Oct. 13, 2006
Houston - University of Houston head basketball coach Tom Penders welcomed five returning players, along with 10 new players and three new members of his staff when the Cougars held their first official preseason workout for the 2006-07 season Friday afternoon in Hofheinz Pavilion.
Penders begins his third year at the helm ranked among the nation's top eight coaches in wins with 566 career victories. He enters his 33rd season as a collegiate head coach with a 566-385 record after leading the Cougars to a 39-24 mark in his first two years at Houston.
The five returning players who participated in practice included preseason All-Conference USA selections Oliver Lafayette and Lanny Smith, along with forwards Jahmar Thorpe, Sam Anderson and Richard Young.
They were joined by newcomers Dion Dowell, a transfer from Texas who will begin his Cougar career in December, junior college transfers Robert Lee, Robert McKiver, Marcus Malone, Charlie Jones, Anthony Jones and Tafari Toney, along with freshmen Nick Mosley, Al Jones and Kyle Hatcher. In addition, 6-11 center Marcus Cousin will sit out the 2006-07 season after transferring from Seton Hall.
Lafayette led Houston in scoring with 15.7 points per game and set school and Conference USA records for the most steals per game with a 3.39 average. His steals average also ranked second nationally.
Smith, a 2005-06 All-Conference USA and All-Region selection, was cleared to participate in non-contact shooting and running drills with the team. He also saw limited action while the team was scrimmaging. He and Penders will not decide until early November if he will or will not play this season. He could sit out the entire year as a medical redshirt if needed.
Thorpe started 25 of Houston's 31 games and averaged 9.2 points and 4.7 rebounds per game as a junior.
Anderson played 20 games as a walk-on forward and emerged as Houston's top reserve frontline player when he averaged 4.6 points and 3.2 rebounds for the Cougars.
Young played in seven games after sitting out most of his junior season after undergoing preseason knee surgery.
Dowell will not join Houston's lineup until December after transferring to UH from Texas last January.
Lee was a Second-Team, All-American after averaging 20.1 points, 2.2 assists and 1.7 steals at Seminole (Okla.) State College in 2005-06.
McKiver was an All-Region performer at San Jacinto College last season after averaging 17.9 points and 3.2 assists. He also was named the MVP at the Region XIV Tournament after leading the Ravens to the NJCAA National Tournament.
Malone comes to Houston after playing a Lee College last year and at DePaul as a freshman.
Charlie Jones is a sophomore point guard who came to Houston from Blinn College after ranked fourth among regional leaders with 5.5 assists per game. He also was a redshirt freshman at Colorado State before playing last season at Blinn.
Anthony Jones also played at Seminole last year, where he averaged 8.5 points 4.6 rebounds and 2.5 blocked shots per game.
Toney was ranked one of the Top Five junior college forwards in Texas last year after playing the last two years at San Jacinto, where he averaged 8.2 points and 8.8 rebounds per game last season.
In addition to the new players, Penders also has added three new members to his coaching staff this season to join holders Melvin Haralson, Trey Preston, Michael Young and Chris Howell. They are senior assistant coach Kevin Lewis and administrative assistant Darrell Hawkins.
Haralson is in his seventh season at Houston and his third as the Cougars associate head coach and recruiting coordinator. He has help Houston sign a nationally ranked recruiting class in each of the last three years.
Lewis is joins Houston's staff after serving as an assistant coach at TCU during the past four seasons. A former high school at Houston's Episcopal High School, Lewis also was an assistant coach at Baylor and New Mexico.
Preston begins his first season as an assistant coach after serving as Houston's director of video and summer camps the last two years. He came to UH after serving as an assistant coach at Incarnate Word and his alma mater, Texas Lutheran.
Young is in his third season as director of operations and performance enhancement. A former All-America player on Houston's famed Phi Slama Jama teams, Young returned to his alma mater in 1998 as the Cougars' strength and conditioning coach and was an assistant coach for one year.
Howell is in his first season as Houston's director of video and summer camps after assisting with Houston's recruiting and scheduling efforts the last three years.
Hawkins comes to Houston from Prairie View A&M, where he was the interim head coach last season and an assistant coach for three years.
Houston opens its 2006-07 season at Rhode Island on Nov. 13 before playing its home opener against Monmouth at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 18.