#8 San Diego State Aztecs: College Basketball 111 in 111

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Welcome to The Sports Bank’s third annual college basketball season preview series.  Two years we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  Last year, we were slightly more aggressive and expanded to 111 teams in 111 days and will do so again as we look ahead to the 2012-2013 season.

We will rank the 75 power conference teams and top 36 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.

In their first game of the season yesterday, the San Diego State Aztecs didn’t look sharp at all.  Some of that has to be credited to their opponent and it’s hard to say how much the conditions of playing outdoors factored into their subpar play as well.  Still, I think SDSU will be a top ten caliber team by the time March Madness rolls around.

SAN DIEGO STATE AZTECS
Last Season: T-1st, 10-4 in MWC, 26-8 overall
Predicted MWC Finish: 2nd

Projected Depth Chart
F/C:Deshawn Stephens (Sr)/Skylar Spencer (Fr)/James Johnson (So)
F: J.J. O’Brien (So)/Dwayne Polee (So)
G/F: Jamaal Franklin (Jr)/Winston Shepard (Fr)/Matt Shrigley (Fr)
SG: Chase Tapley (Sr)/James Rahon (Sr)
PG: Xavier Thames (Jr)LaBradford Franklin (Jr)

Gone: F/C-Garrett Green, F/C-Tim Shelton, F/C-Alec Williams (transfer-Humboldt State)

2012-2013 Outlook:
Long and athletic; that is going to be the first thing that pops to mind when you watch the Aztecs play this season.  They don’t have a true center on their roster and will instead utilize that length and athleticism to cause problems defensively and get out in transition as much as possible.

Jamaal Franklin made a huge leap last season to earn Mountain West Player of the Year.  He is a talented all-around scorer but also led SDSU with almost eight rebounds per game.  Chase Tapley and Xavier Thames also return to form a very experienced starting backcourt.  Tapley is the team’s top three point threat and unquestioned leader while Thames is the best distributor on the roster.

James Rahon goes from a starting role to coming off the bench with LaBradford Franklin providing Steve Fisher with more experience in the backcourt.  Freshman Winston Shepherd is a versatile wing to can play a number of positions and figures to be a key cog off the bench.  Matt Shrigley will be the odd man out of the rotation.

Deshawn Stevens is the only returning forward but the addition of transfers J.J. O’Brien and Dwayne Polee will help replace three role players gone from last year’s team.  There isn’t a whole lot of physicality among the group but a ton of that length and athleticism that has been a staple for the Aztecs the past few seasons.  A third transfer, James Johnson from Virginia becomes eligible after the first semester and does bring a little more physicality to the floor.  Freshman Skylar Spencer will be used in spot situation in the meantime but that could dwindle when Johnson is able to play.

Fisher will be able to mix and match his lineup with numerous different combinations since there is so much athleticism and versatility on this roster.  Their defense will be able to pressure opponents with fury and force turnovers which should lead to transition buckets.  What will make the difference between a solid season and potentially special year will be their lack of physicality inside and how well they can shoot the ball in the half-court if their fast break opportunities are limited.

Player to Watch: Jamaal Franklin
The addition of guys like O’Brien, Shepard, and Polee should help take some of the scoring load off Franklin and the backcourt.  What helps make Franklin such a threat is that he can score from just about anywhere on the floor.  He does tend to force the issue a bit too much and showing better shot selection/decision making will help him be even more dangerous this season.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/11 vs. Syracuse (on deck of USS Midway Museum)
11/25 at USC
12/1 vs. UCLA (Wooden Classic in Anaheim)
12/22 vs. San Francisco (Diamond Head Classic)
12/23 vs. Ole Miss/Indiana State (Diamond Head Classic)
12/25 vs. Arizona/East Tennessee State/Miami, FL/Hawaii (Diamond Head Classic)

OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#10 Michigan Wolverines
#11 Syracuse Orange
#12 Duke Blue Devils
#13 Ohio State Buckeyes
#14 Arizona Wildcats
#15 North Carolina Tar Heels
#16 Michigan State Spartans
#17 UCLA Bruins
#18 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
#19 Cincinnati Bearcats
#20 Marquette Golden Eagles
#21 Creighton Bluejays
#22 Gonzaga Bulldogs
#23 Minnesota Golden Gophers
#24 Memphis Tigers
#25 Baylor Bears
#26 Wisconsin Badgers
#27 Tennessee Volunteers
#28 Pitt Panthers
#29 New Mexico Lobos
#30 St. Mary’s Gaels
#31 Georgetown Hoyas
#32 North Texas Mean Green
#33 Ohio Bobcats
#34 Texas Longhorns
#35 Miami Hurricanes
#36 Purdue Boilermakers
#37 Alabama Crimson Tide
#38 St. Joseph’s Hawks
#39 Murray State Racers
#40 VCU Rams
#41 Davidson Wildcats
#42 Stanford Cardinal
#43 UMass Minutemen
#44 St. John’s Red Storm
#45 Butler Bulldogs
#46 Florida State Seminoles
#47 Drexel Dragons
#48 St. Louis Billikens
#49 West Virginia Mountaineers
#50 BYU Cougars
#51 Temple Owls
#52 Washington Huskies
#53 California Golden Bears
#54 Kansas State Wildcats
#55 Nevada Wolfpack
#56 Colorado Buffaloes
#57 Iowa State Cyclones
#58 Northern Iowa Panthers
#59 Colorado State Rams
#60 Iowa Hawkeyes
#61 South Florida Bulls
#62 Valparaiso Crusaders
#63 Illinois Fighting Illini
#64 Arkansas Razorbacks
#65 Wichita State Shockers
#66 George Mason Patriots
#67 Virginia Cavaliers
#68 Villanova Wildcats
#69 Maryland Terrapins
#70 Marshall Thundering Herd
#71 Iona Gaels
#72 Northwestern Wildcats
#73 Oklahoms State Cowboys
#74 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
#75 USC Trojans
#76 UConn Huskies
#77 Harvard Crimson
#78 Xavier Musketeers
#79 Ole Miss Rebels
#80 Clemson Tigers
#81 Oregon State Beavers
#82 Texas A&M Aggies
#83 Providence Friars
#84 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#85 Oklahoma Sooners
#86 Lehigh Mountain Hawks
#87 Washington State Cougars
#88 Long Beach State 49ers
#89 Belmont Bruins
#90 Vanderbilt Commodores
#91 Dayton Flyers
#92 Houston Cougars
#93 UCF Knights
#94 Old Dominion Monarchs
#95 Oregon Ducks
#96 LSU Tigers
#97 South Carolina Gamecocks
#98 Seton Hall Pirates
#99 Georgia Bulldogs
#100 DePaul Blue Demons
#101 Boston College Eagles
#102 Penn State Nittany Lions
#103 Arizona State Sun Devils
#104 Virginia Tech Hokies
#105 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#108 TCU Horned Frogs
#109 Mississippi State Bulldogs
#110 Utah Utes
#111 Nebraska Cornhuskers

David Kay is a senior feature NBA DraftNBA, 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.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)

You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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