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West Coast Countdown: Walters brings excitement back to the City

Nov. 10, 2008

Coming off of two head coaching changes in 2007-08, the University of San Francisco turned to Rex Walters to stabilize the Dons' program. The former Kansas star and NBA veteran served as head coach at Florida Atlantic University since 2006. Walters becomes the 12th men's basketball head coach in program history.

Walters, who played basketball at Independence High School in San Jose, will be looking to improve the Dons' 10-21 overall record and 5-9 conference mark from a season ago. The Dons, who finished fifth last season, were tabbed fifth in the 2008-09 WCC Preseason Coaches poll.

Walters should benefit from the return of six letterwinners, including three starters. Headlining the list of returners is junior forward Dior Lowhorn, a 2008 All-WCC first team member and a 2008-09 Preseason All-WCC selection. Led by Lowhorn, the Dons welcome back 61.7 percent of their scoring and 56.8 percent of its rebounding.

In addition to the six returners, the Dons' squad will welcome in six newcomers. Walters first recruiting class consists of four freshmen, one sophomore, and one junior. Despite having several fresh faces, USF should benefit from having eight upperclassmen on its roster.

2007-08 KEY STATS
Dior Lowhorn Junior
20.5 ppg, 7.4 rpg, .513 FG percent
Manny Quezada Senior
13.9 ppg, 4.6 apg, 3.5 rpg
Hyman Taylor Junior
3.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 26 blocks


Senior guard Manny Quezada teamed up with Dior Lowhorn to give the Dons the top scoring tandem in the WCC (34.4 ppg).

The Dons will look to senior guard Manny Quezada to provide leadership to a relatively inexperienced backcourt. Quezada, a 2008 All-WCC honorable mention selection, ranked seventh in the conference in scoring last season with 13.9 points per game, while finishing fourth in the WCC in assists (4.58 apg).

Junior guard Christian Hernandez is the other returning letterwinner to see significant playing time in the backcourt. Hernandez saw action in all 31 games last season, averaging 12.8 minutes per game.

Among the newcomers, 6-2 junior guard Dontae Bryant should see significant playing time at the point guard position. Bryant, a transfer from Eastern Arizona College, ranked seventh in the nation in assists among junior college players with 7.9 assists per game. In addition to Bryant, a trio of freshmen could see time in the backcourt in Chris O'Brien, Peter Smith, and Kwame Vaughn. O'Brien tossed in 12 points on a perfect 4-for-4 from the field in the Dons' exhibition win over Chico State.


Junior center Hyman Taylor provides the Dons with a solid defensive presence in the middle.

The Dons boast one of the best frontcourt players in the conference in Lowhorn. The 6-7 forward turned in a fantastic first season on the Hilltop, pacing the WCC in scoring with 20.5 points per game. Lowhorn was one of only seven players in the country in Division I to average over 20 points per game, at least 7.0 rebounds per game, while shooting over 50 percent from the field. Lowhorn teamed up with guard Quezada to give the Dons the highest scoring tandem in the league as the duo combined for a WCC-best 34.4 points per game.

Junior center Hyman Taylor gives the Dons a solid defensive presence in the middle. The 6-9 center blocked 26 shots last season to rank 10th in the WCC. Taylor combined with Lowhorn to give the Dons one of the top shot-blocking tandems in the league as they turned away a combined 54 shot attempts.

A familiar face will be joining the Dons in junior forward Blake Wallace. Wallace, a transfer from Irvine Valley College, played his freshman season at Pepperdine, seeing action in all 31 games for the Waves in 2006-07. Wallace averaged 4.7 ppg to go along with 2.1 rpg as a freshman with the Waves.

Freshman forward Angelo Caloiaro, a local product from Archbishop Mitty, and senior center James Morgan give the Dons additional depth in the frontcourt.