When Boise State star shooting forward Anthony Drmic went out last season, the collective hearts of the Bronco faithful sank. The loss of Drmic meant more playing time for others on the team, and it meant someone would have to step up.
Enter forward James Webb III, who made the most of the opportunity, and became another star in the process. Webb III averaged 11.2 points and 8.0 rebounds a game in helping Boise State win the Mountain West Conference championship in the regular season. After a disappointing loss to Wyoming in the conference postseason tournament, Boise State received an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament, but lost 56-55 to Dayton in a play-in game.
After the season, Webb III earned Second Team All-Mountain West Conference and was chosen Newcomer of the Year in a vote by the league's coaches.
In June, Webb III was selected to participate in the Nike Basketball Academy in Santa Monica, California, where James learned on and off the court from some of the National Basketball Association's biggest stars, including LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Anthony Davis, James Harden, DeMarcus Cousins and Trey Burke. This fall, Webb III will be able to take the things he learned from those basketball greats and apply them to his game. One of the biggest things he learned, James said, was "having confidence in your game and knowing what you can do, and not worrying about the defender. Just go out and play your game and focus on what you can do and do it to your best."
Webb III knows that with the accomplishments of last season, he'll be getting plenty of attention from the opposition. "I have a lot more eyes on me," he said. "Everybody's seeing what I do and how I approach every day." But James also knows that priority #1 is getting the Broncos to heights the program has never achieved, such as advancing deep in the NCAA Tournament. "I try to keep all that [the individual attention' to the side and not focus on it," Webb III said. "We still have a mission. We're trying to win the Mountain West again. That's our goal."
Guard James Reid, a walk-on transfer from Arkansas-Little Rock who played junior college at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls, said James is "very talented". "He does some things that there's not a lot of guys out there can do, which is why he's as touted as he is," Reid said. "One thing about him is he's humble. He doesn't come out here arrogant--he treats all his teammates the right way and long-term, thats what's going to determine his success."
The Broncos have been practicing for just a few weeks now, and James said that with several new faces, the team is working hard and finding themselves as a team. "It's a lot of development going on--everybody's still figuring out what they can do and what they can't do. We're just trying to put the pieces together."
One of the new additions to the team is Lonnie Jackson, a graduate student transfer from Boston College. Jackson made 55 starts in four years for the Golden Eagles before having his senior season cut short by injury. After obtaining his degree in communications, Jackson transferred to Boise State and is eligible this season. "He's a flat-out shooter," Webb said, "Another Drmic."
Boise State opens their 2015-16 campaign with an exhibition game against Northwest University of Washington Friday night in Taco Bell Arena. Tipoff is 8 p.m.