12. North Texas Mean Green
2019-20: 20-11 (14-4), Conference USA regular season champion
Grant McCasland hasn’t wasted any time getting things up and running in Denton. The Mean Green won 20 games for the third straight year, and the 34th-most efficient offense, per KenPom, propelled them to a C-USA title.
The biggest revelation was the emergence of Javion Hamlet, who turned out to be one of the best JuCo transfers in the country last season. The guard led the Mean Green in scoring at 14.6 points per game and assists at 4.7. His play earned him C-USA Player of the Year honors, and it’s reasonable to think that he enters next season as one of the frontrunners to take home the award next year.
Hamlet will need to be a star again to help pick up some of the slack from the departures of Umoja Gibson (transfer to Oklahoma) and Deng Geu. However, he won’t be alone. The Mean Green bring back four other seniors, including starters James Reese and Zachary Simmons. Thomas Bell also returns after leading the team in rebounds and hitting just under 37 percent from deep coming off the bench.
It all runs through Hamlet, though. When he goes, the Mean Green go. Lucky for McCasland, he has one of the best point guards in the country at his disposal. North Texas should be in the top tier of C-USA again.
Read more: https://www.midmajormadness.com/2020/5/14/21256196/the-other-top-25-2021-dayton-flyers-st-bonaventure-bonnies-austin-peay-jalen-crutcher
"You find a love for the game and your team that you didn't know you had in high school," said junior Javion Hamlet who went to two different junior colleges before landing in Denton. "Try telling me I don't love the game when I had to live in a house with 16 other teammates in a city I didn't know and eat grimy food every day."
McCasland's love for the game and the experiences that life haa brought him and his family doesn't just extend to him driving a team bus.
Before becoming the head coach at Midland, McCasland was an assistant at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, Colorado.
But when he was hired as the second assistant, he needed to first find a job on campus as there was no full-time coaching positions available.
A resident hall assistant is what he got.
So he and his wife Cece, both in their early 20s and just a week into their marriage, packed up their bags and moved into Herboldscheimer Hall on the campus of Northeastern JC.
Crammed into a small dorm room in a building that held 80 students, McCasland coached during the day and patrolled the dorm at night.
"I still remember being up at 2 a.m. and writing up women for having chew tobacco cups in the lobby," McCasland said. "Then Cece and I would wake up and make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the team.
"But at the time I didn't wish I was doing something else. I'm still close with the people from Herboldscheimer Hall. And they didn't play basketball. They were friends of my wife and I. They were family. It was all about the relationships of the people inside Herboldscheimer Hall that you were doing life with and the similar experiences you were going through" he added.
Read more: https://meangreensports.com/news/2019/10/2/mens-basketball-mac-drives-the-bus.aspx
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