Mountain West Basketball 2019: Way-Too-Early Preview
A way-too-early preview of the 2018-19 Mountain West basketball season
Nevada leads the way-too-early 2018-19 Mountain West rankings
Now that a final decision has been made regarding Gonzaga and each of the head coaching vacancies have been filled, it’s finally time to start digging into way-too-early previews for the 2018-19 Mountain West basketball season.
Our rankings, which include roster changes and short previews, are below. Recruiting rankings are shown for notable freshmen and are courtesy of 24/7 Sports.
11) San Jose State Spartans
2017-18 season/postseason: 4-26 (1-17)
Notable returnees: Oumar Barry, Noah Baumann, Ashtin Chastain, Nai Carlisle
Impact additions: Michael Steadman (JUCO transfer), Craig LeCesne (Pepperdine transfer)
Key losses: Ryan Welage, Keith Fisher III, Jaycee Hillsman, Jalen James
Preview: San Jose State suffers mass exodus after its top three scorers opted to transfer out of the program. Jean Prioleau has work to do in his sophomore year as SJSU head coach, hoping to make the most of a thin roster that has only been thinned out even more since the end of the season. The Spartans don’t return any players that scored more than six points per game from a team that ranked 328th in adjusted offensive efficiency. The main addition to the 2019 roster is Michael Steadman, a 6-10 JUCO big man who also had offers Albany, Howard and UC Santa Barbara.
10) Air Force Falcons
2017-18 season/postseason: 12-19 (6-12)
Notable returnees: Lavelle Scottie, Ryan Swan-Ford, Pervis Louder
Impact additions: Charlie O’Briant
Key losses: Trevor Lyons, Ryan Manning, Jacob Van
Preview: Head coach Dave Pilipovich continues to field competitive teams despite arguably the toughest job in America. Losing Trevor Lyons to graduation hurts as much off the court as it does on it, but the return of Lavelle Scottie and Ryan Swan-Ford will provide a formidable double-digit nightly scoring duo. The Academy will do what it usually does – remain a tough out at home, struggle on the road, and lurk towards the bottom of the Mountain West standings.
9) Wyoming Cowboys
2017-18 season/postseason: 20-13 (10-8)
Notable returnees: Cody Kelley, Hunter Maldonado, Ny Redding, Jordan Naughton
Impact additions: Hunter Thompson (redshirt)
Draft decisions: Justin James
Key losses: Hayden Dalton, Alan Herndon, Lou Adams, Alex Aka Gorski
Preview: Wyoming says goodbye to four of its top five scorers from last year as star Justin James ponders his NBA Draft decision. Regardless of James’ choice, the Cowboys are set for a major rebuild in year three of the Allen Edwards era. Wyoming has been active in the the transfer market, but has yet to land a much-needed body for next season. If James leaves, Wyoming’s leading returning scorer is Hunter Maldonado, who averaged 5.3 points per game in 2018. Redshirt freshman Hunter Thompson, who was rated a four-star recruit by ESPN, will be an immediate impact if he’s fully recovered from ankle surgery.
8) Utah State Aggies
2017-18 season/postseason: 17-17 (8-10)
Notable returnees: Sam Merrill, Dwayne Brown, Jr., Quinn Taylor, Diogo Brito, Daron Henson, Norbert Janicek
Impact additions: none
Key losses: Koby McEwen, DeAngelo Isby, Julion Pearre, Alexis Dargenton
Preview: Utah State, much like Wyoming, will look to push the reset button again with the losses of Koby McEwen, DeAngelo Isby and Julion Pearre. Sam Merrill, the conference’s best shooter, returns along with a handful of sizable forwards. Norbert Janicek is coming off foot surgery but should be available by the start of the season. Brock Miller and Crew Ainge provide some depth in the Aggie backcourt. Craig Smith has more than enough work cut out for him in his first season in Logan, but there are enough pieces to keep Utah State relatively interesting.
7) Colorado State Rams
2017-18 season/postseason: 11-21 (4-14)
Notable returnees: Prentiss Nixon, Nico Carvacho, J.D. Paige, Deion James, Raquan Mitchell
Impact additions: Hyron Edwards (Texas Tech transfer), Alonzo Tyson (redshirt)
Key losses: Che Bob, Kris Martin
Preview: Larry Eustachy is out and former Drake and Furman head coach Niko Medved is in after a tumultuous 2018 season in Fort Collins. Medved spent six seasons with Colorado State as an assistant under Tim Miles and Larry Eustachy. He’ll look to retain as much of the 2018 roster as possible while adding Texas Tech transfer Hyron Edwards and redshirt JUCO transfer Zo Tyson. Colorado State’s roster, on paper, is formidable as long as Nico Carvacho decides to hang around. If he does, knowing Medved’s ability to spark stagnant programs, CSU could contend for a top six finish in the Mountain West next season.