The Mountain West has snuck up on a lot of people and has been consistently (and quietly) producing some very good programs and the past few years. The depth might not be there yet, with two teams projected to earn tournament bids, but it is certainly on the rise.
San Diego State
In a way not dissimilar to Ohio St., the Aztecs have endured major losses the last three seasons in Kawhi Leonard, Jamaal Franklin, and now Xavier Thames. The next man up is small forward junior Winston Shepard. At 6’8, he projects to lead the team in points, rebounds, AND assists. Coach Steve Fisher loves his versatility and Shepard will be the driving force behind a season filled with potential for SDSU. 6’7 seniors Dwayne Polee and JJ O’Brein will be tasked with hauling in rebounds and providing secondary scoring, while freshman Trey Kell is a major x-factor in this team making a deep tournament run come March.
After having an extremely disappointing 2013 missing the tournament AND NIT, the Runnin’ Rebels look to rebound, boasting the 5th-best recruiting class in the nation, led by top-15 recruits Rashad Vaughn and Dwayne Morgan. UNLV will rely heavily on the 6’5 Vaughn, needing instant perimeter scoring. Transfer Cody Coolin will also have to make an early impact at point guard.
First Team All-Mountain West
G Anthony Drmic, Senior, Boise St.
G Derrick Marks, Senior, Boise St.
F Winston Shepard, Junior, SDSU
F JJ Avila, Senior, Colorado St.
F Larry Nance Jr., Senior, Wyoming