Who Will Join the Mountain West 1,000-Point Club in 2019-20?

Who Will Join the Mountain West 1,000-Point Club in 2019-20?

Air Force

Who Will Join the Mountain West 1,000-Point Club in 2019-20?


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Who Will Join the Mountain West 1,000-Point Club in 2019-20?

A handful of returning players are already halfway there

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& @MWCwire

Who will hit 1,000 points this season?

With over one hundred members in the conference’s 20-year history, the Mountain West 1,000-Point Club is not exactly an exclusive group. However, there are only four returning MWC players who have already joined the club: Utah State’s Sam Merrill (1568 points), Boise State’s Justinian Jessup (1071), Air Force’s Lavelle Scottie (1045), and Colorado State’s Nico Carvacho (1002).

Heading into the 2019-20 season, there are eight players who are already halfway to joining this club. Let’s take a look at which of them have the best chances.

Alex Hobbs, Boise State – 759 points

The senior guard has made jumps every season in both points scored and playing time, so Hobbs seems the best bet to join the 1,000-point club in 2019-20. There’s no reason to believe that the Broncos’ backcourt will look noticeably different from last season, where Hobbs averaged over 30 minutes per game. So, if he can maintain his average of 12 points per game from last year, he should surpass 1,000 points around late January.

Chances of reaching 1,000 points: Very High

Matt Mitchell, San Diego State – 695 points

One of three juniors on this list, Mitchell has been a big part of the Aztec offense since day one. Depending on how much Brian Dutcher involves his new toys in the backcourt, Mitchell could see a dip in usage. That said, Mitchell became significantly less effective in an increased role last season. If he can get his shooting numbers back to where they were, while still getting right around 20% usage, Mitchell could reach the millennium mark in just three seasons.

Chances of reaching 1,000 points: High

Ryan Swan, Air Force – 694 points

Right behind Mitchell is Swan, who has cut his teeth as the second option behind Lavelle Scottie for the past two seasons. After getting only 17 points in his freshman campaign, the 6’7” forward has come on strong, averaging 12.6 points in 27.5 minutes per game in 2019. The Falcons bring back just about everybody, so we can reasonably expect a similar season out of Swan. If he delivers, he will easily cross the 1,000-point barrier.

Chances of reaching 1,000 points: High

Makuach Maluach, New Mexico – 643 points

Maluach is another junior on this list and, like Matt Mitchell, saw his effectiveness dip precipitously with a big jump in playing time in his sophomore year. His field goal percentage dropped from 55.5% down to a dismal 38.3% last season. It’s unclear exactly what role Maluach will have in Paul Weir’s reloaded Lobos offense, which makes this a difficult one to predict. There simply may not be enough touches to go around for the Aussie wing to get to 1,000 points.

Chances of reaching 1,000 points: Medium to Low

Amauri Hardy, UNLV – 570 points

Hardy had a breakout season last year for the Rebels, finishing second on the team in scoring behind departed guard Kris Clyburn. With Clyburn gone – as well as other top scorers Joel Ntambwe (transfer) and Noah Robotham (graduation) – this offense is Hardy’s for the time being. Hardy managed 406 points last year in a crowded offense and with only 430 points left until he hits quadruple digits, the Detroit product has a very good chance at pulling it off.

Chances of reaching 1,000 points: High

Nate Grimes, Fresno State – 520 points

Grimes presents an interesting case. Yes, the Bulldogs’ lose Deshon Taylor and Braxton Huggins, but that’s also not necessarily a green light for Grimes to become Option 1 in Justin Hutson’s schemes. More likely is that New Williams and Noah Blackwell will step up into those scorer roles and Grimes’ production will be pretty similar to what he did in 2019-20. If that’s the case, he may struggle to even get over 900, much less make it into the 1,000-point pantheon.

Chances of reaching 1,000 points: Low

Diogo Brito, Utah State – 512

Brito had a heck of a season for the Aggies coming off the bench in all 35 games, eventually ending as their third-highest scorer. That said, with Merrill back in the fold and Brock Miller likely to be the second scoring option out of the backcourt, it seems that he may have hit a ceiling last year. He’ll still get plenty of minutes, especially because of his skills on defense, but with so many other scoring options available for the Aggies, Brito will be hard-pressed to double his career totals.

Chances of reaching 1,000 points: Very Low

This list comprises seven different Mountain West teams, with Nevada, Colorado State, Wyoming, and San Jose State failing to field a career 500-point scorer in MWC play. For the Wolf Pack, there is a very outside chance that Jazz Johnson could hit this mark in his final year, but he would have to average 20 points per game over a span of 32 games to do so. I really like Johnson’s game, but that feels like a stretch.

The Rams did have a potential 1,000-point scorer on the roster in Anthony Masinton-Bonner, but he transferred to Missouri State. His departure leaves sophomores Kendle Moore and Adam Thistlewood tied as the closest to joining Carvacho in the club, but they are both sitting at just 275 points.

As for the Cowboys, recent NBA draftee Justin James handled all of the scoring duties in his four years, ending up as one of only five players to ever score 2,000 career points in the league. His departure leaves Hunter Maldonado, who boasts a lowly 263 career points, as the top returning scorer. There’s just too big a gap for any Cowboy to have a realistic shot at the club this year.

San Jose State, meanwhile, can’t seem to keep their scorers in the building, as I documented recently. There was a chance that Noah Baumann would’ve had a good shot at the milestone, but he transferred to USC. That leaves Brae Ivey as the Spartans’ most prolific returner in 2019-20. Ivey notched 286 points in his first season with the team, but a 714-point season is almost surely beyond reach.

If I had to guess, I would say that there will be four new members in the Mountain West 1,000-Point Club after this season: Hobbs, Mitchell, Swan, and Hardy. I think Maluach and Grimes will get close, but will fall just short. Brito might actually get surpassed by Jazz Johnson and maybe even teammate Neemias Queta.

This should be a fun race to keep track of during the season.

Andrew Dieckhoff covers basketball for Mountain West Wire. He also runs the Dieckhoff Power Index, a website for college basketball analytics and bracketology.


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