Brian Olmo | Sports Director
After a sensational 2022-23 campaign, sophomore guard Denver Jones announced on March 20 that he plans to enter the transfer portal, effectively leaving FIU basketball.
The 6-4 guard finished the season as FIU’s leading scorer and the second-highest scorer in Conference USA, averaging 20.1 points per game on 47.8% shooting from the field. Jones also averages 1.8 steals per game, good for seventh-most in the conference.
Jones became the first Panther in program history to be named to the All-C-USA First Team. His 539 points in the 2022-23 season rank fifth all-time in single-season points for FIU.
In what is likely his last game as a Panther, Jones put up 25 points on 4-7 shooting from deep in FIU’s first-round matchup against the LA Tech Bulldogs.
His efforts pushed the game to overtime, but it wasn’t enough to give the Panthers the win as the team fell 81-76.
The question that remains now is where is Jones going to end up?
Jones has already set four in-home visits with Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
Other programs rumored to have interest in the 3-level scorer’s skillset include Auburn, Miami, Florida State, Georgia and LSU.
Football commenced its spring training on March 21, giving fans and media a glimpse into a newly constructed Panthers team.
Last season marked Mike MacIntyre’s first season as head coach. FIU finished with a 4-8 overall record and ended on a four-game losing streak.
In addition to the 80 returning players, the Panthers added 27 new faces to the roster from the 2023 signing class. Among them are 15 incoming freshmen and 11 transfers.
The team has made some notable coaching hires in the offseason, primary among them being the acquisition of Zac Roper as assistant coach. Roper had previously been the offensive coordinator at Duke.
Joshua Eargle was elevated from Panthers’ tight end coach to Deputy head coach and will supervise the offensive line. Anthony Gaitor, who had a brief career in the NFL with multiple teams, has been promoted to assistant coach and will preside over the outside linebackers.
Practice will take place every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday until April 20 at the FIU Football practice fields. The 2023 FIU Football Spring Showcase will be on April 22 at 6:30 p.m.
Baseball dropped their game to No. 19 Florida Gulf Coast on March 22 at the FIU Baseball Stadium, losing 12-5.
The Eagles wasted no time taking an early lead, scoring three runs in the first inning off a two-run double by senior Alejandro Figueroa and a sacrifice fly by junior Edrick Felix.
Not wanting the Panthers to take the lead, FGCU got to work burying FIU. Sophomore Harrison Povey and junior Jacob Lojewski started the run, turning bats into shovels as they each hit two solo home runs to extend the lead to 5-2.
Redshirt senior Mike Rosario trimmed the Eagles’ lead 5-3 with a single, but it was only a drop in the bucket.
FGCU took over in the seventh and eighth innings, scoring seven combined runs. The Eagles’ run ended with a bang, as senior Alejandro Figueredo cracked a three-run home run.
The Panthers managed to score two more runs in the bottom of the ninth before they eventually fell, 12-5.
Softball was swept in their three-game series against the UAB Blazers from March 25-27 at Mary Bowers Field in Birmingham, Alabama.
The first game of the series was a tight back-and-forth battle that was decided in extra innings.
At the top of the ninth, FIU had bases loaded and no outs but failed to capitalize. Freshman Olivia Valbak delivered an RBI single in the ninth to give UAB the walk-off win 4-3.
Games 2 and 3 both ended with the Panthers being shut out.
In the second game, FIU managed to score one run in the third inning on an RBI single from freshman Isabella Perez. Outside of that, the Panthers failed to get anything going and fell 3-1.
Valbak and junior Sierra Frazier earned the win for UAB. Valbak limited the Panthers to three hits and a run, while Frazier hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the first to score all of the Blazers’ points.
The third game started with a pitching stalemate, with neither team being able to make any progress. The Panthers finally drew first blood, taking the lead 1-0 in the third inning with Perez recording her 20th RBI of the season.
FIU would hold onto this lead for five innings, until a pair of home runs in the sixth, courtesy of Frazier and sophomore Lindsey Smith, put the Blazers ahead and sealed the deal, 3-1.
The Panthers end the week with a 15-18 overall record and 2-7 conference record.
Follow Brian Olmo on Twitter at @Brian_Olmo11