San Diego State
The Aztecs lost a few starters from last year’s squad, but strike a good mix of returning talent and new faces. The backcourt is completely retooled, with transfers Feagin (Santa Clara) and Flynn (Washington State) set to tag-team the ball handling duties. Schakel could be primed for a breakout junior season after shooting 41.5% from downtown. Mitchell, who is well on his way to becoming a 1,000-point scorer, and Mensah should eat up the lion’s share of minutes in the frontcourt. Narain and Joel Mensah should also provide depth and size off the bench for head coach Brian Dutcher.
San Jose State
Jean Prioleau rolls out a lineup that returns three starters after losing its top scorers from 2018-19. The Spartans really need to improve their shooting, as Ivey, Knight, and LeCesne combined for nearly 20 shots per game while shooting a combined 35.4% from the field. To that end, Prioleau has brought in Washington, who transfers in from Tallahassee CC by way of Wake Forest. Another former Demon Deacon could join in, as Japhet-Mathias provides immense size (6’10”, 280 lbs) in the post. He’s something of an unknown quantity and could cede minutes to Chastain, who started 15 games last year.
There’s enough talent on this Runnin’ Rebels roster to keep them out of the cellar. UNLV lost a bevy of talent and will depend heavily on Hardy and Diong, the main holdovers from 2018-19. Blair got a couple starts last year and will likely slide up the pecking order after the mass exodus following Marvis Menzies’ ouster. Grad transfer Mitrou-Long could have a huge impact at the guard position and could help stabilize the team. The big question mark is on the wing. Hamilton made 31 appearances last season, but might lose time to the sharpshooting Antonio, a longtime Otzelberger target.
This Aggies team should look quite similar to the squad that Craig Smith rolled out last season on their way to a share of the Mountain West regular season title and a MWC Tournament triumph. The household names are Merrill and Queta, certainly, but they are not the only studs on the roster. Porter and Miller logged serious minutes last season and should contribute similarly this year. Brito, a defensive specialist, was the perfect sixth man for Utah State and will likely fill the same role again. The other frontcourt spot should go to Bean or JUCO transfer Alphonso Anderson.
The Cowboys lost their all-league selection and leader in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals, and blocks when Justin James graduated. Now, head coach Allen Edwards is going to face an uphill climb. Luckily, Maldonado has battled back from a series of injuries that cut his season short and might be the Cowboys’ top option next season. The remaining four starters in this list each played more than 750 minutes last season and must take a collective step forward to make Wyoming successful. Porter, who appeared in 31 games last season and started two, is poised to get minutes off the bench.
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.
Andrew Dieckhoff covers basketball for Mountain West Wire. He also runs the Dieckhoff Power Index, a website for college basketball analytics and bracketology.