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  1. Matt Brune | Staff Writer Winners. That’s what newly appointed head basketball coach Grant McCasland wants in the North Texas basketball program. It’s something McCasland did plenty of in his lone season at Arkansas State University last season, when he doubled the Red Wolves’ win total from 10 to 20 in just one year. He remains adamant that having players with experience winning is crucial to building a successful program. This has always been McCasland’s approach to recruiting. With a Division II national title under his belt and several trips to the Elite Eight, McCasland has the resume to back up his strategy. “The No. 1 need for us was to find guys that want to win and came from winning programs,” McCasland said. “After that, the key was getting guys that knew how to play and could shoot.” With the 2017 roster set, that’s exactly what McCasland got in his first recruiting class at North Texas. McCasland and his staff were able to lure in seven new players — four junior college transfers and three true freshmen. This approach allows them to pair the young talent of the three freshmen with the experience of the four transfers and the players coming back from last year’s squad. “We’re excited [about this freshman class],” associate head coach Ross Hodge said. “Zach Simmons ended up being the 16th best player in the state. I think Umoja [Gibson] was a top 25 player in the state. Both are really good kids.” The third piece to that freshman class puzzle is Mark Tikhonenko, a 6’10 Russian forward. View Full Article
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