Welcome to The Sports Bank’s fourth annual college basketball season preview series where we break 111 teams in the 111 days leading up to the opening tip-off of the 2013-2014 season. We will rank the 84 power conference teams (including the new Big East and American Athletic Conferences) and top 27 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order. We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.
With four straight trips to the NCAA Tournament and an average of almost 27 wins per season during the past five years, the San Diego State Aztecs have emerged as one of the most consistent teams out West. Steve Fisher loses his top two players from last year though so expect a bit of a dip this season.
SAN DIEGO STATE AZTECS
Last Season: T-4th, 9-7 in MWC, 23-11 overall
Predicted MWC Finish: 3rd
Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Skylar Spencer (So)/James Johnson (Jr)
F: Josh Davis (Sr)/Dwayne Polee (Jr)
G/F: J.J. O’Brien (Jr)/Matt Shrigley (Fr)
G/F: Winston Shepard (So)/Dakari Allen (Fr)/Ageel Quinn (Jr)
G: Xavier Thames (Sr)/D’Erryl Williams (Fr)
Gone: G/F-Jamaal Franklin, G-Chase Tapley, F/C-Deshawn Stephens, SG-James Rahon, PG-LaBradford Franklin (transfer)
With Jamaal Franklin and Chase Tapley gone, the Aztecs need some new faces to step into larger roles. Xavier Thames is the team’s top returning scorer and will technically be the team’s starting point guard but Fisher has some versatile guys capable of playing a point forward type role in J.J. O’Brien and Winston Shepard.
At 6-7 and 6-8 respectively, O’Brien and Shepard are unique players for their size. O’Brien is more of a physical presence who can play inside or outside while Shepard relies on his athleticism. Shepard played like a freshman last season with some poor decision-making but easily possesses the most potential on the team.
There is a lack of experience coming off the bench in the backcourt. Redshirt freshman Matt Shrigley, Cal-State Northridge transfer Ageel Quinn, and true freshmen Dakari Allen and D’Eryl Williams will all compete for minutes. Allen fits the mold of an Aztec wing with his length, versatility, and ability to defend so expect to see immediate playing time.
The frontcourt received a huge boost with the addition of Tulane transfer Josh Davis who becomes eligible right away since he is pursuing his graduate degree. Originally beginning his collegiate career at N.C. State, Davis had a beastly two years with the Green Wave, averaging nearly 18 points and 11 rebounds per game last season. For a team that lacked a true low post scorer a year ago, Davis definitely helps fill that void.
Skylar Spencer is expected to start down low alongside Davis. Spencer is still a fairly raw talent on the offensive end but made his mark last year as a rim protector. A pair of former transfers, James Johnson (Virginia) and Dwayne Polee (St. John’s) add depth inside. Johnson is more of a prototypical big man who never really found his niche with the team last year after becoming eligible midway through the season. Polee, is a long, wirey, athletic combo forward who really excels in transition.
Fisher also picked up another transfer in former Arizona big man, Angelo Chol. He is an active, high energy player who must sit out this season per NCAA transfer rules.
The San Diego State Aztecs will finish in the upper half of the Mountain West Conference standings but I think they are a step behind teams like New Mexico and Boise State. Still, Fisher should have his program back in the tourney for a fifth consecutive year.
Player to Watch: Winston Shepard
The Aztec roster is loaded with versatile players but Shepard is by far the most talented of the bunch. He can play anywhere from the one-four on both ends of the floor and should see a serious increase in workload and responsibility as a sophomore.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/14 vs. Arizona
11/28 vs. Charleston (Wooden Legacy)
11/29 vs. Creighton/Arizona State (Wooden Legacy)
12/1 vs. Marquette/CS-Fullerton/Miami FL/George Washington (Wooden Legacy)
12/8 vs. Washington
1/5 at Kansas
OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#38 San Diego State
#40 Arizona State
#44 Iowa State
#52 Boston College
#53 Ole Miss
#56 Saint Mary’s
#60 Florida Gulf Coast
#64 Florida State
#66 N.C. State
#67 Kansas State
#70 Miami FL
#72 Texas A&M
#73 Long Beach State
#76 Indiana State
#77 Georgia Tech
#84 Washington State
#86 Oregon State
#87 Louisiana Tech
#89 Wake Forest
#90 Central Florida
#95 Seton Hall
#97 George Mason
#99 Penn State
#101 West Virginia
#102 South Florida
#103 Mississippi State
#105 South Carolina
#106 Texas Tech
#108 Virginia Tech
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu to Milwaukee. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet , AND the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft. (Yup, nearly 3peat champ… #humblebrag.)
You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks