Utah State men's basketball team will hold its first official practice of the 2012-13 season on Friday, Oct. 12 at 5 p.m. in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum as head coach Stew Morrill enters his 15th season at USU and 27th overall by welcoming 15 players to the court. Practices are closed to the public.
Utah State returns three starters among five lettermen from last year's team that finished the season with a 21-16 record, advancing to the championship game of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament (CIT). USU extended its current school records for consecutive 20-win seasons and postseason appearances to 13-straight in 2012 as it is one of just five schools nationally to win 21 games in each of the last 13 years. Utah State's current run of 13-straight postseason appearances is tied for the 11th-longest active streak in the nation.
USU enters its eighth and final year in the Western Athletic Conference, as the Aggies have amassed a 178-65 (.732) overall record, including 83-27 (.755) in WAC games, going 8-6 last season and finishing fourth.
In his 14 years as the Aggies' head coach, Morrill has led USU to an incredible 345-119 (.744) record, including a 175-55 (.761) conference ledger in Big West and WAC action. While at Utah State, he has guided the Aggies to 13 straight 21-win seasons and 13-straight postseason appearances (8-NCAA, 4-NIT, 1-CIT), both of which are school records. Morrill is the winningest coach in school history and ranks first all-time in games coached (464). Morrill is also the second-longest tenured coach in school history behind E. Lowell Romney (1920-41), who spent 22 years coaching basketball.
Headlining the USU returners is junior guard Preston Medlin, who averaged 17.0 points per game to go with 4.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists per contest and was named first-team all-WAC in 2012, marking the 13th-straight year that Utah State has had at least one player earn first-team all-conference honors. Medlin was the second sophomore in school history to earn first-team all-league honors along with Nate Harris (2004).
Medlin started all 37 games for the Aggies, setting a school record for games started and games played, and finished the season shooting 49.6 percent from the field (204-of-411), 42.8 percent from three-point range (95-of-222) and 80.1 percent at the free-throw line (125-of-156). Medlin scored in double-figures 31 times, including 20-plus points 13 times and a career-high 32 points against Idaho. He finished the year ranking second in the WAC and 16th in the nation in three-point shooting, third in the WAC and 80th in the nation in points per game, and 10th in the WAC and 75th in the nation in overall shooting. Medlin also ranked fourth in the league in free-throw shooting, seventh in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.70) and ninth in assists.
Utah State’s most experienced position heading into the 2012-13 season will be at power forward as it returns two proven players here from a year ago in senior starter Kyisean Reed and sophomore reserve Ben Clifford. Reed was named to the league’s all-newcomer team a year ago as he averaged 10.0 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocked shots per game, while shooting 61.4 percent from the field (135-of-220) and 67.9 percent at the free-throw line (91-of-134). He finished the season ranking first in the WAC in field goal shooting, sixth in blocked shots and 14th in rebounding. He also had 40 dunks to rank first in the conference.
After redshirting his first year at Utah State, Clifford played in 36 games, starting four, in 2012 and finished the season averaging 4.4 points and 3.5 rebounds, while shooting 50.9 percent from the field (58-of-114), 38.9 percent from three-point range (7-of-18) and 72.9 percent at the free-throw line (35-of-48) in 16.8 minutes per outing.
In addition to Medlin and Reed, the Aggies also have a third returning starter in junior Danny Berger, who can play both forward positions. Last season Berger sat out the first six games of the year as a potential redshirt but then started in 25 of 31 games played. Berger netted double-digit points 10 times last season, including three of the final six games, highlighted by tying a school record with five three-pointers in a postseason game as part of his career-high tying 17 points in CollegeInsiders.com Tournament semifinal win over Oakland. Berger finished the year with a 6.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game average, while shooting 37.2 percent from the field (64-of-172) and 36.7 percent from three-point range (36-of-98) to go with a 76.9 percent free-throw shooting (40-of-52).
The fifth returning Aggie letterman is sophomore center Jordan Stone. Stone saw action in 31 games last season. He tallied 2.1 points and 2.5 rebounds per contest.
Joining Utah State's five returning lettermen are two redshirts, junior center Jarred Shaw and sophomore center Matt Lopez, as well as eight newcomers. The newcomers are evenly split of four junior college players in junior forward/guard Spencer Butterfield, junior forwards Sean Harris and Marvin Jean, and junior guard TeNale Roland. The four-player freshman class consists of forwards Quincy Bair and Quinn Taylor, along with guards Riley Bradshaw and Marcel Davis.
The Aggies open the 2012-13 season on Friday, Oct. 26, in an exhibition game against Grand Canyon at 7 p.m. USU will host Simon Fraser in an exhibition game on Saturday, Nov. 3 at 7 p.m., before kicking off the regular-season schedule by hosting Idaho State on Saturday, Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. USU opens the season with four-straight home games.
Utah State men's basketball season tickets for the 2012-13 season are now on sale at the USU Ticket Office.
Ticket prices are $230 in non-priority areas and $220 in priority areas, where Big Blue Scholarship Fund per seat commitment fees apply, ranging from $100-$900 per seat in addition to ticket cost.
Family Plans are also available for purchase at $800 (two adults and three Jr Aggies). Please be aware that there is a limit of one Family Plan per household.
Tickets can be purchased online by clicking on the "Buy Tickets" tab on the USU website or over the phone by calling 1-888-USTATE1 or (435) 797-0305 or in person at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum Ticket Office during regular hours of operation.
Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.