SAN LUIS OBISPO – Forty days ahead of the program's Wednesday, Nov. 7 season-opening matchup, the Cal Poly men's basketball team begins preparations for the 2018-19 campaign with its first official practice on Friday, Sept. 28.
The Mustangs, who finished seventh among 351 NCAA Division I programs last season with a 78.0 percent free throw mark, return three starters and six letterwinners from last year's squad.
Cal Poly's returning unit is comprised of 5-10 senior guard Donovan Fields (above), 6-10 junior forward Hank Hollingsworth and 6-5 sophomore wing Mark Crowe. An All-Big West honorable mention selection last season after finishing third among Division I players with a program-record 92.6 (75-for-81) percent free throw mark, Fields was also second in Cal Poly's lineup with 13.0 points per game. A starter in 30 of 31 games last season, Fields recorded 21 double-digit scoring games and finished third among Big West players with 4.1 assists per night. He enters his final season as the top free throw shooter in program history at 89.6 percent and needs just 248 more points to become the 24th player in program history to score at least 1,000 in a career. In the post, Hollingsworth finished 76th among Division I players last season with 1.68 blocks per game. A 63.1 percent shooter last year, Hollingsworth ranks fourth in program history with 81 blocks and requires just 56 more to set a new record. Crowe, meanwhile, made 15 starts in his first season last year.
Cal Poly's remaining returning letterwinners include 6-7 senior forward Kuba Niziol, 6-4 senior guard Marcellus Garrick and 6-9 sophomore forward Karlis Garoza. Niziol, who scored in double digits eight times last year, finished fifth in Cal Poly's lineup with 7.2 points per game. Garrick added a further six double-digit scoring games to finish behind Niziol at 6.5 points per contest. Garoza made 20 reserve appearances in his first season for Cal Poly last year.
Making his debut in Cal Poly's lineup will be 5-10 freshman guard Jared Rice, who redshirted during his first season on campus last year.
During the offseason, Cal Poly added 6-4 junior guard Job Alexander as a transfer from two-year Trinidad State (Trinidad, Colo.) and signed to National Letters of Intent 6-10 forward Tuuka Jaakkola (Helsinki, Finland / Helsinki Basketball Academy), 6-7 forward Daxton Carr (Pocatello, Idaho / Highland HS) and 6-3 guard Junior Ballard (Stockton, Calif. / Modesto Christian School). The program also added 6-6 freshman forward Kyle Colvin (San Luis Obispo, Calif. / Mission Prep HS) and 6-3 freshman guard Colin McCarthy (Redwood City, Calif. / Serra HS).
Also joining Cal Poly's lineup in the offseason as Division I transfers are 6-0 junior point guard Keith Smith (VMI) and 6-7 junior forward Nolan Taylor (Pepperdine), both of whom will redshirt the upcoming year.
Mustang fans will enjoy their first competitive look at the 2018-19 Cal Poly squad when the program hosts its annual Green vs. Gold intrasquad matchup, dunk contest, three-point competition and alumni game on Saturday, Oct. 13. Action gets underway at 1 p.m. inside Mott Athletics Center.
Cal Poly then opens its 25th season of Division I action when hosting Menlo College on Wednesday, Nov. 7 before visiting nationally-ranked Arizona on Sunday, Nov. 11 on Pac-12 Networks.