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Weber State opens season against NAIA foe

Published: Friday, Nov. 9 2012 10:00 a.m. MST

OGDEN — Weber State officially begins its post-Damian Lillard men's basketball era tonight when the Wildcats take on Arizona Christian, a private NAIA school, in their regular-season opener at the Dee Events Center.

Lillard, who left school a year early to follow his NBA dream and was subsequently selected by Portland with the sixth pick in last June's annual draft, is well on his way to a stellar professional career as a rookie point guard with the Trail Blazers. But he left behind a solid group of players who will try to follow up on Weber State's strong 25-7 showing last season. The Wildcats whipped Western State (Colo.) in their only exhibition game of the season, 82-56, on Monday night.

Weber State returns two starters and five other lettermen from last year's team which went 16-0 at home and reached the second round of the collegeinsider.com postseason tournament. Leading the way is senior guard Scott Bamforth, who was an All-Big Sky second team selection last season after starting in 31 games and averaging 14.5 points per game. He shot 44 percent from the field, including 40 percent from 3-point range, and 88 percent from the foul line. He received All-Big Sky first team honors and was named Big Sky Newcomer of the Year during the 2010-11 season.

The Wildcats' other returning full-time starter is 6-foot-10 junior center Kyle Tresnak, who started all 32 games last season and averaged 10 points and 3.8 rebounds per game while shooting 54 percent from the field.

Other top returnees include:

— Frank "Mook" Otis, a 6-6 senior forward who started seven games but played in just 12 in all before being sidelined by knee injuries. He averaged 5.2 points and 3.8 rebounds per game while shooting a team-best 69 percent from the field.

— Byron Fulton, a 6-7 junior forward who played in all 32 games and averaged 7.2 points and 4.3 rebounds a game, shooting 45 percent from the field and 43 percent from 3-point range. In the 2010-11 season, he was named Big Sky Freshman of the Year. He'll be sidelined for 1-2 weeks after recently having his right knee scoped.

— Jordan Richardson, a 6-1 junior guard who played in all 32 games, averaging 4.2 points and 2.1 assists per game. He has started 14 of 64 games in his WSU career.

— James Hajek, a 6-10 sophomore center who appeared in 15 games before suffering a season-ending knee injury. He averaged 3.4 points and 2.1 rebounds a game while shooting 53 percent from the field and 87 percent from the foul line.

— Gelaun Wheelwright, a 6-1 sophomore guard, played in 26 games last season as a true freshman and averaged 5.6 points and 2.1 rebounds a game. He scored 19 points in WSU's final game of the season at Loyola Marymount.

The team's top newcomers are 6-5 junior Davion Berry, who had 15 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals in Monday's exhibition win over Western State, in which five Wildcats scored in double figures, and 6-9 freshman Joel Bolomoboy.

Historically, Weber State is 41-9 in season-opening games, including a 30-3 mark all-time at home.

email: rhollis@deseretnews.com

Wildcats on the air

Arizona Christian at Weber State

Tonight, 7 p.m..

Dee Events Center, Ogden

TV: None Radio: 106.9 FM

Wildcats on the air

Arizona Christian at Weber State

Tonight, 7 p.m..

Dee Events Center, Ogden

TV: None Radio: 106.9 FM

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