ROSEMONT, Ill. — With last year’s starting point guard Kelsey Barlow graduated, UIC is looking for his replacement. Barlow leaves a big hole after leading the Flames in scoring and assists last year with 14.8 points and 3.9 dimes per game.
That starting point guard role is coming down to three players: junior college transfers D’Juan Miller and Paris Burns and Barlow’s former backup, Jay Parker. As of now, Miller is currently in the lead to land the starting spot, UIC head coach Howard Moore said.
“That’s been the most exciting position that we’ve been watching this summer and fall,” Moore said. “All three of those guys have the abilities to run our program to put people in positions to be successful, and also to be aggressive. Right now D’Juan is winning the battle, but nothing is set right now.”
Miller averaged 17.5 points, 4.8 assists and 2.5 steals last season at Eastern Arizona State.
He is small at just 5-8. But he has a 37-inch vertical jump, which allows him to do awesome things like this.
Miller’s sheer athleticism, quickness and speed is something UIC has lacked recently, and Moore called him “a bug defensively.” The coach also credited his ball handling skills, passing ability and unselfish style for why he is the frontrunner to start when the Flames open the season at DePaul Nov. 14.
Parker possesses some of the same skills when it comes to the defensive side of the ball. He also has some quickness and can be an absolute pest on the ball.
Burns, another newcomer, averaged 9.6 points and 3.6 dimes at Vincennes University. One thing that stands out on Burns’ résumé is his winning tradition. Vincennes advanced to the NJCAA Final Four and finished third last year. As a high school senior at Proviso East, his team was 32-0 before it ran in to Jabari Parker and Simeon in the Illinois 4A State Basketball Championship.
Although Barlow had the most pure talent of any UIC player last season, his style of play could be an issue for the Flames at times. He liked to shoot a lot. When he was hot, UIC could compete with much more talented teams. When he was not hot — which was much more often — his desire to shoot detracted from the Flames’ offense.
As a trio, Moore thinks this group of floor generals can not only match Barlow but actually be a boost.
“I know we’re going to have a huge upgrade there as a team because we have three pieces that can bring different things to the table and can also make us a better program,” Moore said.