UTSA’s Steve Henson has been honored as both the NABC District 11 and C-USA coach of the year.
Steve Henson has won his second major coaching honor of the season.
He was named on Wednesday as the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) District 11 coach of the year.
In his second year at UTSA, Henson previously had been cited as the Coach of the Year in Conference USA.
Henson won the award on the eve of a CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament quarterfinal between UTSA (20-14) and Sam Houston State (20-14).
UTSA hosts Sam Houston Thursday night at 7.
The Roadrunners finished 5-27 in 2015-16, the year before Henson arrived.
They improved to win 14 games last year and 20 this year on the heels of back-to-back strong recruiting classes.
Two years ago, Henson brought in a freshman class that included Giovanni De Nicolao, Byron Frohnen and George Willborn III.
Last year, his staff added freshmen Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace and transfer Deon Lyle.
Jackson, the Conference USA Freshman of the Year and a second-team, all C-USA selection, averaged 18.4 points per game.
UTSA suffered a blow to its postseason chances when it lost Jackson to a knee injury against Louisiana Tech.
But even without Jackson, the Roadrunners split the next two games on the road to finish the regular season 18-13 overall and 11-7, good for fifth place in the C-USA.
UTSA defeated UTEP to reach the quarterfinals in the C-USA tournament before losing to Marshall, the eventual champion.
In the CIT, UTSA hosted Lamar last Wednesday, recovered from a slow start and won 76-69.
Sam Houston at a glance
Sam Houston State finished the regular season 19-13 overall and fourth in the SLC standings with a 12-6 record.
Moving into the SLC tournament at Katy, the Bearkats routed New Orleans 85-63 before losing in the second round to Southeastern Louisiana, 89-79.
Sam Houston won at home in its first game in the CIT, beating Eastern Michigan 69-62 on Monday, to qualify for the quarterfinal game against UTSA.
The Bearkats have won 20 games or more in four of the past five seasons under coach Jason Hooten. Hooten is in his eighth year at the school.
Sam Houston — Chris Galbreath, Jr. leads Sam Houston, averaging 14.6 points and 7.9 rebounds. John Dewey III averages 10 points and 4.5 assists. Transfer Marcus Harris, who played in high school at MacArthur, is averaging 9.4 points in his first season with the Bearkats.
UTSA — Junior transfer Deon Lyle has stepped up to average 17 points in the five games since Jackson has been out. He has led UTSA in scoring four times during the stretch.
For the season, Lyle is averaging 11.5, Wallace 11.2, Nick Allen 8.8 and De Nicolao 8.4. Willborn, a 4.5 ppg scorer last year, has boosted his average to 7.8 as a sophomore. Byron Frohnen averages 7.6 points and 7.3 rebounds.
Forward Byron Frohnen hits a jump hook in a Feb. 24 home game victory over Louisiana Tech.
UTSA announced Monday that it would host the Lamar Cardinals Wednesday night at 7 in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament, otherwise known as the CIT.
Lamar (19-13) of the Southland Conference is led by veteran coach Tic Price.
Second-year coach Steve Henson has guided UTSA (19-14) of Conference USA to its first national postseason game since 2011 when it last played in the NCAA tournament.
On Sunday, the game was tentatively set for Wednesday night at Lamar, in Beaumont.
But officials announced Monday afternoon that it would be played at the UTSA Convocation Center, a development that pleased Henson.
Henson said that it’s “terrific” to be able to play a postseason game at home.
“Just the opportunity to play, period, is very, very exciting,” the coach said. “When you look at the number of teams that are done right now, less than 40 percent of the teams in the country are still practicing today and getting ready to play a ball game.
“(I’m) proud of our guys for earning the opportunity. Then (we feel) fortunate to get a home game here. Our guys are very excited. Looking forward to playing.”
Lamar forward Josh Nzeakor makes a quick move for a dunk against Incarnate Word on Jan. 17.
On Jan. 25, UTSA was blown out by 24 points at Middle Tennessee. It was the team’s fourth loss in five games, and it left the Roadrunners at 10-11 on the season.
In that regard, it’s surprising that the Roadrunners are practicing in the second week of March.
“It feels good to still be on the court and still be out here playing,” said junior forward Deon Lyle, who was named the C-USA’s sixth man of the year.
Forward Byron Frohnen said the team was initially told on Sunday that it would be traveling.
“But they came out this morning and said it’s going to be a home game,”
he said. “So it’s that much better for us. We did a lot of traveling in the last few weeks.
“We’re definitely excited to stay home with our fans.”
Steve Henson on Wednesday morning proudly accepted the Conference USA’s Gene Bartow Coach of the Year Award.
By Wednesday night, he felt even better after his UTSA Roadrunners defeated UTEP 71-58 in the opening round of the C-USA tournament.
“Just proud of our guys,” Henson told the team’s radio broadcast. “The award today was very nice. But it’s really a reflection of what these guys have done and the progress we’ve made and the direction we’re heading.”
The tournament is being held for the first time in the Ford Center at the Star, in Frisco.
With the victory, fifth-seeded UTSA (19-13) advanced to Thursday’s quarterfinals against the No. 4 Marshall Thundering Herd (21-10).
UTSA entered the postseason with 18 victories, the most for the team in six years.
In the days leading into the tournament, Henson, along with players Jhivvan Jackson, Keaton Wallace and Deon Lyle had pulled down major awards from the C-USA.
But UTSA shrugged off the hype and defeated UTEP for the third time this season.
“I know our younger guys got some awards (earlier in the week),” Henson said. “But we need to come in here and keep winning.”
Lyle, the sixth man of the year in the conference, started for the third straight game in the absence of Jackson, who is out with a knee injury.
He led the Roadrunners with 18 points, including 15 in the second half.
UTSA forward Byron Frohnen had 14 points and 14 rebounds, including 13 points in the first half and nine boards after intermission.
The nitty gritty
UTSA’s defense flustered UTEP again, holding the Miners to less than 40 percent from the field for the third time this season.
UTEP was 22 of 60 from the field for 36.7 percent. Evan Gilyard led the Miners with 29 points.
He hit 10 of 25 shots and 3 of 11 from three.
UTEP took a 2-0 lead on a jumper by Paul Thomas, but UTSA scored seven straight points and never trailed again.
The Roadunners hiked the lead to 10 at halftime and expanded it to 17 with 9:10 remaining.
“It’s hard to beat a team three times in a row,” UTSA forward Nick Allen said. “I’m glad we got that accomplished.”
The next challenge
UTSA and Marshall play similar styles. Both like to shoot the three.
The Roadrunners defeated the Thundering Herd 81-77 on Feb. 1 in San Antonio.
But Marshall has won seven of its last nine, including a 76-67 victory at Middle Tennessee on Saturday, the final day of the regular season.
The season for record-setting UTSA freshman guard Jhivvan Jackson has come to an end.
“Unfortunately, Jhivvan suffered a knee injury that will require surgery,” coach Steve Henson said in a news release. “This is a season-ending injury.
“Jhivvan was having a terrific season for us. We have a fantastic team of athletic trainers and doctors who will take great care of him.”
Photo caption: UTSA’s Jhivvan Jackson (left) poses after a team practice with his grandfather, Flor Melendez, a former Puerto Rico national team coach.
Leading a hoops resurgence
Jackson suffered the injury in the opening minutes of UTSA’s last game on Saturday night, a 74-64 home victory over Louisiana Tech.
The 6-0 guard from Puerto Rico had a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exam on Monday, and UTSA released the results Tuesday morning.
In 29 games, Jackson led UTSA to a 17-12 record, the most wins in a season for the Roadrunners in six years.
He also set the UTSA freshman scoring record with 534 points.
His effort surpassed the previous mark of 483 established 19 years ago by former Spurs player Devin Brown.
Brown’s first year at UTSA out of West Campus High School was in 1998-99.
Jackson also made his mark nationally, averaging 18.4 points for he fifth highest average among freshmen in NCAA Division I.
Freshmen ranking ahead of Jackson in the latest Division I scoring list include Oklahoma’s Trae Young (28.3), Howard’s RJ Cole (23.6), Duke’s Marvin Bagley III (20.7) and Arizona’s Deandre Ayton (19.9).
Young leads all scorers in Division I.
Looking to the future
But in UTSA’s 97-85 loss at OU earlier this season, Jackson had 31 to Young’s 28.
“Jhivvan’s support from his family is terrific, and he has an extremely bright future with us,” Henson said.
UTSA closes out the regular season this week with road games at North Texas on Thursday and at Rice on Saturday.
The Conference USA tournament is scheduled March 7-10 in Frisco.
Jackson was born in Bayamon Puerto Rico, and played on three Puerto Rican junior national teams.
He moved to the Dallas area in middle school and attended Euless Trinity High School.
Freshman Jhivvan Jackson scored 30 points Saturday as the UTSA Roadrunners turned back the Charlotte 49ers, 97-89, in overtime.
In the game played at Charlotte, North Carolina, UTSA’s all-time freshman scoring leader reached the 30-point mark for the third time this season.
He made 11 of 22 shots from the field and, for good measure, he also nailed 4 of 12 from three-point distance.
Freshman Keaton Wallace scored 14 of his 17 points in the first half for the Roadrunners, who barely escaped against the last-place team in Conference USA.
Charlotte has lost 12 straight. UTSA, meanwhile, bounced back from Thursday night’s 100-62 loss at Old Dominion.
The Roadrunners are 6-2 in their last eight.
With the game on the line, Jackson nailed two straight jumpers in the final 25 seconds of regulation.
After Jackson hit the first one, guard Andrien White completed a three-point play to give Charlotte an 84-82 lead.
With the clock ticking under 10 seconds, UTSA advanced the ball and found Jackson, who hit the tying shot with 2.9 ticks left.
Jon Davis missed the potential game winner off the front of the rim at the regulation buzzer.
Jackson scored seven points in the extra period to give him 30 for the game and 518 for the season.
Devin Brown held the UTSA freshman record of 483 points until Jackson surpassed it Thursday night at Old Dominion.
In the overtime against Charlotte, he showed that he can also do more than score.
The former three-time Puerto Rican junior national team member created opportunities for teammates.
Two of Jackson’s late drives to the bucket led directly to four points, on a layup and two free throws, by Byron Frohnen.
UTSA 15-12, 8-6
Charlotte 5-20, 1-13
“Exactly what I expected. I thought they’d be really, really good and that it’d be a fight the whole way, and it was. They have good players. They’re just a little snake-bitten. They can’t quite finish ’em right now. They have a couple of terrific guards. It was tough.” — UTSA coach Steve Henson.
Junior guard Andrien White produced 25 points, six rebounds and four assists. Backcourt mate Jon Davis had 18 points and eight assists.
Southern Miss at UTSA, 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 22
Louisiana Tech at UTSA, 7 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 24
UTSA coach Steve Henson looks forward to playing at last-place Charlotte on Saturday night and trying to find a spark.
Trying to start a new winning streak. Trying anything to forget about Thursday night in Norfolk, Virginia.
After B.J. Stith and the Old Dominion Monarchs dominated in a 100-62 victory, Henson seemed to have a hard time shaking the feeling of his team’s worst loss of the season.
“We can’t let this destroy what we’ve done the last few weeks,” Henson said on the team’s radio broadcast. “We’ve been doing good things. We just got man-handled tonight.
“It was grown men just taking us to school. We didn’t have much response to it.”
Stith produced a career-high 36 points and pulled down 10 rebounds for the Monarchs, who won their fourth in a row.
In winning their eighth game out of nine, Old Dominion improved to 20-5 overall and 11-2 in Conference USA.
Winners of four straight coming in, UTSA fell to 14-12 and 7-6.
The 38-point margin of defeat eclipsed a 24-point loss that UTSA suffered at Middle Tennessee on Jan. 25 as the worst of the season.
Stith made an early statement, hitting a three-pointer 20 seconds into the game and then scoring 28 by halftime.
By that time, the Monarchs were in charge, 52-36.
“He was just fantastic in the first half,” Henson said. “He was pretty good overall. He just had a real good rhythm going and got hot and made threes. Got to the free-throw line. Did a little bit of everything.”
Jackson breaks UTSA freshman record
UTSA guard Jhivvan Jackson moved up to No. 1 in the UTSA record books for points scored by a freshman, surpassing Devin Brown.
Jackson pumped in 22, giving him 488 for the season.
Brown, who later played in the NBA and won a championship ring with the Spurs, scored 483 for the Roadrunners in 1998-99.
Championship teams share a few common characteristics.
They play with consistent aggression and never allow an opponent to think they can win.
The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders used that formula to dominate the UTSA Roadrunners 75-51 Thursday night in Conference USA men’s basketball.
In the game played at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, the Blue Raiders buried the Roadrunners with a 40-24 second half.
“They just took it right to us,” UTSA coach Steve Henson told the team’s radio broadcast. “They wore on us and wore on us and dominated the glass, and … we just couldn’t make…we just didn’t compete offensively.
“We just don’t compete enough. We just settle for shots. When it’s hard, we don’t know how to respond, and it was hard.”
After representing the C-USA at the NCAA tournament two years in a row, the Blue Raiders showed why they are projected to make it three straight.
Forwards Nick King and Brandon Walters had their way, with King scoring a game-high 22 points and Walters grabbing 14 rebounds.
Middle Tennessee (15-5, 7-1) also enjoyed a strong showing from guard Antwain Johnson, who scored 15.
Jhivvan Jackson scored 17, but nobody else hit double figures as UTSA (10-11, 3-5) recorded its fewest points in a game this season.
Henson said he liked how his players protected the ball in the first half, when they led briefly 14-11 and went into the dressing room down only 35-27.
“Other than that, offensively, you got to drive it down in there and expect to finish,” Henson said. “We’re taking jump shots. I think guys shooting ’em are expecting ’em to go in. It’s just easier to let it fly.
“We got to find a better balance between having some offensive freedom and taking bad shots. We got to drive it. We don’t get to the free throw line. We got to get on the attack. We got to … get in the paint and finish around the rim.”
UTSA hit 4 of its first 8 from 3-point range and then went cold, hitting only 3 of 16 the rest of the way.
The Blue Raiders held the Roadrunners to 21 of 61 from the field overall for 34 percent.
“I thought our guys started the game with a terrific mindset,” Henson said. “I thought we were fighting defensively. We did some really good things from the scouting report.
“We took away some of their strengths. We did a good job on (guard Giddy) Potts all night. We paid extra attention to him. But (with) their style, their toughness, just wore on us, just kept chipping away at us.
“Kind of shows us how far we’ve got to go to become a good ball club.”
UTSA will move on to play at Alabama-Birmingham on Saturday night. UAB broke a two-game losing streak by defeating UTEP 85-78 Thursday.
Lewis Sullivan scored 19 as the Blazers (14-7, 5-3) shot 55.2 percent from the field.
UTSA freshmen Jhivvan Jackson drives for two against Florida International
For nearly a week after Hurricane Maria pounded Jhivvan Jackson’s native Puerto Rico, he may have been one of the most stressed-out freshmen in the UTSA athletic department, if not on the entire campus.
Jhivvan Jackson (left) and his grandfather, veteran coach Flor Melendez
The first month of the fall semester in September is hectic for anyone in college. But for Jackson, a basketball prodigy who grew up in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, it was nerve-wracking.
Back at home where he once spent carefree days shooting hoops on his grandfather’s backyard court, members of his family – including his mother and an older brother – did their best to hunker down and weather the Category 5 storm that hit the island on Sept. 20.
For five days after 150-mph wind and rain strafed the island, Jackson tried unsuccessfully to find out what had happened. Over and over again, he’d call and leave a message on voice mail.
“I couldn’t get through for about a week,” Jackson said, “because there was no (phone) service. I just believed. I just knew everything was going to be good.”
Finally, on the fifth day, his phone buzzed with the good news he was praying for. His mother was calling to tell him that everyone was OK.
“It just relieved all the stress I had,” Jackson said. “It was stressful.”
All of which makes Jackson’s ensuing rise in stature as one of the top freshmen in the nation this season all the more remarkable.
As UTSA prepares to play a 2 p.m. home game today against Florida Atlantic, Jackson has emerged as the seventh leading freshman scorer in NCAA Division I.
Only the likes of Trae Young at Oklahoma, Marvin Bagley III of Duke and Collin Sexton of Alabama rank ahead of Jackson, who leads the Roadrunners with 18.4 points per game.
A proud grandfather’s support
Veteran Puerto Rico basketball coach Flor Melendez, who is Jackson’s proud grandfather, said it isn’t a surprise to him that his grandson could set aside the family’s storm-related concerns to focus on school and basketball.
“It’s not a surprise for me,” Melendez said after a recent practice at the Convocation Center. “Jhivvan start to play at six years old. Practice. Practice. Six, seven, eight years old. Every day, working hard. Shot. Shot. Ball handling. Behind my house, on the court, I see him. Shot. Shot.”
Jackson’s grandfather has a long track record of success in the sport.
According to an online bio confirmed through the FIBA communications office, he played for the Puerto Rican national team in the 1968 Olympics.
Later, after a pro career, Melendez started coaching in the late 1970s and coached national teams for Puerto Rico, Argentina and Panama, along with pro teams in Spain and Venezuela.
In Spain, in the late 1980s, he said he coached former Spurs great George Gervin for TDK Manresa.
In 2004, Melendez served as an assistant coach for the Puerto Rican team that defeated the Tim Duncan-led U.S. squad at the Athens Olympics.
Jackson knows him more on a personal level, as the man who put up the basketball court behind his Bayamon home.
It became a haven where Jackson and his older brother, Jalen, would play for hours on end as kids.
Later, both brothers moved to the Dallas area to live with their father, Leroy Jackson, a Panamanian who played in the early 1990s at Oregon State.
Signing with UTSA
Jhivvan Jackson, a 6-foot combo guard, enjoyed a standout four-year career at Euless Trinity High School through 2017.
After a single recruiting visit, he signed with UTSA coach Steve Henson in early signing period at the start of his senior season.
“He just said he knew it’s where he wanted to be,” said his mother, Yanira Melendez.
By the next summer, Jackson reported to summer workouts at UTSA., ready to go to work.
Now, about halfway through his first season with the Roadrunners, he has notched two 30-point games and six others in the 20s, all while shooting 42.6 percent from the field and 36.7 percent from three-point range.
Henson said he is surprised with his young combo-guard’s efficiency.
“Big scorers (from high school) usually come in and struggle with their percentages,” Henson said. “They find a way to get it in the hole. But it takes more shots to do it. With Jhivvan, he’s hanging in there at a very high level.”
Jackson, who plays off the bench, said he didn’t know he was the No. 7 freshman scorer in the NCAA.
“It really just comes down to how much my teammates and my coaches trust me with the ball and give me the right to make plays” he said. “They trust me to do that.
“That’s really what I’m doing. Trying to win as many games as possible for this team. Just, making the right play and making everyone better.”
UTSA has lost two in a row, including a 79-76 setback at home Thursday night against Florida International.
Jackson likely won’t let it get him down for too long.
Weathering the storm
After all, he comes from a basketball family that knows how to fight through adversity.
Last fall, his brother and his grandfather braved the hurricane in Bayamon by wading into thigh-deep water in front of the house to unclog debris from the sewer drains in the road.
“They both had to be tied together with ropes so that the current wouldn’t get ‘em,” Jackson said. “The current (in the water), the wind, it was bad.”
How did they know to take such action?
“Just years of experience,” Jackson said, matter of factly. “There’s a lot of hurricanes that come through Puerto Rico.”
Only recently has electrical power been restored at his grandfather’s home after one of the most intense storms in history.
“In the center of the island, they probably won’t get power for six months,” Jackson said. “Maybe a year. It’s crazy.”
Asked if the delay in service makes him mad, he said it does.
“Of course, but you always got to believe in the man on top,” the UTSA freshman said. “(God), he got us. He looking over us. All we can do is pray and hope things get better. That’s how things are now.
“Things are getting better in Puerto Rico, and I’m happy for that. People are starting to get power, most people.”
Jhivvan Jackson hits a step-back three against FIU