This group is extremely unknown and very top heavy so I combined freshmen and sophomores for the upcoming season. Special thanks to Kevin McMarthy who helped fill in some gaps. There just wasn't the buzz for the young guys this year so the top flight players are no-brainers with the last three as underrated guys who broke through as last year went on. I expect this year's freshman class will do the same.
Top flight uderclassmen
Luke Babbitt, Nevada sophomore forward — Who knows how much longer we will get to watch Babbitt play in the WAC. At 6-9, he does everything well and is Nevada's go-to player so he could improve on his 16.9 (third in the WAC) and 7.4 boards (third in the WAC) that he put up as a freshman. Babbitt also shoots 45 percent from the field and 43 percent from 3-point land to become the first freshman at the school to lead the team in scoring and rebounding. All of this landed him on the first team All WAC,as well as the Newcomer team.
Troy Gillenwater, New Mexico State sophomore forward — Arguably the most skilled player on the NMSU roster, Gillenwater could also be the most frustrating. Had a run-in with head coach Marvin Menzies in San Jose last year that landed him on the bench. If he plays and Wendell McKines can't, Gillenwater will get all of the minutes he can handle. When he's focused, Gillenwater can score around the basket (12.1 ppg and 51 percent from the floor), knock down the 3 (8-of-29), put the ball on the floor and if he plays the 3 or 4, he defends well (second on the Aggies with 39 blocked shots). Will need to improve on his 4.3 rebounds this year.
Paul George, Fresno State sophomore forward — NBAdraft.net had the 6--8, 210-pound forward listed as a lottery pick in next year's draft. George has a fluid game, shooting 47 percent from the floor and 45 percent from long range. Can also get to the basket and posted 6.2 boards per game, which tied for ninth as a freshman last year.
Hernst Laroche, New Mexico State sophomore guard — Laroche was the biggest surprise to me last year on the Aggies. He proved to be a steal and provided the stability at the point that the Aggies haven't really had since Menzies took over. Laroche was second in assist-to-turnover ratio last year and always seemed to make the right play. He was fourth in the WAC with 4.34 assists per game
Mike Ladd, Fresno State sophomore guard — Started 15 games in the Fresno State backcourt last year but that number should increase with the departure of fellow soph Bryce Cartwright in the offseason. All of the Bulldogs can shoot. Ladd was fourth on the team with 9.5 points per game last year.
Hamidu Rahman, New Mexico State sophomore center — Word is that Rahman has added some muscle to his 6-11 frame. He started 27 games last year and with the departure of Chris Gabriel, the center position is all his when the Aggies use a center. Needs to improve on the boards though.
Also worth noting
Utah State guard Jaxon Myaer showed that he could knock down shots last year before giving way to Jared Quayle. USU freshman forward Tyrone White is expected to play right away. The 6-6 White put up 16 and 8 at Air Force Prep last year.
Fresno State added a local player in 6-10, 250-pound freshman center Greg Smith, who doesn't appear to have much competition for playing time if Steve Cleveland wants to go big.
At 6-7 Idaho freshman forward Corey Stern from Rainier Beach in Seattle could provide some depth for the Vandals.
Nevada added a couple of international freshmen to add depth in the backcourt and the frontcourt. 6-6 Patrick Nyeko is from Seattle Prep via London. Power forward Marko Cukic is from Serbia and at 6-9, 235, he could add some muscle inside for a Wolf Pack team that seems undersized.
Da'Shawn Gomez should contribute this year as a backup to Laroche and 6-8 freshman B.J. West could get some minutes before Gillenwater returns. Tyrone Watson is another frontcourt player who sat out last year and everyone seems to be excited about Bandja Sy's versatile game at 6-8
Chris Jones is a 6-4, 205 freshman guard at San Jose State. He is a scorer who can play either guard spot