayinde Sprewell, nephew of former NBA star Latrell Sprewell [ed. note – this is the last time you’ll hear that on this site. Trust me.], displayed his athleticism by winning the slam dunk contest by jumping over a teammate. Sophomore Ben Lawson, after a summer playing for the Great Britain National Team in the U-20 European Basketball Championship, was the most impressive player of the evening, leading all scorers with 19 points.

When you mix veteran leadership with the potential of the newcomers, it’s easy to see why expectations are high for this team — there’s talent at every position. Let’s take a closer look at the roster, and break it down by position.