FSM’s 2019-20 MWC Men’s Basketball Preseason Poll



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  1. Utah State- The Aggies and All-MWC guard Sam Merril were not only the surprise team in the MWC a season ago, but maybe even the entire country. In his first season at the helm in Logan head coach Craig Smith won a gaudy 28 games, shared the regular-season title with an ultra hyped Reno team, and won the Mountain West Conference Tournament. Utah State brings back 58.6 ppg worth of scoring, so they’re hoping to build off a one and done NCAA trip and go even further into March Madness. 


  1. San Diego State- Under Steve Fisher the Aztecs were a well-oiled machine. They were always athletic, staunch defensively, and usually at the top of the MWC standings. After Fisher handed off the reins to coach-in-waiting Brian Dutcher, it’s been an up and down experience. This year looks to be on the uptick as SDSU welcomes in a pair of highly-touted guard transfers. Malachi Flynn (Wazzu) and KJ Feagin (Santa Clara) will join veteran wing Matt Mitchell to form the best team Viejas has seen in a couple of years. 


  1. Fresno State – Braxton Huggins and Deshon Taylor are gone, but all league tough guy Nate Grimes returns for Justin Hutson in year 2 of his stay in Fresno. Improved recruiting and the fact that Noah Blackwell and New Williams are there to keep the backcourt afloat, I can’t see the Bulldogs backsliding this season. 


  1. UNLV – Expectations are always sky-high at UNLV. That won’t change just because it’s TJ Otzelberger’s first season with the Runnin’ Rebels. He will be tasked with resurrecting a sleeping giant in the desert, and he went a long way towards doing that by luring back Amauri Hardy and Bryce Hamilton after they entered the transfer portal. What will really bring the Rebels closer to contention is Utah transfer, Donnie Tillman. The reigning Pac-12 6th Man of the Year is immediately eligible for Otzelberger, and he’s a difference-maker. 


  1. New Mexico – Paul Weir did less with more last season and that is always alarming. Especially considering he’s added a lot of talent since taking the job at New Mexico. Carlton Bragg and Vance Jackson return to The Pit, but losing Anthony Mathis was extremely detrimental to the cause. Mathis made that team go, and without him, I can’t see the Lobos as anything but middle of the pack. 


  1. UNR – Despite faltering at UCLA and not being the best fit there, there’s no denying Steve Alford knows how to win in the MWC. He had to convince a lot of Wolfpack players to forego the transfer portal, and for the most part, he was pretty successful at doing so. Namely, Lindsey Drew and Jalen Harris will make sure UNR doesn’t fall too far from grace. 


  1. Boise State – Leon Rice used to have Boise State in the top half of the conference consistently. He’d also have the Broncos dancing on occasion. Seems as though things have plateaued for him and his program. Boise does return its top 4 scorers, however. Justinian Jessup is the team’s leading scorer, and he’ll be tasked with making this group move up the standings. 


  1. Air Force – Lavelle Scottie is a difference-maker for the Cadets. That being said, backdoor cuts and the Princeton offense haven’t made the Falcons MWC contenders since the league was playing its conference tournament at the Pepsi Center in Denver. AFA may surprise some people, but I don’t expect them to make a leap into the top half of the conference standings. 


  1. Wyoming – Basically all the Cowboys have going for themselves is Hunter Maldonado. Beyond that, the only thing Wyoming has to look forward to this basketball season is a frigid winter. 


  1. Colorado State- CSU lost 8 players to transfer in the offseason. They won’t be SJSU bad because of Nico Carvacho, but it’s still going to be bad.  


  1. San Jose State-  The Spartans are the worst team in D1 men’s basketball. That won’t change anytime soon. 


All MWC 1st Team

  • Malachi Flynn- SDSU
  • Sam Merril- Utah State
  • Lavelle Scottie- AFA
  • Donnie Tillman- UNLV
  • Nico Carvacho- Colorado State 


All MWC 2nd Team

  • Amauri Hardy- UNLV
  • Justinian Jessup- Boise State
  • Vance Jackson- New Mexico
  • Sam Mitchell- SDSU
  • Nate Grimes- Fresno State


MWC Player of the Year – Sam Merrill Utah State


MWC Newcomer of the Year – Donnie Tillman UNLV

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