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October 30, 2012
Since Tim Floyd was hired to lead the UTEP Men's basketball team three years ago the frontcourt has been a significant weakness mainly due to a lack of size, injury problems and experience.
While injuries are the great unknown and can't be controlled, Floyd and his staff are doing their best to ensure some major contributions from the UTEP big men.
Last season was not a total bust as junior John Bohannon started to turn the corner with some impressive performances last season on offense and on the boards. Now is the time for Bohannon to take the reins as the leader of this frontcourt and take his place as one of the top pivot men in Conference USA.
Along with Bohannon's rise, one of the pleasant surprises of the season was the emergence of sophomore Cedrick Lang. Lang came in as a true freshman and gave the Miner frontcourt a huge boost with his physical play on both ends of the court while playing most of the season with an injured foot.
Speaking of injury, the Miners will benefit greatly having a completely healthy Lang and the return of freshman Hooper Vint (back injury) and junior Malcolm Moore (knee).
Moore who is not yet 100% is coming off an impressive performance in the recent Orange and White scrimmage as he showed why Floyd brought him to El Paso. Moore led the team in rebounds with 12 (7 offensive) and was the third-leading scorer with 17 points on six of nine shooting (5-7 FT).
Vint still has a ways to go, but you can't teach size and at 6 feet 10 inches, he will be a valuable asset to the frontcourt in the years to come with his offensive skill set.
One of the new faces on the team is freshman power forward, Chris Washburn, at 6 feet 8 inches and 240 pounds he will be an important piece to the puzzle and could determine how good this frontcourt can be by the end of the season.
Washburn showed Miner fans why he was so highly rated as a high school senior leading the Orange squad with 16 points converting on eight of his nine shot attempts and pulling down four rebounds.
Still a bit early to say with just a scrimmage under their belts, but it's safe to say that this year's frontcourt is trending up and could be the difference between a good season and a great season.
Coming later this week, Josh Puga will discuss the backcourt and how the newest additions of players, primarily Parade All-American Twymond Howard and fith-year senior Konnor Tucker will help Floyd continue his quest to make UTEP a national powerhouse.
Josh Puga can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow him on Twitter at @jpuga1966 . Make sure to follow Miner Illustrated on Twitter at @minermaniac for more up-to-date news and information about UTEP.