First a couple of notes. Remember this name for 2013, Rene Esparza, a 6-3 combo guard from Faith Christian in El Paso. Esparza was in Las Cruces this week, but hasn't been offered and the visit wasn't official. He reportedly has interest from Idaho State and Texas-Arlington.
"From out West, is 6-foot-3 wing, Rene Esparza (El Paso Faith Christian). Esparza is a versatile player that handles the ball in pressure situations. He has good court vision, nice passing ability, and is skilled on the perimeter."
Esparza's teammate, 6-10 center Ray Barreno verbally committed to Tulane earlier this month.
The Aggies have their super duper secret scrimmage at Utah Valley University on Saturday. This is the second straight year the teams have scrimmaged as the future WAC member came to Las Cruces last year. Here is Utah Valley's roster. UVU went 19-13 last year and 9-1 in its third year in the Great West. They have a number of players returning from last year, including leading scorer, senior guard Isiah Williams. Coach Dick Hunsaker has built the team as it went from JC to Independent to Great West and now into the WAC.
Preseason polls for the WAC will be released on Wednesday. This is what I went with. What do you think? I feel good about the top 6, but it gets sketchy after that.
1. Utah State (I don't think this is a slam dunk pick. I look at Utah State and I have some of the same questions I have about the Aggies. They have two projected big men including transfer Jarred Shaw (Oklahoma State), who if he is productive would certainly be an upgrade from the five spot. But like NMSU's bigs, we don't know what to expect when the lights come on. Utah State also has always had a point guard that ran the show. This year it could be a freshman by the end of the season in Utah product Marcel Davis. The Aggies also have JC transfer TeNale Roland.
2. New Mexico State
3. Idaho (This pick hinges on center Kyle Barone, who is currently suspended after a DUI last week)
4. Denver (Most talked about newcomer but they went 11-5 in the Sun Belt last year.)
5. Louisiana Tech (I love this team's guards, but they rely heavily on the long ball)
6. Texas - Arlington (Arlington would have been a tournament team last year after going 15-1 in the Southland, if not for getting tripped up in the conference tourney.
7. Texas-San Antonio
8. San Jose State
10. Texas State
Preseason Player of the Year — Preston Medlin, Utah State
Daniel Mullings, New Mexico State
Raheem Appleby, Louisiana Tech
Kyle Barone, Idaho
Chris Udofia, Denver
Newcomer of the Year — Sim Bhullar, New Mexico State