Predicting Each Mountain West Basketball Starting Lineup For 2019-20
Looking at projections of each Mountain West lineup in ’19-20
Predicting each MW starting five for ’19-20
Next up in our offseason basketball content is projecting each Mountain West team’s starting lineup and sixth man for the 2019-20 season.
Minus Pervis Louder, Air Force brings back everyone from last season’s sixth-place squad. Needless to say, there are some tangible expectations for Dave Pilipovich’s group in ’19-20. Lavelle Scottie and Ryan Swan are both capable of hitting 20 points on a nightly basis. The guard trio of A.J. Walker, Caleb Morris and Chris Joyce won’t pop off the page, but they produce solid minutes and have had their moments.
Boise State can go one of two ways with its starting lineup on day one. It can either opt to slot the redshirted Jorch down low for a true center in the lineup, or Leon Rice can play small ball and have Alston as the “five” while adding another swing or combo forward to the lineup. If either or both of Emmanuel Akot and Abu Kigab become eligible during the season, the latter option seems like the formidable choice going forward. Watch out for R.J. Williams, who started off with a bang and cooled off as the season progressed.
Losing J.D. Paige hurts, but Niko Medved’s team has plenty in store for ’19-20. Point guard Kendle Moore had some great moments as a freshman and Nico Carvacho and Kris Martin are both all-league players. CSU will be able to score again, but it has to improve defensively. Adam Thistlewood and Hyron Edwards will help on that end. The door is open for a handful of newcomers to solidify roles, beginning with effort on the defensive side of the court.
Year two of the Justin Hutson era will be far more challenging than the first. Gone are Deshon Taylor, Braxton Huggins and Sam Bittner, a trio that combined to average 43.1 points per game and hit 210 three-pointers last season. Nate Grimes is probably the most under-appreciated player in the league, Noah Blackwell and New Williams are capable scorers, and redshirt freshman Assane Diouf has legitimate star potential.
Considering the fact the entire city of Reno was in the transfer portal in the spring, this is a really nice starting five for Alford and company in year one. Johnson and Harris expect to carry the bulk of the scoring load while Drew will immediately make the Wolf Pack more cohesive on both ends. The non-stars will make the difference. Despite the coaching change and outgoing class, the expectation is still to compete for the Mountain West title.
No team in the Mountain West has as much talent as New Mexico. I don’t think it’s close, either. The projected starting lineup and sixth man consists of four former top 100 recruits (Lyle, Jackson, Bragg, Caldwell), a former 20-points-per-game scorer in Towson transfer Zane Martin, and two-year starter Makuach Maluach. The puzzle pieces are certainly there, now it’s Paul Weir’s job to make them all fit together.