Head coach Brette Tanner and the Wildcats have re-loaded its roster bringing in seven new additions after a highly successful season in its first season in the Western Athletic Conference.
In head coach Brette Tanner’s first season, the Wildcats went 25-11 overall and 11-7 in WAC play. The focal point of ACU’s season was the WAC Championship appearance they made as the No. 6 seed before falling to the No. 1 seed New Mexico State Aggies 66-52.
Tanner’s team then moved onto the College Basketball Invitational, again as the No. 6 seed. The Wildcats won their first two rounds over No. 11 Troy and No. 3 Ohio before falling to No. 2 Middle Tennessee State 85-69 in the semifinals.
“Our major thing is to have a great season next year, and if that ends up in a conference title, that’s great, but if it doesn’t so be it,” Tanner said. “I’m very proud of the season we just had and we didn’t win a regular season or postseason title, but I think what we accomplished this past year was far beyond what anybody may have expected.”
With the season ending on Mar. 22 and several graduating seniors, Coach Tanner and his staff moved quickly to fill six spots on his roster ahead of their 2022-2023 campaign. Coming in for the Wildcats are
- Joe Pleasant: 6’7 forward, graduate transfer, former Wildcat who transferred to Wichita State last season
- Hunter-Jack Madden: 6’2 guard, sophomore, played for Coach Crass at Otero Junior College
- Ali Dibba: 6’4 wing, sophomore, Chicago State transfer
- Jai’Vion Seat: 6’3 guard, freshman, 2022 Oklahoma Gatorade Player of the Year
- Muodubem Muoneke: 6’5 wing, freshman, two-star rating on 247Sports, Tanner said he’s, “one of the highest rated players we’ve ever gotten.”
- Reese Miller: 6’3 guard, walk-on freshman, averaged over 20 points per game at Round Rock High School
- Colby Tanner: guard, walk-on redshirt freshman, student manager last season and is Coach Tanner’s son
“We added athleticism but more importantly, my goal with this class was to add size,” Tanner said. “When I talk about size I’m not talking about centers, we needed to add size on the perimeter. We needed to be able to take guys like Tobias and move him back to his natural position and Cam back. I think we’ve accomplished that, I hope.”
Leaving the Wildcats are senior guards Coryon Mason, Reggie Miller and Mahki Morris. Other Wildcats who decided to enter the transfer portal are
- Logan McLaughlin: 6’1 guard, sophomore, transferring to New Mexico Highlands University, a Div. II program
- Furaha Cadeux de Dieu: 6’8 forward, junior, transferring to the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith, a Div. II program
- Stevie Smith: 6’6 guard, junior, uncommitted
- Jameson Richardson: 6’8 forward, sophomore, transferring to Southeastern Oklahoma State, a Div. II school
“We’re starting to look more like a mid-major division one basketball team,” Tanner said. “Now whether we’re going to play like it remains to be seen, but we definitely will be bigger. You know, that was our major goal.”
In addition to the roster changes were a couple coaching changes as well with assistant coach Kyle Bankhead heading to the University of San Francisco in the same role. With his departure, Coach Tanner brought back former ACU assistant coach Ted Crass to fill the role. Crass spent the past two seasons at Otero Junior College where he went 39-12.
Tanner said he wanted to add another head coach to his staff and Crass said it was an easy decision to come back to Abilene. Coach Tanner and Coach Crass were communicating before the position was even open. As well, Coach Crass said that Coach Tanner was helping him with other Div. I jobs so that he didn’t get stuck at the JUCO level. Coach Crass said he loved his time at Otero but is looking forward to the future at ACU.
“I believe in Coach Tanner,” Crass said. “It’s not like I’m walking back into the same job. We got a new arena, I got a new head coach, a new athletic director, we have a brand new conference. It’s a new job. I spent four years of my life here so in a lot of ways it’s coming back home. The people that I care about and care about me are still here and I’m glad to be back.”
In addition to Coach Crass are Vince Walker, the new Director of Operations, and Damian De Santiago, the new Director of Strength and Conditioning. Walker comes from an assistant coaching role at Pittsburg State, a Div. II program. The Gorillas were 30-50 in that span. De Santiago comes from Texas Tech where he was the assistant strength and conditioning coach for the men’s program. The Red Raiders finished their season No. 12 in the country.
Several way-too-early WAC predictions for next year have the Wildcats finishing first in its second year in the WAC. Tanner said his goal for every season is to have a great season and compete for conference titles. Tanner said they came up short last year but expect to have another great season.
Another addition to next season is the newly renovated Moody Coliseum which is set to be open this coming August. After two years at the Teague Center where the Wildcats went 27-3, Tanner said he’s looking forward to the new facility.
“The two years in the Teague Center were awesome,” Tanner said. “I’ve taken memories out of that building to where now, every time I walk in that building, it’s going to be a completely different feeling to me than before. But we’re really excited about the new Moody and just starting kind of a new era of ACU basketball and our fans are going to love it and I know our players are going to love it.”
Preparations for next season will begin in mid-June with next season’s schedule yet to be released. Tanner’s second season at the helm is starting to come together with more updates to come.