Like its Southwest Conference neighbor, this league sees better basketball each year as interest increases all over the area. The Border's intersectional record still leaves much to be desired, but it is bound to improve. Champion ARIZONA STATE doesn't appear to have much chance to repeat, having lost seven of its eight best players. There is fair height and speed in the few veterans and sophomore candidates, and two transfer students, Paul Howard and Paul Denham, show promise. Coach Ned Wulk, in his first season last year, was able to fire up a losing squad at mid-season and keep it going the rest of the way, but he has much less to work with this time. The squad includes Al Nealey, Ed Olson, John Bowen, Troy Neal, Carroll Holly, Bill Pryor and Richard Jarvis. Likeliest successor to Tempe's title is NEW MEXICO A&M, well stocked with talented veterans, some tall upcoming sophomores and a few transfer students. A starting five will probably be built around 6-foot-8 sophomore Bill Price in the pivot, and will be made up of hot-shooting Charlie Clark and veterans selected from among Roy Clymer, Jim Davis, Jim Oliver, Presley Askew Jr. (volatile Coach Askew's son) and Lee Bowen. Sophomore Bobby Kelly will also see much action. TEXAS WESTERN still has Charlie Brown, nucleus for a good team anywhere, and he has considerable support this year in veterans Jack and Don Burgess and Jon Sanders. The fifth starter probably will be John Corcoran or Hans Fields, with Jerry Gilley, Bobby Knight and Don Martin slated for service as reserves. Coach George McCarty also gets some needed height in transfer student Don Vollintine. He has a better squad than the one that lost four of its conference games by a total of only 10 points last year. HARDIN-SIMMONS will again field the league's tallest first five, principally because of its high-scoring, strong boardmen, Carl Knight (6 feet 8) and Doyle Edmiston (6 feet 7). Sharing the other starting roles are Joe Arden, Bob Groom, Sam Condo and Mel Cunningham, with Art Travis, Ronnie Ensey, Milton Martin and Paul Hinds in reserve. This is an all-veteran squad and should move up in the standings if it gets some better shooting in the guard positions. WEST TEXAS STATE seems able to move up at least one notch in the standings, on the strength of good size and shooting in two returning regulars, Milt Fitts and Jim Farren, and two veterans who have seen a lot of service, Jim Reid and Max Miller. The fifth starter may be sophomore Keith Blair, and reserves include Gene King, Aubrey Perry, Tom Sims and Huey Bartlett. There is not too much depth here, but plenty of speed and experience. Ernie McCray and Dick Mower are back at ARIZONA, and Coach Fred Enke will rebuild around them. The rest of a starting five will come from among veteran reserves Louis Hopkins, Mike Schleibaum and Larry Ewald and sophomore Andy Leichty. The bench includes Wayne Burk, Miles Zeller and Jim Seal. Inexperience is the major drawback here, good speed and shooting the assets.
Two Negro schools, Texas Southern and Grambling, which play in this area but do not enjoy major-college rating, are included in this report because of the high quality of their teams, their excellent records and the number of graduates who have done well as pros. As these reports were in preparation, TEXAS SOUTHERN'S coach, Edward Adams, whose record of 643 games won and only 153 lost is one of the most remarkable ever compiled, died of a cerebral hemorrhage. He leaves to his yet-to-be-chosen successor a fine squad of veterans, led by high-scoring hook shooter Wellie Taylor, Robert Bobbitt (two excellent pro prospects), Freddie Maura, Wilbert Mosby and Percy McDaniels and including a raft of seasoned reserves and promising newcomers. The sophomores are Leslie Coleman, William Clark, Howard Montgomery, Ellis Appling and Charles Moore. This bunch is capable of improving on last year's fine 29-5 mark and winning Texas Southern's ninth Southwestern Athletic Conference title in 10 years. GRAMBLING, which joins the conference this season, was 27-4 last year, and practically all of that team is back again. They scored more than 100 points in nine games last season and have a lot of power on the boards. The top veterans include James Hooper, only 5 feet 10 but a 25-point-average scorer, Jerry Barr, Jimmy Duplantier and Howard Willis. Leading reserves are Earnest Ladd, Robert Morrison, Allen Isles, Charles Love and Rex Tippit. Sophomores who will make the squad include Charles Hardnett, Mike Dikins, William Douglas and Roy Johnson. Like Texas Southern, this is a fast-breaking and high-percentage-shooting outfit. Coach Frederick Hobdy hopes to end the Texans' long supremacy in the conference.
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