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SEASON PREVIEW: Wolverines look to rise back to top of WHAC

SEASON PREVIEW: Wolverines look to rise back to top of WHAC

DEARBORN, Mich. – The University of Michigan-Dearborn men's basketball team is set to open the sixth season under Head Coach Taylor Langley against Grace Christian University at 1 pm Saturday at the UM-Dearborn Fieldhouse.

The Wolverines look to return to the top of the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference after an up-and-down season a year ago. UM-Dearborn opened last season 2-10 overall with an extremely difficult schedule playing a part in the early-season setbacks. UM-Dearborn rebounded in conference play to earn a third consecutive bid to the WHAC Postseason Tournament, closing the campaign 11-20 overall and 8-12 in league play.

Langley will look to his senior class of Cody Kegley, Donovan Farrell and Jared Jackson to lead a young core in 2019-20.

"I have a senior class filled with hard-working and gritty kids," Langley said. "They have been offering great leadership and setting the standard for our culture. If the rest of our team takes on their hustle and toughness-first persona, then I think this team has a chance to be one of the best we have had at UM-Dearborn."

Kegley, a former All-WHAC performer, returns for his final season with the Wolverines after averaging 10.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game a year ago. He was second on the team with 48 made 3-point field goals.

Farrell returns after taking a redshirt a year ago. He averaged 4.1 points and three rebounds per game in the 2017-18 WHAC Tournament Championship season for the Wolverines. Jackson played an expanded role for UM-Dearborn a year ago and will look to contribute on a larger scale in his final season.

Other key returners for the Wolverines, include 2018-19 WHAC All-Freshman Team member Zach Lattimer, who quickly made an impact on the UM-Dearborn offense with his proficient outside shooting. The sophomore led the team with 81 made 3-pointers, averaging 10.4 points per game in his first season.

Junior Jason Gigliotti will be counted on in the middle for the Wolverines after averaging 12.1 points and a team-high 8.1 rebounds per game a year ago. With 27 starts in 31 games at the point guard spot for UM-Dearborn last season, junior Jalen Paul will look to continue to his strong play after recording a team-high 4.4 assists per game and a 2.4 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Other key returners for the Wolverines include Ontario Burnett, Mathew Mignault and Reid Sellers, who will all look to make an impact in 2019-20.

"I always have the same goal for every team and that is for them to play at their full potential," Langley said. "Those teams are commonly referred to as 'overachievers.' There is no greater compliment I can get about my team than they overachieved and that is how I judge this group's success."

Newcomers in 2019-20 that will provide immediate playing time include forward Damian Forrest from Fort Collins, Colo., who Langley said reminds him of former UM-Dearborn All-American Jason Penn. Langley also expects to see contributions from redshirt freshman Spencer Robinson, as well as transfers Elwood Tomlinson, RoShon Brown and Justin Parker.

After the opener against Grace Christian, the Wolverines will play their next six on the road, including two games in the Caribbean against the University of the Virgin Islands Nov. 1-2. UM-Dearborn has two exhibitions on the schedule with trips to NCAA Division I opponents Central Michigan University on Nov. 5 and Eastern Michigan University on Nov. 14.

The WHAC season opens at home against Aquinas College on Nov. 20, while Senior Day is scheduled against the University of Northwestern Ohio on Feb. 15.