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Multiple postseason awards pour in for UTEP men’s basketball

DALLAS, Texas (KVIA) -- Numerous postseason honors from Conference USA were bestowed upon members of the UTEP men's basketball team, the league office revealed Monday.

Tae Hardy was tabbed to the All-CUSA Second Team, David Terrell Jr. was voted as the CUSA Freshman of the Year, Otis Frazier III earned placement on the five-member CUSA All-Defensive team along with securing All-CUSA Honorable-Mention accolades and the Miners accounted for three of the five individuals on the CUSA All-Freshman Team in the form of Trey Horton IIIElijah Jones and Terrell Jr.

It is the initial all-league honors for Hardy and the first for the Miners in two years. Terrell Jr. becomes the first UTEP player to be the conference Freshman of the Year since Vince Hunter in 2014 and just the fourth all time. Roy Smallwood (2000) and Henry Hall (1990) were both previously recognized when the Orange and Blue were members of the WAC.

The three Miners on the CUSA All-Freshman team are the most in a single season in program history. In fact, UTEP hadn't been represented on the squad since 2019, and it never had more than one player on the team in a year. Frazier III becomes the first UTEP representative on the All-Defensive team since Julian Washburn garnered what was his third and final honor in the category in 2015.

Hardy has been the most consistent player for the Miners who has thrived both offensively and defensively. He is one of two players in the league (Isaiah Crawford is the other) to rate in the top five in the conference for both points per game (15.2-fourth) and steals per contest (2.2-fourth CUSA/99th NCAA). He has reached double figures in scoring in 20 of the past 23 tilts and a team-best 27 times this year. That included peeling off a career-long stretch of 12 in a row (prior best seven). The Georgia native has also produced a squad-most eight 20+ point showings, doing so seven times over the past 16 contests.

In addition to leading UTEP in scoring, he tops the Orange and Blue in minutes per game (33.3-first CUSA), 3-pointers made (66), attempted (172) and 3-pointers per game (2.1-sixth CUSA). He rates second in assists per game (2.6-11th CUSA) and steals. Hardy has registered multiple steals in 14 contests, with seven in league action. He can get to the rim, placing among the league leaders for both free throws made (78-ninth) and attempted (113-eighth). He's delivered in the clutch, hitting the buzzer-beating 3-pointer in the 75-72 victory against Pac-12 member Cal. He also delivered the dagger with a driving lay-up with UTEP up three with 35 seconds left in an eventual victory at Jax State on Feb. 29.

Terrell Jr. was named the CUSA Freshman of the Week a league-most and program-record six times this year, all of which occurred since the start of league action. That included claiming the honor in three straight weeks, making him and Jones the only individuals on the campaign to accomplish that feat. He made steadfast progress as the year wore on, leading all UTEP reserves by rating fifth on the team in scoring in CUSA games at 6.4 ppg. That was aided by going 33-43 at the charity stripe. Four of his five double-digit scoring efforts occurred during league play.

Overall, he is tied for third on the squad for assists (1.9-tied 20th CUSA), fifth in steals (1.3-ninth CUSA) and six for scoring. He is earning 19.5 minutes per game and has appeared in all 31 contests of the year. The Dallas native has made at least two steals in 11 tilts, with six of those occurring in league action.

Frazier III has been the top defender for the Miners, who paces the nation in both steals per game (11.5) and turnovers forced per contest (19.0). He leads UTEP in steals per tilt (2.3-second CUSA/16th NCAA), with 18 games of at two or more (13 in CUSA action). The Arizona native became the first DI or NBA Player in the last 25 years to have 20+ points (21), 8+ steals (school-record tying eight) and shoot 100 percent from the floor (6-6) in a win against Middle Tennessee on Jan. 18. Overall, he is second on the team in scoring (11.1 ppg) while shooting a crisp 51.3 percent. He has tallied 10+ points 19 times, which trails only Hardy for most by a Miner this season.

Frazier III works the board as well, grabbing 4.7 rebounds per game (third CUSA/20th CUSA), doing so in both offensive (1.8 orpg-first team/13th CUSA) and defensive (2.9-third team/23rd CUSA). He was named the CUSA Player of the Week on Jan. 22 after averaging 13.5 ppg, on a team-leading 64.3 percent from the floor, to go along with pacing the Miners in rebound (6.5 rpg), assists (4.0 apg) and spg (6.0). Frazier III has taken more than double the free throws he attempted last year, making 84 (sixth CUSA) out of 128 (fifth CUSA) tosses.

Jones earned the CUSA Freshman of the Week honor four times, tying for the second most in the league this year. He garnered the award the first three weeks of the season, becoming the initial Miner to peel off three in a row, before Terrell Jr. matched that later in the year. Jones has nailed 60.9 percent (42-69) of his shots, including 8-21 (38.1 percent) from distance. He has also gone 13-17 (76.5 percent) at the charity stripe. Overall, Jones is pitching in 4.0 ppg and 1.8 rpg. The New Jersey native has come off the bench to notch at least five points in nine different games, including a career-high tying 19 points in the first two tilts of the year. 

Horton III is a sharpshooter who was voted the CUSA Freshman of the Week on Jan. 15 after coming off the bench to tally a career-high 14 points in only 17 minutes of action at FIU on Jan. 13. He was 5-6 from the floor, including drilling a career-best four treys. He added a career-high two steals in the game. Horton III has filled up 44.1 percent (15-34) of his shots in league play, including 40.0 percent (10-25) from distance.

The fifth-seeded Miners will open play at the 2024 CUSA Championships by taking on No. 4 seed Liberty in the quarterfinals at 4:30 p.m. MT/5:30 p.m. CT on Thursday. Jon Teicher (43rd year) and Steve Yellen (21st year) will be on the call on "The Home of UTEP Basketball" 600 ESPN El Paso and the UTEP Miners App. It will also be broadcast on ESPN+ (subscription required).

Article Topic Follows: Sports

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Bea Martinez

UTEP Athletics


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