Ridiculously Early Mountain West Basketball 2019-20 Preview, Standings Prediction
Our first glance at the 2019-20 Mountain West basketball season
Ridiculously early Mountain West basketball ’19-20 preview
The 2018-19 Mountain West basketball season has concluded. With Nevada and Utah State getting bounced in the round of 64 of the NCAA Tournament, each of the 11 MW programs are thinking about the offseason.
We begin our offseason content with a ridiculously early look at next season.
Returning starters (5): Lavelle Scottie, Ryan Swan, A.J. Walker, Sid Tomes, Keaton Van Soelen
Impact returnees (2): Christopher Joyce, Caleb Morris
Key losses (0): none
Notable additions (0): none
The 2019-20 season could be a special one for the Falcons. Air Force returns eight of the nine players that started a game this past year, the only exception being the outgoing Pervis Louder (3.6 PPG). The Mountain West’s sixth-place finisher in ’18-19 will shoot for a winning conference record for the first time since 2007 thanks to talented frontcourt duo of Lavelle Scottie (15.3 PPG, 5.6 RPG) and Ryan Swan (12.6 PPG, 7.1 RPG). Watch out for this Dave Pilipovich-led squad that has a knack to surprise some people.
Projected order of finish: 5th
Returning starters (4): Justinian Jessup, Derrick Alston, Alex Hobbs, Marcus Dickinson
Impact returnees (1): R.J. Williams
Key losses (1): Zach Haney
Notable additions (1): Abu Kigab (Oregon transfer)
Leon Rice and the Broncos had an uncharacteristically bad year, failing to notch 20 or more victories for the first time since 2012. Boise State was faced with the task of bouncing back from replacing three starters including BSU legend Chandler Hutchison, so it was no surprise the ’18-19 campaign was a bit of a rebuild. Next year’s team should be much improved, though. First off, the Broncos can only be more lucky than they were this past season (dead last in KenPom’s “luck” metric nationally), while Zach Haney and David Wacker are the only key rational losses while they add Oregon transfer Abu Kigab and bring everyone else back. Twenty wins is yet again a possibility in Boise.
Projected order of finish: 4th
Returning starters (3): Nico Carvacho, Kendle Moore, Adam Thistlewood
Impact returnees (3): Anthony Masinton-Bonner, Kris Martin, Deion James
Key losses (1): J.D. Paige
Notable additions (0): none
There were some positives, sure, but the first year of the Niko Medved era didn’t go quite as planned. CSU’s longest win streak of the season was three games and the team never really seemed to have that much positive momentum. Colorado State now has to play the wait-and-see game with guys potentially transferring out of the program, hoping as much talent as possible returns to Fort Collins. If everyone does come back, CSU has one of the better rosters in the conference. Nico Carvacho is fresh off a season where he averaged 16 a night and led the country in rebounds while freshmen Kendle Moore and Adam Thistlewood combined to start 56 games.
Projected order of finish: 8th
Returning starters (2): Nate Grimes, Noah Blackwell
Impact returnees (2): New Williams, Aguir Agau
Key losses (3): Deshon Taylor, Braxton Huggins, Sam Bittner
Notable additions (3): Assane Diouf (redshirt), Jordan Campbell (Oregon State transfer), Chris Seeley (Utah transfer)
Replacing three senior starters won’t be easy, let alone a trio that knocked down 39.9 percent of its 526 three-point attempts. Justin Hutson will enter his second year in Fresno with a tougher job than his first, but he does have some help coming in. Big man Assane Diouf should be ready to go following his redshirt season while Pac-12 transfers Jordan Campbell and Chris Seeley also expect to make an impact. If Nate Grimes continues to improve as he did this past season, he’s a legit all-Mountain West guy in ’19-20. The returners will have to step up or Fresno State will fall back into the middle tier of the conference.
Projected order of finish: 7th
Returning starters (0): none
Impact returnees (3): Jazz Johnson, Jordan Brown, Lindsey Drew
Key losses (6): Caleb Martin, Cody Martin, Jordan Caroline, Trey Porter, Tre’Shawn Thurman, Corey Henson
Notable additions (3): Jalen Harris (Louisiana Tech transfer), JoJo Anderson (Northern Arizona transfer), Eric Parrish (Akron transfer), K.J. Hymes (redshirt)
Talk about a make-or-break season in Reno. Nevada loses about as much production as any team ever has in college basketball history, but still has the pieces to contend for a fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament bid assuming Eric Musselman is still on the sidelines. Jazz Johnson is back, a sharpshooter that probably wasn’t used as much as he should have this past season. Redshirted do-it-all guy Lindsey Drew will man the point guard duties and McDonald’s All-American Jordan Brown is a force down low. Combine that with scorers Jalen Harris and JoJo Anderson as well as the grad transfers the Wolf Pack figure to pick up and you have another solid roster. The ceiling won’t be as high as it was the past two years, but Nevada will still be really, really good. It probably won’t come together overnight, though.
Projected order of finish: 2nd