99 in 99: #25 San Diego State Aztecs

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A bubble team entering the Mountain West Tournament, San Diego State won three games in three days to claim the title and earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.  This season, there should be no worries about having their bubble burst as the Aztecs should be a Top 25 caliber club.

The Sports Bank’s “99 in 99” college basketball preview ranks the 72 power conference and top 27 mid-major programs and has now reached our Top 25.  Click here if you missed teams #26-#99.

By: David Kay

San Diego State Aztecs (T-3rd, 11-5 in MWC, 25-9 overall)

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Malcolm Thomas (Sr)/Brian Carlwell (Sr)/Mehdi Cheriet (Sr)
F: Billy White (Sr)/Tim Shelton (Jr)
F: Kawhi Leonard (So)/Alec Williams (So)
G: Chase Tapley (So)/Jamaal Franklin (Fr)/James Rahon (So)
PG: D.J. Gay (Sr)/LaBradford Franklin (Fr)

Gone: G-Kelvin Davis, SG-Tyrone Shelley (transfer-Georgetown College)

2010-2011 Outlook:
Steve Fisher has the luxury of returning his top five scorers from a year ago.  The frontcourt is long and athletic with seniors Billy White and Malcolm Thomas, and NBA Draft lottery prospect Kawhi Leonard who is coming off a very impressive freshman season.

Former Illinois transfer Brian Carlwell is a big body who will bring his physicality and experience off the bench.  You have to feel for Tim Shelton who is coming off the fourth knee surgery of his career.  If he can stay healthy, Shelton adds even more depth to what would be a very talented and versatile frontcourt.

Senior D.J. Gay is back to run the point and will likely be flanked by Chase Tarpley in the starting backcourt.  Both players can shoot the three and do a good job of taking care of the ball.  Santa Clara transfer James Rahon becomes eligible after sitting out a year and will bring his sharpshooting off the bench.  The Franklin freshmen should compete for playing time right away with LaBradford having the potential to be an immediate difference maker.

The Mountain West sent four teams to the NCAA Tournament last season including the Aztecs.  SDSU edges BYU as the favorite to take the conference title with UNLV and New Mexico nipping on their heels.  Unlike last year, do not expect San Diego State to be sweating it out down the stretch of the season and needing to win the MWC tournament to get into the dance.

Kawhi Leonard sdsu

Player to Watch: Kawhi Leonard, SF
The athletic 6-7 forward made a huge splash at San Diego State becoming the first ever freshman to earn first team All-Mountain West honors.  He is extremely aggressive on the glass finishing point-one rebound per game away from averaging a double-double.  Leonard’s glaring weakness is his outside shooting as he hit just 20.5% of his triple tries.  If he can improve his jumper this season, it will greatly benefit the Aztecs and almost assuredly make Leonard a legitimate lottery prospect.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/16 at Gonzaga
12/1 at St. Mary’s
12/4 vs. Wichita State
12/8 at California

Other 99 in 99’s:
#26 Xavier
#27 West Virginia
#28 BYU
#29 Georgia
#30 St. John’s
#31 N.C. State
#32 Florida State
#33 Marquette
#34 Temple
#35 Vanderbilt
#36 Arizona
#37 Murray State
#38 Dayton
#39 Notre Dame
#40 Mississippi State
#41 Utah State
#42 Maryland
#43 Richmond
#44 UNLV
#45 Seton Hall
#46 Wichita State
#47 Washington State
#48 St. Louis
#49 Old Dominion
#50 Minnesota
#51 New Mexico
#52 UConn
#53 Northwestern
#54 UCLA
#55 Southern Mississippi
#56 St. Mary’s
#57 Texas A&M
#58 Louisville
#59 Arizona State
#60 Northern Iowa
#61 Creighton
#62 Clemson
#63 Cincinnati
#64 Texas Tech
#65 Miami, FL
#66 Charlotte
#67 UTEP
#68 Ole Miss
#69 George Mason
#70 Colorado
#71 Weber State
#72 Alabama
#73 Bradley
#74 Central Florida
#75 Wake Forest
#76 Georgia Tech
#77 USC
#78 Oklahoma State
#79 Cal
#80 Oklahoma
#81 Virginia
#82 South Carolina
#83 Indiana
#84 Stanford
#85 Oregon
#86 Penn State
#87 South Florida
#88 Arkansas
#89 Boston College
#90 LSU
#91 Providence
#92 Michigan
#93 Oregon State
#94. Nebraska
#95. Auburn
#96. DePaul
#97. Iowa State
#98. Rutgers
#99. Iowa

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