Vance Jackson, New Mexico
’18-19 stats: 13.1 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.1 SPG
In his first year in Albuquerque, UConn transfer Vance Jackson was a workhorse for the Lobos. The dynamic forward finished in double figures 23 times, including two monster performances in the Mountain West Tournament where he averaged 25.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game. At 6-9 and 230 pounds with an easy perimeter stroke (57 made three-pointers in ’18-19) and the frame to battle inside, Jackson is one of the most valuable players in the conference.
Lavelle Scottie, Air Force
’18-19 stats: 15.3 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 48.7 FG%
It’s not easy to gain public notoriety playing for a service academy, but if you don’t know Lavelle Scottie’s name by now, you’re not paying close enough attention. Few players in the conference produce at a consistent basis like Scottie. The senior forward scored eight or more points in 31 of his 32 outings last season, leading the team in points per game for the second consecutive year. Scottie and fellow frontcourt stud Ryan Swan are poised to compete with the Mountain West powers in ’19-20.
Nate Grimes, Fresno State
‘18-19 stats: 11.8 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 1.7 BPG, 59.9 FG%
I will never quite understand why Nate Grimes played sparingly as an underclassmen in a Fresno State uniform. He’s always been productive, averaging a double-double per 40 minutes his entire career. In fact, he’s one of just ten players nationally to average eight points, seven rebounds, and one block per game while shooting over 60 percent from the field over the past two seasons. Grimes was also eighth nationally in defensive rebounding percentage last year and owns the highest career defensive rebounding percentage in Mountain West history. He’s a sneaky all-conference choice.
Malachi Flynn, San Diego State
’17-18 stats (with Washington State): 15.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 4.3 APG, 1.6 SPG
San Diego State will boast a loaded backcourt in ’19-20 despite losing both Devin Watson and Jeremy Hemsley to graduation. Washington State transfer Malachi Flynn and Santa Clara transfer K.J. Feagin will join forces at Viejas and pack a major scoring punch. Flynn does more than just score, though, racking up assists at a high rate and on the opposite side of the ball, he defends well without fouling (recording 49 steals and just 56 fouls in ’17-18).
Also considered: Justinian Jessup, Boise State; Derrick Alston, Boise State; Kris Martin, Colorado State; Jazz Johnson, Nevada; Jalen Harris, Nevada; Anthony Mathis, New Mexico; JaQuan Lyle, New Mexico; Carlton Bragg, New Mexico; Zane Martin, New Mexico; K.J. Feagin, San Diego State; Amauri Hardy, UNLV
To keep the conversation going head over to MWCBoard to discuss, debate, and give us who you think will win player of the year.
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.