Varsity Preview Tips Off Friday

Coach Steve Cleveland puts his 2002-03 team on display for the fans Friday at the annual Varsity Preview. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

PROVO -- Coach Steve Cleveland will showcase the 2002-03 BYU men's basketball team at the Varsity Preview Friday at 7 p.m. in the Marriott Center. Sponsored by the Cougar Club, the annual blue-white game will be emceed by KSL Radio's Greg Wrubell - "Voice of the Cougars."

The Varsity Preview will include a full 40-minute intrasquad game and a three-point shooting contest at halftime. The Varsity Preview is free to all season ticket holders with their ticket and BYU students with student ID. Youth groups can also attend the event free of admission. Local religious and community youth leaders can contact the Cougar Club to obtain the required passes for their youth groups (ages 12-18). General admission tickets for the Preview cost $2.

"We look forward to this event every year," BYU Cougar Club Executive Director Mike Middleton said. "This is a fun evening for many youth groups in our community; it also gives Cougar Club members and other Cougar fans the opportunity to meet the team."

With some talented new additions and more depth at nearly every position, this year's Cougar team has significantly more experience than last year's team and is poised to challenge for the Mountain West Conference title and its second NCAA tournament invite in the last three years.

Coach Cleveland will again rely on the talents of returning starters Travis Hansen, a second-team All-Mountain West Conference guard; Mark Bigelow, an honorable mention All-MWC forward; and center Jared Jensen, the MWC Co-Freshman of the Year. Hansen, the lone senior on the roster, returns as the team's leading scorer (15.6 ppg) and rebounder (6.2 rpg). Bigelow, the 1999 Western Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year, was the team's second-leading scorer (14.9 ppg), and Jensen showed great potential as a scorer in the post starting 25 of 30 games while averaging 8.6 points.

Junior combo guard Ricky Bower, a 6-foot-4 transfer from Wisconsin, and junior forward Jake Shoff, a 6-foot-9 transfer from Weber State, will get their chance to play after sitting out last season because of transfer rules. Bower is considered among the team's best shooters and is expected to play a significant role on the perimeter, while Shoff was Weber State's leading rebounder (6.0) as a sophomore.

Three highly regarded junior college transfers should have an impact on the perimeter and in the post. Rafael Araujo, a 6-foot-11, 265-pound center from Sao Paulo, Brazil, earned second-team NJCAA All-America honors at Arizona Western College last year. Point guard Kevin Woodberry led Dixie State College to the NJCAA national title, while Luiz Lemes, also from Sao Paulo, was a first-team NJCAA Region 2 combo guard from Eastern Oklahoma State College.

"We'll put the players through a game-length scrimmage, which gives the fans an opportunity to see the talent we have on the team this year," Cleveland said. "Afterward, the players will be signing autographs so the fans, especially many of the younger fans, have a chance to meet in person the fine young men on the team."

Mad Dog Cycles has donated a bike that a lucky BYU fan will win at the Preview. The 2002-03 BYU team poster will be distributed after the Preview. BYU players will remain after the event to sign autographs.