Mountain West Basketball Profile: Colorado State Rams
Colorado State aims to bounce back from last year’s tumultuous season
Niko Medved ushers in the first year of the post-Larry Eustachy era in Fort Collins
Next up in our preseason team profiles is Colorado State, one of three Mountain West teams guided by a new head coach this season. Niko Medved, formerly of Drake and Furman, looks to spark a Ram program that is eagerly searching for a turnaround.
Projected Starting Lineup
- G, Anthony Masinton-Bonner, Jr., 6-2, 170
- G, J.D. Paige, Sr., 6-3, 166
- G, Kris Martin, Jr., 6-6, 180
- F, Deion James, 6-8, 215
- C, Nico Carvacho, Sr., 6-11, 240
Player To Watch
First-year head coach Niko Medved will lean on junior big man Nico Carvacho early and often in ’18-19. The 6’11”, 240-pound center started in each of Colorado State’s 32 games last season, leading the conference in rebounding at 10.3 boards a game while adding 9.2 points per game. Carvacho pondered the idea of transferring out of the program in the spring, but opted to return to Fort Collins to resume his Ram career. The Chilean is widely anticipated to average a double-double this season and could sneak his way onto the conference’s accolade list at the end of the year.
A noteworthy piece that was missing from last year’s on-court production was Zo Tyson, a talented JUCO transfer. Tyson received a medical redshirt after suffering a season-ending injury during Colorado State’s summer tour in the Bahamas. As a sophomore at Cape Fear C.C., Tyson averaged 14.0 points and 8.4 rebounds per game and converted 65.2 percent of his field goal attempts. Assuming Carvacho and Deion James maintain the starting forward positions and Tyson is healthy, the former High Point commit could be in the mix for the league’s sixth man of the year award.
Nevada isn’t the only team in the Mountain West aided by the help of transfer newcomers this season. Colorado State picked up Kris Martin, an ex-Oral Roberts Golden Eagle, to shore up the offense. Martin immediately becomes CSU’s best bucket-getter, averaging nearly 14 points a night in 2016-17. At 269th nationally in three-point percentage, Niko Medved’s team will gladly welcome the 6-6 guard who knocked down 40.6 percent of his attempts from downtown as a sophomore. Martin also recorded 36 steals in his final 27 games in an ORU uniform.
Biggest Question Mark
Colorado State already has one of the strongest frontcourts in the conference, but it’s the backcourt where the question marks linger. Anthony Masinton-Bonner, now a junior, has yet to carry a large offensive workload after playing alonside high-volume guards Prentiss Nixon and Gian Clavell as an underclassman. J.D. Paige is an experienced returnee but shot just 35.3 percent from the floor last season, averaging 10.5 field goal attempts to muster 10.4 points per game. Pressure will be on both of these guys on the offensive end if Medved’s group plans to climb the Mountain West ladder.
Marquee Non-Conference Matchup
Look no further than Colorado State’s December 5th matchup against Arkansas in Moby Arena. CSU will hope to avenge last year’s 92-66 blowout in Fayetteville, a game in which the Rams once led 13-2. Arkansas is led by Daniel Gafford, a 6-11, 233-pounder who averaged 11.8 points and 6.2 rebounds per game as a freshman.
Nico Carvacho was one of just eight players in the 2017-18 season to rank among the top 35 in both offensive rebounding and defensive rebounding percentage.
Offensive Production Chart
Thirty Second Breakdown
Colorado State quite possibly possesses a top five starting lineup in the Mountain West. On paper, though, this is still a team with a first-year head coach that defeated only San Jose State in its final 13 contests last year. That’s a sizable undertaking for Niko Medved, a coach who has just one 20-win season in his five years.
Medved will need to work some Moby Magic if he plans to finish in the conference’s top half in ’18-19, but it isn’t impossible. CSU is your textbook darkhorse candidate – a team that could end up being a major surprise on both the positive and negative spectrums.
Predicted Order of Finish
Eli Boettger is the lead basketball writer at Mountain West Wire. He’s covered Mountain West basketball since 2015 and his work has been featured on Bleacher Report, NBC Sports, SB Nation, Yahoo Sports, MSN, and other platforms. Boettger is a current USBWA member.