Mountain West Basketball Profile: San Diego State Aztecs
The Aztecs are looking to return to the NCAA Tournament after winning the Mountain West Tournament last year
Picked second in the Mountain West, the Aztecs want to show that that they are a team that should be playing in March
Next in our Mountain West basketball preview series is San Diego State. Seniors Devin Watson and Jeremy Hemsley hope to lead a relatively young Aztec team to the postseason, while Jalen McDaniels looks to claim the title of best player in the Mountain West.
Projected Starting Lineup
- G, Devin Watson, Sr., 6-1, 183
- G, Jeremy Hemsley, Sr., 6-3, 195
- G, Matt Mitchell, So., 6-6, 240
- F, Jordan Schakel, So., 6-6, 200
- F, Jalen McDaniels, So., 6-10, 195
Player To Watch
The player to watch on the Aztecs clearly has to be Jalen McDaniels. McDaniels flirted with the NBA last season, but decided to return at the last minute. He spent the summer working on improving his game and looks to display more of his arsenal as a focal point of the team offensively. This season will be his last on the Mesa if he can produce on a consistent basis.
An X-Factor for this year’s team will be Jordan Schakel. A notorious gym rat, Schakel has spent the offseason working on his game and a bigger role on the team is likely. Last season his contribution was somewhat surprising, this year his role should expand. A double-digit scoring average from Schakel will be a bonus for this team and would make him another weapon to watch.
The Aztecs added four freshman to the roster in the offseason. Aguek Arop and Nathan Mensah are the two who have separated themselves into being the most game ready. Both players are nursing injuries; impacting their game day readiness. It would not be surprising to see Arop become a regular in the rotation when returns to the court. Mensah could become the starter at center when he is able to play without restriction.
Biggest Question Mark
The biggest question mark for this team is will the intensity on both ends of the court be there. San Diego State has been known as of late as a slow it down grind you team who has trouble scoring, but this year they have players who should be able to contribute offensively. Without former assistant coach, and new Fresno State head coach, Justin Hutson in the mix the question will be can they play high-level defense that keeps them in games. Last year the Aztecs did their best when the defensive level improved, can it again this year?
Marquee Non-Conference Matchup
Undoubtedly the Aztecs’ biggest game is its first round game of the Maui Invitational against Duke. The Blue Devils come in to the season as a top five team with one of the best recruiting classes in the nation. A win against Duke would be huge nationally as it will increase the Aztecs’ tournament resume and would put them on the stage as an at large bid team.
San Diego State is the premier defensive team in the Mountain West. They ranked first in scoring defense in the league for the fifth year in a row.
Offensive Production Chart
Thirty Second Breakdown
San Diego State will be looking for a return trip to the NCAA Tournament. That is the goal. Anything less than that will be seen as a disappointment. The Aztecs are not where they once were, however if last year is any indication they are heading in the right direction. Look for the mix of veterans and young faces to lead the Aztecs back to the postseason and towards a bright future.
Predicted Order of Finish