Mountain West All-Decade Basketball Team

Mountain West All-Decade Basketball Team

Boise State

Mountain West All-Decade Basketball Team

By

First Team:

Xavier Thames, San Diego State: 97 G, 12.7 Pts, 2.9 Reb, 3.3 Ast, 12.9 Win Shares.

One could make the argument that Xavier Thames is the best point guard the Mountain West Conference has ever seen. His career stats don’t pop out as he transferred in and played second fiddle to Jamaal Franklin for most of his time at SDSU. Once the team was his, he responded by having a conference finish of 3rd in scoring, 5th in assists, and first in steals.

He finished 3rd in the nation in Win shares that season.  He also owns the 2nd best PIPM score the conference saw in the decade (and 4th best in the conference going back to 2005.) His 17.6 points per game his senior season led an offensively limited Aztecs’ team to their second sweet sixteen of the decade, the only Mountain West team to make multiple Sweet 16’s in the decade.

Larry Nance Jr., Wyoming: 123 G, 11.3 Pts, 6.6 Reb, 1.4 Ast, 16.8 Win Shares.

Larry Nance never won a player of the year award, he never led his team past the first round of the NCAA tournament, but he was a consistent contributor during his time at Wyoming. A two-time first team all-Mountain West player, and co-defensive player of the year, Larry Nance brought a lot of value to the court. As far as conference records go, Nance ranks 5th in total rebounds (2nd in the decade) and 9th in total win shares (3rd most in the decade.) He also finished in the top 10 in steals twice, and the top 10 in blocks twice during his four years at Wyoming. In his senior season he finished fifth in the conference in total points. As a reward for his efforts, Larry Nance was drafted with the 27th pick in the 2015 draft by the Los Angeles Lakers.

Sam Merrill, Utah State: (decade) 100 G, 15.7 Pts, 3.4 Reb, 3.5 Ast, 15.3 Win Shares

(Career): 132 G, 16.6 Pts, 3.6 Reb, 3.6 Ast, 22.4 Win Shares.

One could Argue that Sam Merrill is the best clutch shooter the Mountain West has ever seen. With the game on the line you put the ball in Merrill’s hands, it’ll find its way to the bucket. Merrill’s senior year technically isn’t supposed to be part of the seasons considered here, but Merrill still has earned a spot on the first team. In the conference Merrill had the 8th most Win Shares of the decade, not counting his senior season.

Counting his senior season, Merrill bumps up to second all-time within the conference. In his Junior season, Merrill led the conference in scoring, came in 3rd in assists, and first in win shares, which led to him winning the conference player of the year award. He is also a two-time first-team all-conference player. His overall efficiency and impact as a scorer, facilitator, and defender make him an easy choice at this spot, even if his senior year isn’t counted. The only blemish on Merrill’s career is that he never led his team on a deep tourney run, losing to Washington in the first round his only time in the big dance.

Jimmer Fredette, BYU: (Decade) 71 G, 25.6 Pts, 3.3 Reb, 4.5 Ast, 16 Win Shares.

(Career): 139 G, 18.7 Pts, 2.6 Reb, 3.7 Ast, 23 Win Shares.

Jimmer received the second most votes in the poll. This is probably due to a couple of reasons. The first of which is most of the people who took the poll were likely Aztec fans, seeing as how most of my followers are Aztec fans. The second is due to recency bias and lack of pro success, neither of which should be taken into account, but alas, here we are. Two of Fredette’s seasons took place outside the given window, but Jimmer still deserves a first team placement even when only counting his final two seasons at BYU.

Jimmer led the league in scoring both those years, as well as leading the nation his senior season. The all time points leader in conference history, with 2,599, about 1,800 of which came in our given window, good for 5th place in the decade. Jimmer also finished in the top 5 in assists both years, and is currently 4th in conference history in total assists. He also finished top 5 in steals in 2011, and was the leading 3 point shooter until Justinian Jessup broke the record for made threes in a career this past season.

He led the conference in Win Shares twice, gaining 16 wins his final two seasons. Jimmer was named a first-team All American and was the only Mountain West player to win a national player of the year award in the decade. For his efforts, Jimmer was drafted 10th overall by the Sacramento Kings. While his NBA career never panned out, Fredette is the most electric player the Mountain West has ever seen, and his hyper-efficient scoring makes him an automatic choice for first-team all decade.

Kawhi Leonard, San Diego State: 70 G, 14.1 Pts, 10.2 Reb, 2.2 Ast, 11.8 Win Shares.

Kawhi is the only player to be unanimously voted as a first-team all-decade player. He is also the only player on this list to average a double-double over the course of his career. In his two seasons at San Diego State, he led the league in overall rebounding twice, finished in the top 5 in steals both seasons, and in his sophomore season, he came in second in both scoring and win shares. Known mostly for his defense, he finished first in the conference in defensive win shares, and second in the nation in defensive win shares in 2011. For a 6’7” player to lead the league in rebounding is impressive, to finish 4th in the nation is even more impressive. Kawhi currently stands at 12th place for career rebounds in Mountain West history and was on pace for over 1,400 had he played a full four years.

The current first place player is Nico Caravacho, at 1,292. Kawhi also led the Aztecs to their first Sweet 16 in program history, losing to eventual national champion UConn. For his efforts, Kawhi was named a consensus second team All-American, one of only two Mountain West players to make a consensus All American team in the decade (the other being Jimmer Fredette.) Kawhi was drafted 15th by the Indiana Pacers in the 2011 draft and traded to San Antonio shortly thereafter. His mark on SDSU, and the conference as a whole, will long be remembered, as Kawhi helped launch SDSU into relevancy, and the Aztecs continue to remain relevant largely due to the legacy he left.

Latest

More MWWire