The Scorer's Table: An Early Look at the 2013-14 MW Men's Basketball Season
June 19, 2013
This is the eighth in a series of Mountain West men's basketball blogs detailing developments surrounding the league's current and future hoops programs since the conclusion of the 2012-13 season. We continue today with San Jose State, who will officially join the MW on July 1, 2013.
San Jose State Spartans
Last Season's Record: 9-20, 3-14 WAC (T8th)
Key Losses: G James Kinney; G LaVanne Pennington.
Key Returners: G D.J. Brown; F Chris Cunningham.
2013-14 Signees: G Jalen James; G Rashad Muhammad; G Isaac Thornton; F Brandon Mitchell; C Matt Pollard; G Devante Wilson
Sizing Up The Recruits: James, a 6-3 guard who played his final two seasons of high school basketball at La Lumiere School in La Porte, Ind., helped his team to a ranking of No. 20 in last season's ESPN 25 Power Rankings. All of La Lumiere's six losses came against nationally-ranked teams. Muhammad, a 6-5 shooting guard from Bishop Gorman High in Las Vegas and the younger brother of former UCLA standout Shabazz Muhammad, averaged 19.0 points per game last season for a team that was ranked No. 15 nationally by ESPN and USA Today and won back-to-back Division I state titles. Muhammad also averaged 4.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists. The 6-3 Thornton arrives from Sam Houston High in San Antonio, Texas, where he was a three-year starter. A 2013 All-State selection by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches, Thornton averaged 17.5 points and 7.3 rebounds as a senior. Mitchell, a 6-5 forward from Ridgeway High in Memphis, Tenn., helped his team to a ranking of No. 4 in the state last season and was a participant in the annual Basketball Coaches of Tennessee All-Star game in March. Pollard is a 6-11 center from Kashmere High in Houston, who spent the past year at a prep school in Raleigh, N.C. Wilson, a 6-4 guard from Lee College in Baytown, Texas, averaged 10.0 points per game last season while helping his team to its first berth in the National Junior College Athletic Association tournament. Wilson prepped at Muskogee High in Muskogee, Okla., where he averaged 17.6 points and 8.5 rebounds his senior year.
Overview: The Spartans, who will start anew under former Boise State associate head coach Dave Wojcik, are looking for their first winning season since 2010-11. San Jose State had more than its share of offensive struggles in 2012-13, finishing last in the WAC in scoring offense, three-point field goal percentage and scoring margin (-6.8). The Spartans return two of their top scorers from a year ago in Cunningham (10.7 ppg) and Brown (9.2), with Cunningham having also ranked second in the conference in rebounding (9.0 rpg). He ranked first in the WAC in offensive rebounds per game (3.5), second in the conference in free-throw percentage (.799) and third in defensive rebounds per game (5.5). But Wojcik has his work cut out for him. Six players from last year's squad have either transferred or left the program, three of whom would have been entering their senior season.
Changes at the top: Wojcik, who was tabbed to replace former head coach George Nessman in March, was part of a Boise State program that received an at-large bid to last season's NCAA tournament after recording its second 20-win season in three years and posting its fourth-highest regular-season win total in school history. Early last month, Wojcik named Chris Brazelton, Jack Kennedy and Omar Lowery to serve as his assistant coaches. Brazelton was most recently an assistant at Missouri Valley Conference member Drake, while Kennedy comes to San Jose State after spending the past five seasons as an assistant at the University of San Francisco. Lowery spent the past four seasons as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Cal Poly following three seasons at Texas State.