The All decade team, 2009-10 through 2018-19, as chosen by the fans.
Over the long off season I’ve seen a number of outlets release All-Decade teams for the conferences they cover. To the best of my knowledge, no one has released one for the Mountain West, so I took on the challenge. The years in question were the 2009-10 season through the 2018-19 season, as that is what I had seen the other outlets do. I asked the staff at @MWCwire to fill out a google form for their All-Decade Mountain West Team, and I asked as many fans as I could to fill out the google form as well. The results were then weighed 60% for the staff and 40% for the fans if only to help mitigate any bias from Aztec fans (who are most of my following on twitter.)
In the poll, I had a list of 27 players, plus gave the option to write in your own player in case I missed someone. Fans and staff chose 5 first team players, 5 second-team players, and 5 third-team players. If anyone is so offended at the results you feel the need to go change them, the link to the google form will be here: https://forms.gle/HGSaCNVDqnQhVuby7.
With that, let’s get into the results. Players will be listed from least votes to most votes.
Coach of the Decade:
Steve Fisher: 213 Wins, 75.5% Win percentage, 5 regular season championships, 2 conference tournament championships, 6 Postseason appearances, 2 sweet 16s.
This one is really a no brainer. When you consider longevity, success, conference championships, and postseason success, there’s only one choice here. Nevada and New Mexico fans stanning their guys is understandable, but it’s honestly not even a competition. Steve Fisher was the best coach of the decade, and what he was able to accomplish at San Diego State, turning it from an irrelevant school to a national program, is truly impressive. So much so that Fisher himself says that he’s more proud of what he accomplished at San Diego State than he is of winning a National Championship at Michigan.
Third Team All Decade:
Cameron Bairstow, New Mexico: 134 games, 9.2 points, 4.8 Rebs, 0.8 Ast, 13 Win shares.
One of the hardest questions to figure out when finding an all-decade team is, what should the criteria be? Does a player need to play at a high level for multiple seasons, or is one season where you’re the best player around enough to make the team. Bairstow answers that question. His first three seasons at New Mexico were nothing special. He took the classic route of advancing from bench player to starter. In his senior season something clicked, and he exploded for 20.4 points and 7.4 rebounds a game. That single season propelled him to a spot on the all decade team. During that season Bairstow led the Lobos past the Aztecs in the MW championship game, and helped the Lobos achieve a 7 seed in the March Madness tournament. As a senior, Bairstow finished 1st in points, 8th in rebounds, 6th in blocks, and 2nd in win shares. He likely would’ve been the MW player of the year too if it wasn’t for Xavier Thames’ great season.
Josh Adams, Wyoming: 131 G, 13.9 Pts, 3.3 Rebs, 3.0 Ast, 13.94 Wins Added.
Josh Adams never got to experience a large amount of team success, but as an individual player he was consistently pretty good throughout his career. He capped off his collegiate career by scoring 24.7 points a game, to go along with 5.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists. Adams was rewarded for his stellar play by winning the 2015-16 MW Player of the Year award. Adams currently stands at the 10th all time leading scorer in Mountain West history, after finishing in the top 10 in scoring 3 times, and leading the conference his senior year. He also finished top 5 in both assists and steals twice. His advanced data on Sports Reference is incomplete, so I substituted Wins Added for Win Shares. Adams led all Wyoming players in the decade in career Wins Added, and currently stands at 20th overall dating back to the 2005 season.
Tony Snell, New Mexico: 104 G, 9.2 Pts, 2.4 Rebs, 2 Ast, 8.9 Win Shares.
Tony Snell was an important piece to the dominant New Mexico teams at the beginning of the decade. He played in 104 games over the course of 3 years, and was efficient with an average eFG% of 53.3% over that time. In 2013 he was the second leading scorer on a New Mexico team that won 29 games and received a 3 seed in the tournament, scoring 12.5 points to go along with 2.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists. That campaign propelled Snell to the 20th pick in the 2013 NBA draft.
Skylar Spencer, San Diego State: 144 G, 3.8 Pts, 4.5 Reb, 0.3 Ast, 11.9 Win Shares.
When it comes to Skylar Spencer, it’s all about his defense. Offensively Spencer was pretty limited, with his best offensive season contributing a mere 4.8 points per game. HE was a great offensive rebounder though, and currently has the 7th most offensive rebounds in conference history. As for the defense, Spencer currently stands at 7th in conference history in defensive win shares. Most notably, Spencer collected more blocks over his career than any other Mountain West player and it’s not close. Spencer blocked 303 shots over his four years at San Diego State.
It’s a record that is likely to stand for a while. Neemias Queta will have a chance at breaking the record but is currently on pace to fall 34 blocks short. As for team impact, while Spencer was at SDSU the Aztec’s defense never finished ranked lower than 13th in the nation according to KenPom. That’s not all because of Spencer, but he was the defensive centerpiece. As a reward for his efforts, he took home consecutive Mountain West defensive player of the year awards.
Kendall Williams, New Mexico: 137 G, 13.2 Pts, 3.4 Reb, 4.5 Ast, 20.6 Win Shares.
Kendall WIlliams dropping down to the third team all decade blows my mind. This man is the all time leader in assists in conference history with 617. In addition to being a great passer, Williams also currently stands at 11th place in points scored all time, 8th in career steals, and won the 2013 MW player of the year award. Over the course of four years Williams collected 20.6 win shares, which happens to be the most out of any MW player collected during the decade, and 4th in conference history. One of his best moments was arguably in the MW title game against the Aztecs in 2014 where Williams hit a 3 with under 30 seconds left to ice the game. I suspect his lack of pro success had a factor in Williams falling this far, but finishing with the 11th most points in the voting process is nothing to scoff at.