The Idaho menâ€™s basketball team is fortunate because program essentially returns four of its five starting members for the 2016-2017 season.
However, the team will look to fill the role left behind by senior transfer guard Chris Sarbaugh, who helped propel the squad through a seven-game stretch of conference play after sophomore Victor Sanders and junior Perrion Callandret were benched with injuries.
After earning the No. 3 seed in the Big Sky postseason tournament last season, the program will look to build upon the experience of its roster to provide another strong showing against conference opponents next year.
Perrion Callandret â€“ Point Guard
Despite suffering a lingering foot injury midway through the season, the junior guard finished as the teamâ€™s second leading scorer. The 6-foot-2-inch guard was responsible for 101 rebounds and 351 points in 25 games for the Vandals last season. As a senior, Callandret will need to provide a leadership role for Idahoâ€™s young talent.
Victor Sanders â€“ Guard
The sophomore was the surprise of the Big Sky Conference last season, as he immediately burst onto the scene and provided a spark for the Vandal offense. Sanders finished as the teamâ€™s leading scorer and averaged 15.9 points per game for Idaho last year. The sophomore guardâ€™s hot hand from behind the arc often proved to be a deciding factor in the closing minutes of many conference matchups. Fans should expect even bigger numbers from Sanders next year as an early candidate for the Big Sky Player of the Year award.
Chad Sherwood â€“ GuardÂ
After multiple injuries devastated the Vandal starting roster, the sophomore stepped up in a big way for the program. Sherwood shot 42.2 percent from 3-point range as a starter in 13 games for Idaho. The sophomore provided 59 assists and finished the season as the teamâ€™s third leading scorer. Although the Vandals possess a multitude of talented guards, Sherwoodâ€™s pivotal performance on the hardwood has established the sophomore as the frontrunner for the third guard position.
Arkadiy Mkrtychyan â€“ Forward
During the preseason, Mkrtychyan was touted as one of the prominent forwards in the Big Sky Conference. However, the sophomore had difficulty recovering from a knee operation and spent the majority of the winter readjusting to the physicality of the game. Despite this setback, Mkrtychyan was able to provide several strong performances down the stretch in key matchups for the Vandals. The sophomore finished the season with 227 points and 117 rebounds, showcasing his abilities despite the injury.
Ty Egbert â€“ Forward
The final roster spot will prove to be a tough decision for Idaho head coach Don Verlin, as both junior forward Ty Egbert and redshirt power forward Nate Sherwood have shown promise within the teamâ€™s system. Due to Sherwoodâ€™s relative inexperience on the court, I assume Verlin will likely go with Egbert. The junior walk-on exceeded expectations last year, averaging 6.6 points per game and shooting 55.4 percent from the field. The ability of Egbert to step up in key situations and provide a physical presence down low for the Vandals will pay off during the grueling stretch of the teamâ€™s schedule against Big Sky opponents.