As talented and mature as senior Tamir Jackson may be, he won’t be able to carry an inexperienced Rice men’s basketball team alone.
That one reason the Owls coaching staff are expecting big things in the 2012-2013 season from Julian DeBose.
“Julian’s improvement during the year was probably as significant as anyone on the team,” said Rice coach Ben Braun during Conference USA Media Day. “He held down a starting position at the end of the year. He’s got a tremendous work ethic and attitude.”
A 6-4 sophomore guard out of St. John College High in Washington D.C., DeBose averaged 3.7 points and 1.5 rebounds last season. He had 29 steals, 26 assists and four blocks in 34 games. Those numbers are OK, but usually not the statistics of the second-leading returning scorer and rebounder.
That’s what DeBose has become because of the staggering amount of players who transferred from Rice since the end of last season. The team has lost Omar Oraby to USC, Arsalan Kazemi to Oregon, Dylan Ennis to Villanova, David Chadwick to Valparaiso and Jarelle Reischel to Rhode Island. Ahmad Ibrahim decided to turn professional and play overseas.
The Owls now have just 10 players on the roster, only four of which suited up for the team last season. That’s another reason DeBose will be counted on for much more of everything during his second year as an Owl.
“He’s capable of scoring and he’s a good defensive player, but just as important is his ability to affect his teammates,” Braun said. “He’s a guy the underclassman look up to. He and Tamir are our most experienced returning players. It’s important those guys give back to the team in not only productivity, but leadership.”
DeBose started eight games during his freshman campaign, including all three of the Owls games in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament.
To this point, DeBose may be best known for hitting a game-winning jumper with .2 seconds left to give Rice a 77-75 win over UTEP Feb. 1.
He scored a career-high 13 against Louisiana College along with grabbing 7 rebounds. He scored 10 points and had a career-high four steals in the Owls’ CIT road win at Louisiana-Lafayette. He then had four more steals in Rice’s next CIT game against Drake.
“He’s someone who doesn’t get rattled,” Braun said. “He’s an unselfish player, but this year we are going to ask him to be a little more selfish and more aggressive at the basket.”
The Owls open the season Nov.10 at home against the University of St. Thomas.