Opening night of the 2022-23 season was fun, wasn’t it? The WAC got a Power 6 upset. All three regular season co-champs started off the new season with a win. Tarleton did what Tarleton does. And the preseason favorite to win the WAC showed some heart in a big time comeback win.
There were some disappointments, though. CBU losing by double digits at home. Utah Valley struggling to find any offensive rhythm at Utah State. UTRGV coming out really flat. And so forth.
Along those lines, there were some really, really good individual performances on opening night.
And just a disclaimer: this list contains players who played against other Division I opponents on opening night. Not trying to take away from what New Mexico State guard Deshawndre Washington did. Or what SFA guard Day Day Hall did in each of their wins. But it was against non-Division I competition. So, I just wanted to make that clear.
Here are some of the best.
1 – Cam Tyson, Seattle U
After taking the WAC by storm by hitting 105 3-pointers in 2021-22, Tyson started off right where he left off. In Seattle U’s win at UC San Diego, Tyson hit seven 3-pointers, was 12-18 from the field and had a career-high 35 points in the season opener. Did I mention Tyson also had eight rebounds in the 14-point road win?
— Seattle U Men's Basketball (@seattleumbb) November 8, 2022
2 – Tevian Jones, Southern Utah
Playing on the road is always tough. Going into The Pit is even more tough. But, the newcomers to the WAC went to Albuquerque and held their own. A big reason for that was the performance of Tevian Jones. The 6-7 senior guard was 10-19 from the field, knocked down six 3-pointers in a 28-point night. Jones also pulled down five boards in the 89-81 loss.
Yep, he's still cooking 👨🍳
— SUU Men's Basketball (@SUUBasketball) November 8, 2022
3 – Lamar Wilkerson, Sam Houston
There was a time in its season opener that Sam Houston was o-fer from the 3-point line. In fact, the Bearkats did not hit their first 3-pointer until the 14:04 mark of the second half. And it was Wilkerson who opened up the bucket. That was the first of his five 3-pointers that helped Sam Houston overcome a double digit lead to knock off Oklahoma in dramatic fashion. Wilkerson was 6-10 from the field and 5-6 from 3-point land in his Bearkats debut. And he hit the biggest shot of the season through three days.
— Sam Houston Men's Basketball (@BearkatsMBB) November 8, 2022
4 – Riley Battin, California Baptist
The 2022-23 season opener at the CBU Events Center did not go as the Lancers had planned. And while the shooting performance wasn’t great, Battin still had a big night for the Lancers. 16 points and 13 rebounds in 34 minutes in his first game as a Lancer. The Utah transfer will have to be more efficient from the field going forward. But, Battin is going to be a player in this league.
— California Baptist Men's Basketball (@CBUmbb) November 8, 2022
5 – Jovan Blacksher Jr., Grand Canyon
17-point deficit. 25 percent shooting in the first half. 3-13 from deep in the first half. Yes, it was an ugly first half for the Lopes in the season opener against Montana State. But, sometimes the halftime break is exactly what is needed. Blacksher Jr. scored 12 of his team-high 18 points in the second half to help GCU earn the comeback win at GCU Arena. Perhaps the biggest shot of the game came with 24 seconds remaining. GCU led 55-52 and had the ball out of bounds on the baseline. Blacksher was throwing the ball into play, found Noah Baumann for the inbounds pass. Blacksher then came off a Gabe McGlothan screen and calmly put the nail in the coffin with the corner 3-pointer.
Nuna says GOODNIGHT. 👋 pic.twitter.com/e0qUQXKGtF
— Grand Canyon Men’s Basketball (@GCU_MBB) November 8, 2022
6 – Tobias Cameron, Abilene Christian
With the departure of Coryon Mason and Mahki Morris, someone has to fill the scoring void at ACU. On Monday night in a 65-56 win over Jackson State, senior guard Tobias Cameron filled that role rather well. Cameron was 5-8 from the field, knocked down four 3-pointers and had a team-high 18 points. Along with the points, Cameron also had six rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal in 34 minutes.
— ACU Men’s Basketball (@ACU_MBB) November 8, 2022
7 – Maizen Fausett, Southern Utah
Left-handers are a dime a dozen. And because I am left-handed, I am a little biased in saying I love watching them play the game of basketball. Well, Southern Utah has one of the best in the league in veteran Maizen Fausett. And in the season opener at The Pit, Fausett was the only other T-Bird in double figures with teammate Tevian Jones. The Eagle Mountain, Utah native had a 13-point, 12-rebound double double and also had four assists, two blocks and a steal in the 89-81 loss.
Back 2️⃣ back buckets by Maizen trim the lead to only four ‼️
— SUU Men's Basketball (@SUUBasketball) November 8, 2022
8 – Aziz Bandaogo, Utah Valley
I am really disappointed that Utah State did not give Utah Valley the codes to get clips from the broadcast. Because, there are some dunks by Utah Valley’s newest big man that were, for lack of a better word, AMAZING. In his first game as a Wolverines, Bandaogo had 17 points, six rebounds, two assists and two blocks. A 7-footer with length and crazy athleticism, Bandaogo is going to be a problem for teams. Did I mention that Utah Valley hit just three 3-pointers in the loss at Utah State? Well, Bandaogo hit two of those.
9 – Jakorie Smith, Tarleton
Tarleton’s 6-6 JUCO transfer did all he could to will the Texans to an upset win on Monday night. Smith had 16 points and seven rebounds for the Texans in 27 minutes. And it was Smith who had the ball in his hands late in the game for the Texans. Unfortunately, an offensive rebound put-back wouldn’t go while getting fouled. And Smith was just 2-4 from the FT line down the stretch. Smith also had two assists, a block and a steal in the 62-59 loss. All in all, it was a solid performance in the season opener.
The bounce pass was perfection 🤌 pic.twitter.com/rBLDq6MQ2p
— Tarleton Men's Basketball (@TarletonMBB) November 8, 2022
10 – Adonte’ Holiman, UTRGV
We will put a freshman on this list. Holiman was one of the bright spots on opening night in an otherwise ugly game for the Vaqueros. The freshman from McAlester, Oklahoma had 13 points, was 3-5 from the field, hit his lone 3-pointer and got to the free throw line 10 times. All in 20 minutes. Holiman was the only other Vaquero in double figures alongside Justin Johnson. Keep an eye on this 4-star recruit as his role will increase as the 2022-23 season progresses.
Adante’ Holiman notched 13 points in his collegiate debut on 3-5 from the floor and 10 FT attempts. Persistent aggression & penetration really opened opportunities for him last night against Kansas State. Should continue to push the envelope in those areas moving forward. pic.twitter.com/TKa5U4TAVV
— Ian Mumm (@FiveOnFiveHoops) November 8, 2022