Top 3 men’s basketball standouts to watch this season

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Top 3 men’s basketball standouts to watch this season

TONI FORTMANN

TONI FORTMANN

TONI FORTMANN

JACOB POTTER, Sports Editor

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With another UNI men’s basketball season underway, the Panthers return 10 players with experience including A.J. Green, Spencer Haldeman and Austin Phyfe, who all will look to lead the Purple and Gold this season.

A.J. Green

The Cedar Falls native leads UNI in his second season as the starting point guard with a work ethic to match his talent.

“‘What’s this guy doing, is that something that I can add to my game?’” Jacobson said about Green’s mentality.  “He’s always asking that question of himself, ‘What can I do to get better?’”

After averaging 15.1 points as a true freshman, Green has a bright future leading his hometown team.

“Next year, I’m going to say, ‘Look, he’s quite a bit better than he was last year,’” Jacobson said.  “That’s just the type of young guy that he is […] Our guys understand how hard he works at it.  They understand that he’s our best player and they understand that he needs to be involved in the leadership of our team.”

Spencer Haldeman

Stating alongside Green in the backcourt is the three-point marksman Spencer Haldeman.

“He’s somebody with no fear,  if you will,” Jacobson said.  “The kind of confidence that it takes to be a really good scorer at this level, he’s got that.”

Haldeman shot over 36 percent from three last season and has high goals for the team this year.

“The sky’s the limit for this team,” Haldeman said.  “I think after last year making the championship, we weren’t expected to going into the tournament, but towards the end of the tournament we all believed in what we could do.  That’s kind of led into this year, too, with believing that we can get there again and get it done this time.”

Austin Phyfe

Perhaps the biggest difference for the Panthers is the return of a vital piece in 6-foot-9 forward Austin Phyfe after a season-ending illness last year.

“Having a guy we can throw the ball to on the block where when you go down and help, now you’ve got a little bit farther to go to get back [to shooters],” Jacobson said.

Phyfe, a Waverly native, found success in his first game back with 10 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks.

“I’m feeling great,” Phyfe said.  “Being back out there is the best feeling in the world.”

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