Roadrunners’ talent level comes into sharper focus after roster release

Sky Wicks. UTSA defeated Incarnate Word (UIW) 90-80 in a non-conference men's basketball game at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Guard-forward Sky Wicks is now a member of the UTSA Roadrunners after playing last season for the University of the Incarnate Word. – File photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Plenty of questions loom for UTSA men’s basketball as the program moves into the summer months armed with a new coaching staff and an almost completely revamped roster.

Perhaps the most important question being, can this team win? Can it have a winning season? Can it make a run in tournament play next March?

When first-year UTSA coach Austin Claunch met the media on Tuesday, he lauded assistants Nick Bowman, Joey Brooks, Trevor DeLoach and Joseph Jones for their work over the past three months in assembling a 13-player roster, including a 12-player signing class.

“I love this class,” Claunch said. “We’ve got size. We’ve got shooting. We’ve got athleticism.”

The Roadrunners will not be as big on the front line as last year, when they finished 11-21 for their third consecutive 20-loss season under the previous coaching staff.

Austin Claunch was introduced at the new UTSA head men's basketball coach at a public news conference on Thursday, April 11, 2024. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA coach Austin Claunch says he’s looking forward to hosting full-roster workouts in coming weeks. – File photo by Joe Alexander

But they could present problems for opponents with size, skill and experience in the backcourt and on the wings, particularly with the likes of Primo Spears, Tai’Reon Joseph, Damari Monsanto and Sky Wicks, all of them double-digit scoring threats.

UTSA also promises to showcase some versatility and big-game experience on the wing with guard-forward Raekwon Horton, who has played in the NCAA tournament in each of the last two seasons.

All of those players potentially could pose matchup problems for Roadrunners’ opponents in the American Athletic Conference.

If there is a weakness in Claunch’s first roster, it might be found in a lack of size at the post positions, where AAC title contenders will likely trot out 7-footers and other assorted big men who will weigh in the 260-pound range or more.

UTSA will not have that type of athlete, at least not this season.

JaQuan Scott (6-8, 230) and Jonnivius Smith (6-9, 200) apparently will see a lot of time in the post, along with 6-7 Jesus Carralero Martin and 6-10 David Hermes.

“JaQuan and Jo are incredibly athletic,” Claunch said. “They can switch and guard every position. They can stretch the floor with their shooting. JaQuan can really score inside. Jo is probably our best rim protector and then David … he can really stretch the floor. He can really pass. He’s an incredible offensive player.”

Martin, who plays at 6-7 and 225, is another versatile talent.

“He can play make on the perimeter,” Claunch said. “When you’ve got shooting and speed like we do, I think him being able to initiate offense is important.”

Claunch said he’ll look to add a “true five,” or center, for the 2025-26 season. “But, to be honest,” he added, “I just think we got really lucky to add those four.”

UTSA roster

Zach Gonsoulin, 6-1 G Hometown: Houston, formerly of TCU
David Hermes, 6-10 F-C Hometown: Stockholm, Sweden, Indian Hills CC
Raekwon Horton, 6-6 F/G Hometown: Santee, S.C., formerly James Madison
Tai’Reon Joseph, 6-3 SG Hometown: Baton Rouge, La., formerly of Southern University
Paul Lewis, 6-2 CG Hometown: Woodbridge, Va., formerly of Vanderbilt
Marcus Millender, 5-11 PG Hometown: Houston, formerly of South Alabama
Jesus Carralero Martin, 6-7 F/C Hometown: Malaga, Spain, formerly of Missouri
Damari Monsanto, 6-6 SG Hometown: Pembroke Pines, Fla., formerly of Wake Forest
Jaquan Scott, 6-8 F/C Hometown: Dallas, formerly of Mississippi State
Jonnivius Smith, 6-9 F/C Hometown: Selma, Ala., formerly of Buffalo
Primo Spears, 6-3 CG Hometown: Hartford, Conn., formerly of Florida State
Skylar Wicks, 6-6 G/F Hometown: Jersey City, N.J., formerly of Incarnate Word
Nazar Mahmoud, 6-4 G Hometown: Leander, UTSA returning player

Riding the wings

UTSA’s backcourt and wing players are expected to be the team’s strength as the Roadrunners enter their second season in the AAC.

Primo Spears, Tai’Reon Joseph, Damari Monsanto and Sky Wicks all bring credentials as explosive scorers. Raekwon Horton will come in with a long wingspan, defensive prowess and big-game experience. Paul Lewis and Marcus Millender can both handle the ball.

So, who plays where?

Asked to talk about his point guard group, Claunch mentioned several players. He started with Spears, Millender, Lewis and Joseph. Likely 6-foot-1 Zach Gonsoulin is also part of this group, as well. In terms of ball handling, the coach also said he can see Horton taking on some of the load.

He described the South Carolina native as an athlete who can push it after clearing the defensive glass. And, what about the shooting guards/small forwards?

Again, the coach sees multiple options. Spears and Joseph both apparently can play off the ball. Nazar Mahmoud, who played a limited role with the Roadrunners last year, likely is a true two, or, shooting guard. As for two-guard types who can also play the three, or the small forward, that would likely include Monsanto, Wicks and Horton.

It’ll be worth watching during the preseason workouts to see if Horton, who reached the NCAA tournament with the College of Charleston in 2023 and with James Madison in 2024, can also play the four position, as well.

A comeback kid

Florida native and Wake Forest transfer Damari Monsanto comes to UTSA with solid credentials at the highest levels of NCAA Division I, despite two serious injuries in three seasons with the Demon Deacons.

In his first year at Wake in 2021-22, the transfer from East Tennessee State suffered a torn Achilles. After battling through rehabilitation, he emerged the following year in as one of the best shooters in the ACC, averaging 13.3 points for the season and 14.8 in conference.

He hit six or more treys in five games, once in non-conference competition and four times in the ACC. He rained a season-high eight threes from distance in a 28-point performance against Notre Dame. It was one of his six 20-plus point outbursts of the season.

Monsanto couldn’t finish the season healthy, as he went down again, this time with a knee (patella tendon) injury in February 2023. He returned to the court for the Demon Deacons in January 2024 and finished his three-year FSU career in a limited role.

In 11 games last spring, he averaged 5.1 points. Claunch is extremely high on Monsanto, who was the 12th and final commitment in UTSA’s class.

“People say that he might be the best shooter in the country,” the coach said. “I mean, he’s (almost) 6-8, with incredible range. He shot a super-high percentage in college every year. Forty one percent at Wake two years ago. Played extended minutes. So we’re really excited about him.”

The UTSA roster lists Monsanto at 6-6 and 225 pounds

“He’s still got some work to do, getting back in shape,” Claunch said. “We’re going to throw him in the fire (in workouts). But we’re going to be cautious at the same time.”


Primo Spears, who has played at Georgetown in the Big East and most recently at Florida State in the Atlantic Coast Conference, might be the most accomplished scorer in UTSA’s signing class.

Two years ago at Georgetown, the 6-3 combo guard who grew up in Connecticut led the Hoyas in scoring at 16 ppg, once scoring 37 on the Xavier Musketeers. Last year at FSU, he averaged 10.6 and dropped 17 on the North Carolina Tar Heels in the ACC tournament.

Sky Wicks had a big night playing against UTSA at the Convocation Center last season. He led the University of the Incarnate Word Cardinals with 24 points and 11 rebounds. He also had five assists and four steals in a 90-80 loss to the Roadrunners.

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