This year’s UNCP men’s basketball team is stockpiled with talent and appears to possess the deepest talent pool that they’ve had since Head Coach Ben Miller took over the program in 2008. The team’s quality depth is evident when any of the starters come out for a spell or if they get in foul trouble early on in a game, there is no apparent or glaring drop off in the team’s overall play.
In their 90-52 blowout of Flagler on Feb. 2, there were stretches in the game when the coaches decided to sub out the entire starting five and the offense was still humming with the second unit. When, what can be described as the second starting five checking in that game, the Braves were able to build up a huge lead and pull away from the Saints for good.
Two members of that talent rich rotation are a pair of players that didn’t even touch the court last year outside of practice as forward Carson Mounce and guard Cam Hamilton both red shirted last season. The redshirt junior and freshman have provided a major boost and have played some quality minutes for the Braves this season.
The role of a redshirt player during their year that they sit out and save eligibility is to help the players that are active get better in practice, refine themselves and/or their physiques and patiently bide their time if they play a position that the team is front loaded with at the time.
“Carson really transformed his body. He’s running better, defensively he’s more active, he’s always been able to score the ball, but he’s improved his overall athleticism and other areas of his game… with somewhat limited minutes he’s been very productive as well,” said Miller.
Coach stated that Mounce really dedicated himself to eating right, improving on his overall athleticism and adding muscle mass to his towering 6ft. 10in. frame.
“Cam worked extremely hard and gave us fits on scout on the team… Cam’s ability to score the ball but also be disruptive on defense and rebound the ball for his size… there’s two great additions to our rotation,” said Miller.
Hamilton has brought some real juice to the Braves on both offense and defense coming off the bench this year. He is currently fourth on the team in scoring, first in three-point attempts as well as percentage and is tied for second in steals.
“He gives us a big spark coming off the bench. He’s always full of energy whether its scoring, getting steals, rebounding the ball - he really, beyond scoring, impacts the game in a lot of different ways,” said Miller.
During the recruiting process the coaches can make a good basement that a potential player could be a redshirt candidate based upon factors such as physical maturity or academics, but they ultimately leave the decision up to the players themselves. After watching them for a few weeks in practice they can inform a player about the number of minutes that they are projected to receive and where they’ll be in the rotation.
“A lot of times if it looks like the minutes might not be 15 or more sometimes, we may advise them to really consider redshirting but we always let the players make those decisions,” said Miller.
Coach cited the academic benefits of a player redshirting because most college students take five years to graduate and in the past, some players have been able to pick a minor or even a second major.