The Scorer's Table: An Early Look at the 2013-14 MW Men's Basketball Season
June 18, 2013
This is the seventh in a series of MW men's basketball blogs detailing developments involving the league's hoops programs since the conclusion of the 2012-13 season. We continue today with San Diego State.
San Diego State Aztecs
Last Season's Record: 23-11, 9-7 MW (T4th)
Key Losses: G Jamaal Franklin; G Chase Tapley; G James Rahon; F DeShawn Stephens.
Key Returners: F Skylar Spencer; G Xavier Thames; F Dwayne Polee II; F Winston Shepard; F JJ O'Brien.
2013-14 Signees: F Angelo Chol; F Josh Davis; G/F Dakari Allen; G D'Erryl Williams.
Sizing Up The Recruits: Davis, a 6-8 transfer from Tulane whose physique and approach to the game has been likened to that of former SDSU standout and current San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, is eligible to play immediately and will have one year of eligibility remaining. Davis, who began his career began at North Carolina State, averaged a team-best 17.6 points and 10.6 rebounds for Tulane last season. As a junior last year, he pulled down 374 rebounds in 35 games. He also led the team in blocked shots and shot 49.2 percent from the floor while posting 19 double-doubles. The Aztecs also landed 6-9 forward Angelo Chol, who spent the past two seasons at Arizona. Chol, a former San Diego prep standout, will sit out the 2013-14 per NCAA transfer rules and be eligible in 2014-15 as a junior. Aside from the two transfers, however, SDSU notched its own double-double of sorts when it signed the 6-5 Allen and the 6-6 Williams, teammates from Sheldon High in Sacramento. Both earned second-team all-state honors last season. Allen, who averaged 19.0 points, is considered a four-star recruit and the 12th-best player in California by ESPN, which ranks Williams the state's 25th-best player.
Overview: San Diego State is coming off a school-record fourth straight appearance in the NCAA tournament, where it advanced past the second round for the second time in three seasons. Last year, the Aztecs posted their eighth-consecutive season of 20 or more wins and also earned a postseason berth for the eighth straight year. Replacing Franklin and Tapley, however, will be no small feat. Franklin, who elected to forgo his senior season to enter the NBA Draft, leaves after leading the Aztecs in scoring and rebounding the last two years. The 2011-12 MW Player of the Year, Franklin last season was the only Division I player in the nation to lead his team in scoring (17.0), rebounding (9.5), assists (3.3) and steals average (1.6). Meanwhile, Tapley, a full-time starter each of the last three seasons, averaged 13.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.4 steals in his final campaign. His scoring, assists, steals and free-throw percentage (80.0) ranked second on the team. The Aztecs found out just how crucial Thames was to their success last season when he missed four league games with a lower back strain. But the junior point guard still managed to contribute 9.3 points and 2.3 assists per game. O'Brien started every contest but one, averaging 7.2 points and 4.5 rebounds, the second-highest total on the squad. Shepard, the most highly-decorated recruit in SDSU history, averaged 5.4 points and 3.5 rebounds as a freshman last season, while Spencer set an SDSU and MW freshman record with 51 blocked shots.
Changes At The Top: Justin Hutson, a former SDSU assistant who spent the past two seasons as associate head coach at UNLV, rejoined head coach Steve Fisher's staff in April. During Hutson's previous stint with the Aztecs (2006-11), SDSU won 20 or more games every season. During the latter part of his time with the program, Hutson assumed the role of defensive coordinator and helped SDSU lead the league in scoring defense in 2009, 2010 and 2011. He also played a pivotal part in SDSU's recruiting efforts, including the school's 2009-10 class, which featured Leonard, a 2011 NBA first-round draft pick. Prior to his decision to return to SDSU, Hutson helped lead UNLV to a pair of 25-plus win seasons and two NCAA Tournament appearances.