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Veteran DuCharme helps newest Aggies to adjust

Modou Niang shoots between Gary Wilkinson, left, and Jaycee Carroll at the USU blue-white scrimmage Friday in Logan.
Modou Niang shoots between Gary Wilkinson, left, and Jaycee Carroll at the USU blue-white scrimmage Friday in Logan.
Tom Smart, Deseret Morning News

LOGAN — At this time last year, Stephen DuCharme's head was spinning.

He was making the adjustment to Division I basketball with new coaches and new teammates, while knowing full well the expectations to carry on the success of Utah State basketball.

Now DuCharme is one of a handful of veterans returning from last year's team and he's taking it upon himself to help the eight newcomers who don't know Aggie basketball to adjust.

"I know what they are going through. Last year I didn't know what I was doing," he said. "We only have four guys that are coming back that have touched the floor and that's not really good. We've got to get them going early with the offense. Coach (Stew) Morrill's offense is hard to get going at first ... Us seniors need to help out."

Gone to graduation are Durrall Peterson, Chris Session and Chaz Spicer, while Mikel Watson, Arvydas Vaitiekus, Aaron England, O.J. Harrison and Michael Earl left for various reasons.

Newcomer Gary Wilkinson, who was a junior college all-American at Salt Lake Community College, is grateful for the early help because he is finding himself in a similar situation to DuCharme.

"The team chemistry has been great. It's been something that has helped me adjust a lot better," he said. "The seniors and the older guys have really helped me learn the system because there is a lot to learn."

Tai Wesley and Matt Formisano were with the team two years ago before serving LDS Church missions, and Brayden Bell sat out last year after transferring from Ohio State. Of the eight "new" faces, five are freshmen (Brad Brown, Pooh Williams, Tyler Newbold, Jaxon Myaer and Modou Niang) and the others (Wilkinson, Desmond Stephens and DeUndrae Spraggins) are junior-college transfers.

Less than a month into formal practices, Utah State all-American Jaycee Carroll can see the team together on and off the floor.

"This team, we're real good friends," he said. "Last year we all got along pretty good, but this year's team we hang out together, a little bit more fun messing with each other."

The public got its first look at the 2007 Aggies Friday night in two 10-minute sessions at the Smith Spectrum. The team played two earlier sessions before the public was let into the arena.

In the sessions, Carroll poured in 36 points on 15-of-18 shooting, including 6-of-8 from the three-point line.

Wilkinson added 18 points, Wesley scored 16 points, while Bell added 13 and Spraggins finished with 10.

Stephens and Kris Clark, one of the four returners, had eight assists each, while Spraggins added five.

The Aggies open exhibition play Halloween night when they host EA Sports. Following another exhibition game with Laval University on Nov. 3, the Aggies will open the season at home Nov. 9 with Southern Utah, and then hit the road the following night at Weber State.