Five For ’20: Ranking The Mountain West’s Top Five Rebounders
Predicting the top five Mountain West rebounders of the ’19-20 season
Who are the top rebounders in the MW?
As part of Mountain West Wire’s continued dedication to offseason basketball content, we welcome you to the final installment of the Five For ’20 series.
The Five For ’20 series features our ranking of the top five Mountain West players in five different skill sets: passing, scoring, defending, rebounding, and shot blocking.
We hope you enjoy the five-article series and engage in further conversation about where certain players should rank or appear on our Five For ’20 lists.
The Five For ’20 series schedule is below.
Without further adieu, let’s take a look at the conference’s best rebounders.
1) Nico Carvacho, Colorado State
’18-19: 12.9 RPG, 14.7 ORB%, 32.6 DRB%
The best rebounder in the country. Colorado State’s big man will wind up as one of the most productive players in league history and will be the all-time leading Mountain West rebounder by mid November.
Carvacho has great instincts, positions himself correctly and can predict where the ball will bounce off the rim. His stature at 6-11/240 is exceedingly difficult for opposing big men to disrupt. The senior center was one of just two players nationally to rank in the top 20 in the country in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage, a credit to his effort on both ends. Carvacho also led the conference with 47 offensive putbacks this past season.
2) Nate Grimes, Fresno State
’18-19: 9.2 RPG, 11.8 ORB%, 29.6 DRB%
After a quiet two seasons under departed head coach Rodney Terry, Grimes turned it on as a junior on Justin Hutson’s squad. Grimes’ per-rate stats have always been strong, but he finally had a chance to stay on the floor and contribute this past year and winded up as one of the league’s top forwards.
Grimes isn’t quite as imposing size-wise as Carvacho, though he makes up for it in strength, absurdly long arms, and general quickness. The 6-8 forward is constantly battling inside and his efforts show up in the stat sheet, recording 11 double-doubles last season and a 19-point, 19-rebound showcase in February against New Mexico.
3) Neemias Queta, Utah State
’18-19: 8.9 RPG, 11.1 ORB%, 25.6 DRB%
Queta’s rise from a relatively overlooked international big man to legit first round NBA Draft potential has been well-documented. With a jaw-dropping 7-5 wingspan and above-average athletic ability, it’s no surprise that Utah State’s star is one of the top rebounders in the nation.
The key for Queta moving forward in the rebounding category – which will be pivotal to his professional longevity – is improving his strength and presence around the rim. Queta will sometimes be caught off balance after embracing contact and it prevents him from being in better position for a rebound, something that can be offset with further strength. Even still, he is an elite big man at the college level and is primed for a breakout sophomore campaign.
4) Carlton Bragg, New Mexico
’18-19: 8.8 RPG, 10.6 ORB%, 29.8 DRB%
Increased playing time is partly the reason Bragg’s rebounding numbers have improved throughout his career, but the New Mexico forward has gotten much better on the class since his time with the Kansas Jayhawks. Bragg’s defensive rebounding percentage of 18.1 in two seasons with KU was largely underwhelming. Paul Weir got the most out of the former five-star this past season, though, as Bragg wound up seventh nationally in defensive rebounding percentage.
Lack of talent has never been the issue for Bragg, and now it looks like everything is coming together for the Cleveland native who came out of high school with such lofty expectations. The Mountain West is stockpiled with quality big men and tremendous rebounders, but Bragg could again be a force on the national scale in the rebounding category in New Mexico’s up-tempo attack.
5) Nathan Mensah, San Diego State
’18-19: 5.5 RPG, 14.5 ORB%, 18.4 DRB%
What Mensah brought to the table in his freshman season gives plenty of hope for Aztec fans that they have their program cornerstone for the next three seasons. It would be a disservice to call the SDSU forward a “Neemias Queta lite,” though the two players’ skill sets are alike.
Mensah was just shy of edging Nico Carvacho as the top offensive rebounder in the league this past season. It’s a promising sign that the underclassman is already elite on the offensive boards and Brian Dutcher’s staff will hope that translates to the opposite side. Mensah is still relatively raw and inexperienced which bodes well for a guy who is an elite offensive rebounder nationally and has plenty of room to grow and get accustomed to the college game.
Also considered: Ryan Swan, Air Force; Assane Diouf, Fresno State; Vance Jackson, New Mexico; Mbacke Diong, UNLV; Hunter Maldonado, Wyoming
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.