Only a few years ago, many teams in this area were made up of football scholarship men keeping busy during the winter season. Today, all colleges are in the bidding for good local high school basketball players, and there is no reason why a section which already produces some fine football teams will not shortly come into its own on the court. It is still a league, however, where one truly superior player can carry a reasonably good team to the championship, as Charles Brown did for TEXAS WESTERN last season and appears likely to do again. Brown, a mere 6 feet 1, can rebound with the biggest and score from any position—he led the league in both departments last year. His support consists of only one other ex-starter, 6-foot-5 Wayne Jones, but there are six of last year's reserves still around, plus some good sophomores led by 6-foot-4 Hans Fields and Gerry Gilley. Coach McCarty figures on a taller, speedier, better-shooting squad, though he could still use one really big man. ARIZONA STATE can field the same team which was first in league scoring last year, but will undoubtedly make room for schoolboy All America Albert Nealey, who averaged 21 points as a freshman. The Sun Devils all run between 6 feet and 6 feet 5; Dick Daugherty, Jim Newman, Willard Nobly, Garth Wilson and Royce Youree are the holdover starters and there are two other senior reserves on the squad. The problem here is that new Coach Wulk is unfamiliar with the other teams in the conference and brings with him a new system for his men to master. He plans to run a lot and to employ a so-called lane offense, which amounts to a triple pivot. His defense is strictly man-to-man, while the zone is gradually moving in elsewhere. The HARDIN-SIMMONS Cowboys were the giants of the Border last season, and though they lost all-conference Center Bob Tremaine, two of the biggest and best are back: 6-foot-8 Carl Knight and 6-foot-7 Doyle Edmiston, both fine boardmen. Coach Scott will lean on sophomores to fill out a first five, principally Ronnie Ensey and Lynn Faubion, both 6 feet 3, up front, and Guards Mel Cunningham and Joe Arden. The Cowboys' strength, naturally, is in controlling the ball off the boards; unfortunately, they do not have a man with a sure scoring touch to take advantage of possession. Since they are also short on speed, this is a serious weakness. They play a single instead of the tandem post and alternate on defense. Last season's doormat, the New Mexico AGGIES, have already been chosen as a dark horse for three reasons. First is their closing rush last year, featuring a hard-fought overtime loss to the champions from Texas Western. Second is the great promise of Sophomore Wayne Yates, a 6-foot-6 rebounder with a fine scoring touch, and third is a wealth of returning support. This includes Glen Markham, Bob Jarrett, Lee Bowen, Roy Clymer and Jimmy Oliver. Inside, the Aggies will be tough, but Coach Askew needs better outside shooting for balance. ARIZONA'S roster is loaded with men in the 6-foot-2 to 6-foot-o class, but there is no really big man in sight. In the former class are Bob Mueller, Ed Nymeyer, Warren Ridge, Louis Hopkins, Earl Lubbers, Dick Mower and three sophomores. All-conference Mueller, a strong rebounder, and good driver and shooter Nymeyer make up a solid one-two punch in the front court. The scoring balance and depth are also adequate. Given one tall Texan, the Wildcats would be title contenders. New Coach Borden Price at WEST TEXAS STATE is also looking for real size and can't find it. All his experience is Allen Simpson, the only regular returning. The Buffaloes will be rebuilding this year, around Simpson and Sophomore Junior Fitts, an all-round floorman. Like most inexperienced clubs, their offense will rest on outside scoring; all players learn to shoot first. Mastering defense, and even pattern offense, is the hard part.
Man to watch: TEXAS WESTERN'S CHARLES BROWN