UTEP Basketball Head Coach Rodney Terry announced the signings of two guards from the state of Texas on Thursday.
Jesse Zarzuela, a 6-foot-3 playmaker from Houston who can play all guard positions, and Brendan Wenzel, a 6-foot-6 sharpshooter from San Antonio, Texas, will join the Miners for the 2019-20 season, while adding more size at the guard position.
“Both players help us fill needs we wanted to address in our 2019 class,” Terry said. “Both players bring great size at the guard and wing positions for us at 6-6 [Wenzel] and 6-3 [Zarzuela]. We have had great success with big guards traditionally and like the versatility that it brings to our program on both sides of the ball. Both Brendan and Jesse also bring a great feel for the game, along with three-point shooting ability, which is an integral part of today’s game. Both young men have a desire to be coached, a blue-collar approach to the game, along with a passion to improve and get better, which we look for. As a coach, I love working with young men who love the game, these two love the game, no doubt. Both players have had nothing handed to them, they’ve rolled up their sleeves and earned everything they have gotten to this point.”
Zarzuela will play at the point guard position for the Miners. He earned District Co-MVP honors after averaging over 17 points per game, four rebounds per contest, three assists per game and two steals per contest as a junior at Spring Woods High School in Houston, coached by Joe Gibson. Zarzuela played for AAU basketball team Stackz Elite, coached by Curtis Scipio. Zarzuela opened his senior campaign with a 29-point, eight-assist performance against Sam Houston High School.
“Jesse Zarzuela has the ability, work ethic, toughness and competitive make up that give him a chance to be a very good player at the college level,” Terry said. “Like many young players who make the transition to college, there is a learning curve adjusting to the collegiate game.
But Zarzuela possess a lot of those characteristics needed to be very successful in today’s college game. We loved what we saw in Jesse because of his ability to play with the ball in his hands as a playmaker in addition to his ability to play off the ball as a scorer and shot maker. Jesse has an ability to score at all three levels. He can shoot it from 3 with range, is a very good passer, has good size as a bigger guard at 6-3, and has a natural feel for the game. We are thrilled to add a player of Jesse’s ability to our program.”
Wenzel will add size at the guard position. He connected on over 40 percent of his three-pointers during his junior season at O’Connor High School in San Antonio, Texas, coached by Brett Jewasko. Wenzel was named All-District first team after his explosive second season on the varsity squad.
Wenzel played for AAU basketball team HD Toros, coached by Louis Martinez. Wenzel poured in 37 points after firing on 12 three-point shots with the Toros during a summer league game.
“Brendan is a special talent because he has great size for his position at 6-6 playing the wing,” Terry said. “He has the size and athleticism to defend and rebound at his position, a high IQ for the game, and he possess an elite ability to shoot the basketball. Brendan is a proven worker and his work ethic has helped him go from being a virtually unknown unranked player, to being recognized as a Top 15-20 player in the state of Texas. He is arguably the best shooter in the 2019 class in Texas. We are ecstatic to have Brendan as a part of our program.”
“We’re really excited to add both these young men to our program today. Not only are they both very talented, but more important than that, they are high-character young men who come from outstanding families and have a proven track record of winning both on and off the court,” Terry said.
“Both of them have been terrific students in the classroom during their high school careers and they both come from winning programs as well. Both Brendan and Jesse were guys we identified as top priorities in recruiting this summer, and today we are thrilled to have them officially joining our basketball family here at UTEP.”
Jesse Zarzuela | 6-3, 175 | SG, PG | Houston, Texas | Spring Woods HS
JUNIOR (2017-18): Named Co-MVP in District 15-6A … honored as TABC All-Region Class 6A Region 1 … ranked fifth in Houston by RCSSports.com … averaged 17.6 points per game, 4.1 rebounds per game, 2.7 assists per game and 1.7 steals (50) per game … shot 44 percent (158-357) and scored in double-digit figures in 26 of 29 games … won tournament MVP at the Byron Johnston Holiday Classic in Midland after scoring a season-high 27 points on 9-of-14 shooting, including 5-for-9 from beyond the arc, and tallied a trio of steals during a 66-59 win over Odessa … followed that performance with a double-double, scoring 25 points, pulling down 10 rebounds, adding two steals and a block in a victory against Midland … registered 26 points during a two-point (69-67) triumph against San Angelo Central … recorded season-high seven assists versus West Brook … dished out six dimes with 19 points and seven rebounds in a win against Fort Bend Hightower … opened junior season with an 18-point effort with five rebounds, six assists and three steals … scored 20 points with four rebounds, four assists and four steals during a 67-60 win against Pearland … scored 22 point with four rebounds in a 60-57 victory against Cypress Ranch.
Brendan Wenzel | 6-6, 180 | SG | San Antonio, Texas | O’Connor HS
2017-18 (JUNIOR): Sharp shooter who made big strides from his sophomore season to junior, averaging 20.1 points per game in 29 games overall (23.3 ppg in district play) … ranked 18th in the state according to TexasHoops.com … named All-District 28-6A first team … averaged 5.0 rebounds per game with two assists and two steals per game … shot 51 percent (201-395) from the field, including 70-for-173 (40.5 percent) from three-point range … connected on 85 percent from the charity stripe (111-131) … recorded double-digit figures in scoring in 25 games, including six 30-point performances … went for a season-high 33 points on 11-of-16 shooting, including a 6-for-9 performance from beyond the arc against Holmes … prior to the 33-point outburst, scored 32 points and ripped down season-high 12 rebounds against Warren … scored 31 points on 12-of-20 shooting (4-8 three-point) with seven rebounds and three assist in a 67-56 win against Jay … followed that performance with a 30-point effort against Stevens … produced another 31 points against rival Brandeis … scored 30 points versus Brennan.