PASADENA, Calif. (Nov. 6, 2015) – Fresh off its most successful season in five decades, the Caltech men's basketball team is set to open 2015-16 with an exhibition game at NCAA Division I University of San Diego on Saturday, Nov. 7 at 6 p.m.
The Beavers return three starters and six others from the 2014-15 squad, in addition to the three freshmen joining the team. Senior Kc Emezie (Waxhaw, N.C. / Marvin Ridge) led Caltech with 13.8 points per game on 49.2 percent shooting from the field, 37.8 percent on three-pointers and 81.0 percent from the free-throw line while adding 3.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.6 blocks per game. Junior Nasser Al-Rayes (Doha, Qatar / American School of Doha) led the SCIAC in blocks per game (2.2) along with averaging 8.4 points and 5.4 rebounds in just 25.3 minutes per game. Juniors Ricky Galliani (Menlo Park, Calif. / Sacred Heart Prep), David LeBaron (San Diego, Calif. / Francis Parker) and Lawrence Lee (Hong Kong / Hong Kong International School) each averaged 16-24 minutes per game, ranging from 4.0-6.0 points, 2.5-3.2 rebounds and 0.9-1.0 assists per game.
Caltech won three SCIAC games for the first time since the 1960-61 season, equaling the program's total conference wins over the previous 43 years while setting numerous individual and team records, including points in an NCAA game (Lee – 38), blocks in a season (Al-Rayes – 53) and both team rebounds (886) and blocks (96) in a season.
USD is led by first-year coach Lamont Smith, a '99 Toreros alum who has spent the past 15 years as an assistant coach at the University of New Mexico (2013-14), the University of Washington (2012-13), Arizona State University (2008-12), Santa Clara University (2007-08) and Saint Mary's College (2001-07) after beginning his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Saint Louis University (1991-2001).
The Toreros lost over 55 percent of their scoring from the 2014-15 squad with the departures of all-time leading scorer and two-time All-WCC First Team guard Johnny Dee, all-time assists and steals leader Christopher Anderson and third-leading scorer Thomas Jacobs, in addition to the graduated Simi Fajemisin and redshirt junior Chris Sarbaugh. The return of senior center Jito Kok – one of the nation's top shot blockers – along with senior wing Duda Sanadze and sophomore guard Vasa Pusica – last year's fourth- and fifth-leading scorers – combined with an impressive first-year crop of recruits has USD poised to better its WCC Preseason Poll selection of ninth. Three-star freshman guard Tyler Williams headlines a group that includes fellow Texans Olin Carter III, Hunter Summy and Ryan Woolridge as well as early signee Alex Floresca and Torrance native Christian Oshita.