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More expected of TU's Etou this season

University of Tulsa forward Junior Etou returns as the team's leading scorer and rebounder this season. (KTUL)

"We will need Junior Etou to be that alpha male for us," said University of Tulsa men's basketball head coach Frank Haith during the team's annual media day Wednesday inside the Reynolds Center.

It's an interesting statement considering senior forward Junior Etou was Tulsa's leading scorer and rebounder last season. But to get this team to the next level, it'll take more of what won't be seen on a stat sheet.

"It's all about confidence in what you're doing," Haith expained. "I've seen it in him. I don't know if it was in his 'D.N.A.' last year. I've seen him have a little bit of that instinct to want to score, to want to be that guy this year."

Apparently that confidence has come with a better comfort level being around Etou's teammates. Etou is from the Congo. And not being a native speaker here can be a little intimidating.

"At first I wasn't really comfortable talking," Etou admitted. "English is not my first language. I was kind of that shy guy who really didn't say much."

"You had to really get after him to talk," said teammate Sterling Taplin. "But now, he's like open and he'll talk. He's like the loudest one. He's hilarious too."

When asked if it has made practices more productive, Taplin replied, "Yeah, it makes it easier for people to understand what we want do as a team."

And it's showing in how Junior plays. So don't be surprised if you see some new things from senior Junior Etou this season; like dunking.

"He didn't have one dunk last year," said Haith. "As big as he is, not one dunk. He's dunking the ball like crazy now."

"He's right," acknowledged Etou. "I didn't have any dunks last year. It was all layups and three's. But I worked harder this summer."

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