Preseason Player of the Year:
Caleb Martin, Nevada
Preseason All-Conference Team:
Jordan Caroline, Nevada
Justin James, Wyoming
Caleb Martin, Nevada
Sam Merrill, Utah St
Deshon Taylor, Fresno St
Preseason Newcomer of the Year:
Jordan Brown, Nevada
Projected Order of Finish:
The Wolfpack will have no peers in this conference as it doesn’t have many peers nationally. Nevada will be one of the best teams in the country and the Mountain West, generally, isn’t a league that’ll have multiple teams that can compete with a team like that. Seniors Caleb and Cody Martin, Jordan Caroline and Lindsey Drew all return to help create one of the more talented and experienced starting fives in America.
2. New Mexico
The Lobos were poised to become a serious NCAA tournament contender, but transfer guard Jaquan Lyle tore his Achilles – dealing a blow to New Mexico’s chances and the possibility for more than one at-large bid from this league. Senior guard Anthony Mathis and sophomore Makuach Maluach return and there are enough quality transfers to keep them in the top half of the league.
3. San Diego St
The Aztecs finished the year on a high note by winning the Mountain West tournament and playing a great first-round game against Houston in the NCAA tournament. They will have to replace Tre Kell, Malik Pope and Max Montana so this season will be a bit of a challenge. Senior guard Devin Watson will have to lead this team while sophomore forwards Jalen McDaniels and Matt Mitchell will be part of bright future for the program.
4. Utah St
Junior guard Sam Merrill and senior Dwayne Brown Jr. return for a Utah St team that’ll be one of the better teams in the Mountain West this season. Merrill will be an all-conference performer, but he’ll need to Brown to step up production to offset the loss of Koby McEwen. Junior guard Diogo Brito will have to produce as well and the Aggies will need their juco transfers to contribute immediately.
5. Fresno St
The Bulldogs lost Bryson Williams, Jaron Hopkins, Ray Bowles and Jahmel Taylor, but there’s enough to keep Fresno competitive in the Mountain West. Senior guard Deshon Taylor will be one of the best players in the conference while transfers Braxton Huggins and Noah Blackwell are well-equipped to make sure Taylor isn’t a one-man show. This team will be just fine in the Mountain West.
The Rebels aren’t ready to challenge the top of the conference this season, but under coach Marvin Menzies, it’s only a matter of time before they’re at the top of this league and in the national conversation again. Senior Shakur Juiston will lead the team. Freshmen Bryce Hamilton and Trey Woodbury will compete for minutes. Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua is an intriguing prospect.
The Cowboys are going to be a tough out this year with senior guard Justin James at the helm. He’ll be great, but without Hayden Dalton, Alan Herndon and Louis Adams he’ll have to be. Sophomore guard Hunter Maldanado is the top candidate to help James shoulder the load.
8. Boise St
Head coach Leon Rice has done a remarkable job building this program up, but he’ll be without his top three scorers this year in Chandler Hutchison, Christian Sengfelder and Lexus Williams. Senior center Zach Haney and junior forward Justinian Jessup will have to step up while juco transfer Roderick Williams will need to provide an additional boost.
9. Colorado St
This program was in disarray as former coach Larry Eustachy had to resign in the middle of last season. Despite that, new coach Niko Medved comes with promise and hope for a program that has proven it can be good. Juniors Anthony Bonner and Nico Carvacho and seniors J.D. Paige and Deion James return to give Medved a nice group to work with for this season.
10. Air Force
The military academies are the toughest jobs in Division I basketball. While Army and Navy are better equipped in the Patriot League, it’s a whole other ball game in the Mountain West. The Falcons struggled last season and will most like do so again. Junior forwards Lavelle Scottie and Ryan Swan will be the top players this season.
11. San Jose St
This was one of the very worst teams in the country last season and it may not get much better this season. Head coach Jean Prioleau is in his second season and this rebuild is massive. His top three scorers are all gone. Freshman guard Seneca Knight will be asked to be the savior of this program.