When Tony Benford looked back on his first season at North Texas, he saw two areas where the Mean Green needed to improve — shooting and the ability of individual players to create for their teammates.
Benford felt like he took one final step toward addressing both concerns on Tuesday when former Ole Miss guard Maurice Aniefiok enrolled at UNT and became the last addition to the Mean Green’s 2013-14 roster.
The 6-foot-5 former Huntington (W.Va.) Prep standout spent one year with the Rebels in 2011-12 season, when he averaged 1.4 points a game.
Aniefiok left Ole Miss and enrolled at Collin County Community College last season but did not play. He will have three years of eligibility remaining with UNT beginning this fall. Aniefiok completed his two-year degree at Marshalltown Community College in Iowa.
“He’s a great addition,” Benford said. “We recruited him a little while I was at Marquette. He is a good all-around player who can play the one [point guard] through the four [power forward] because he has good size. He can really shoot the ball and create for himself and his teammates.”
Aniefiok had one of his best games with Ole Miss in a 96-66 loss to Marquette on Nov. 20, 2011, in the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where he scored 10 points. Befnord was a Marquette assistant at the time.
It was Aniefiok‘s all-around talent that first attracted Benford’s attention during his high school career at Huntington. Aniefiok averaged 13.7 points and 6.6 rebounds a game while shooting 41 percent from 3-point range as a senior in the 2010-11 season.
The addition of Aniefiok fills out UNT’s roster and completes a dramatic overhaul of the Mean Green’s lineup since the end of last season.
UNT has added seven players, including four who have previous Division I experience. UNT has signed Cincinnati transfer Kelvin Gaines, George Mason transfer Vertrail Vaughns and Colin Voss, a Northern Oklahoma transfer who began his career at Central Michigan, in addition to Aniefiok.
Gaines and Voss are expected to make an immediate impact in the front court, while Vaughns can play both the point guard and shooting guard spots.
While Aniefiok can play just about anywhere but center, he is expected to make his biggest contribution on the wing for the Mean Green.
UNT also signed Texas high school products Josh Friar and Greg Wesley, a pair of forwards, and junior college transfer forward Armani Flannagan in its 2013 recruiting class.
“We will be bigger, faster and more athletic,” Benford said. “We will have two or three guys on the floor at all times who can shoot the 3.”
UNT struggled from beyond the 3-point arc last season, shooting 28.5 percent, a mark that ranked 336th nationally.
Benford believes the players he added in the offseason will help UNT address those problems. Aniefiok struggled from the 3-point line at Ole Miss, shooting 21.9 percent in limited action, but Benford believes he will improve at UNT.
“This is a totally different roster,” Benford said. “We have more experience on this roster than the team we had last year. These guys have all played at the Division I level.”
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 or via Twitter at @brettvito