2017-18 Men's Basketball Preseason Prospectus

Aug. 7, 2017


2017-18 Men's Basketball Prospectus Get Acrobat Reader

* San Diego State begins the Brian Dutcher era in 2017-18, as the long-time associate head coach/head coach in waiting takes over for two-time national coach of the year Steve Fisher, who retired in April after 18 seasons at SDSU.

* Dutcher, who has been a part of every San Diego State victory over the last 18 seasons (386) and every win of Fisher’s career (570), inherits a roster that features three returning starters in senior guard Trey Kell, junior guard Jeremy Hemsley and senior forward Malik Pope. Kell was an all-Mountain West third-team selection by the coaches and the media in 2016-17, and Hemsley picked up honorable mention accolades from the league’s head coaches.

* Kell, Hemsley and Pope enter the new campaign with the top three scoring averages from a year ago. Kell averaged a team-best 13.2 points with Hemsley just a tick behind at 12.9 points an outing. Pope improved his scoring average from 7.3 points as a sophomore in 2015-16 to 11.0 points in ‘16-17. All three efforts were career bests for the trio.

* The aforementioned threesome also returns with the top three assist averages from 2016-17. Kell led the way with 2.9 assists per game, Hemsley finished at 2.1 and Pope was at 1.5. Similar to their scoring averages, their assist averages were career highs.

* Returning for their junior campaigns are a pair of Division I transfers who sat out 2014-15 and saw their first action with the Aztecs last season in forward Max Hoetzel and guard Montaque Gill-Caesar. Both missed time in 2016-17 due to injury, but they each saw time in the starting lineup. Hoetzel started 10 of 29 games, made 52 three-pointers (1.8 3FG/g) and averaged 7.7 points and 3.8 rebounds. Gill-Caesar, meanwhile, started twice in 26 games and despite only averaging 3.3 points, he showed flashes of being able to score points in bunches (12 points in 19 minutes vs. Savannah State; 12 points in 12 minutes vs. Wyoming).

* SDSU’s top scorer in 2017-18 may be a player who has yet to play one minute for the Aztecs. Junior transfer guard Devin Watson is eligible after sitting out last season after playing his first two campaigns at San Francisco. As a sophomore in 2015-16, Watson led the Dons with a career-high 20.3 points (65 3FGM), career-high 4.9 assists and 27 steals, which would rank second to Kell’s 45 steals among returners.

* Redshirt freshman forward Jalen McDaniels, who was a four-star signee in November of 2015, will make his debut in an Aztec uniform this season. The Federal Way, Washington native finished his senior season at Federal Way High (29-0; back-to-back Class 4A state champions) ranked No. 98 on the Rivals 150 list and then received preseason Mountain West Co-Freshman-of-the-Year honors before deciding to redshirt the 2016-17 campaign. Over the last year, he has added muscle to his true freshman listing of 6-9, 190.

* Sharing the frontcourt with Pope, Hoetzel and McDaniels is another returner in redshirt sophomore Nolan Narain. The 6-9, 200-pound forward saw limited action (nine games) in ‘16-17, but is able to stretch the floor like aforementioned trio and has an array of low-post moves.

* New the program are true freshman guards Jordan Schakel and Adam Seiko, and sophomore transfer guard Patrick Fisher. Schakel is a four-star wing, according to ESPN, and led his high school team, Bishop Montgomery, to the CIF State Open Division title as senior. Along the way, he defeated Seiko’s top-seeded Sierra Canyon team in the CIF Southern Section Open Division semifinals. Seiko is a three-star guard, according to Rivals and 247sports. Fisher, meanwhile, will sit out 2017-18 after transferring from Winthrop.

* SDSU’s returning leaders: Scoring - Trey Kell (13.2), Rebounding - Malik Pope (6.1), Assists - Trey Kell (2.9), Blocked Shots - Malik Pope (1.0), Steals - Trey Kell (1.4), Three-Point Field Goals - Jeremy Hemsley and Max Hoetzel (1.8), Minutes Played - Trey Kell (31.8).

* The Aztecs finished last year with a 19-14 record and a 9-9 effort in the Mountain West. SDSU posted its 12th straight season with at least 19 victories despite losing 28 games due to injury, including nine from Pope. In all, San Diego State lost 24 games due to injury from players who started at least one game during the season.

* Another factor in SDSU’s final record was its performance in games decided by eight points or less. The Aztecs were 2-11 in those games after being really good in the close ones. Prior to 2016-17, San Diego State was 50-22 in its previous 72 games that were decided by six points or less or in overtime.

* Between the injuries and the inability to win the close games in 2016-17, KenPom rated San Diego State as the ninth unluckiest team in the nation. Of the bottom nine, only one other school had a winning record.

* SDSU once again was one of the top defensive teams in the nation. A year after ranking in the top 10 in field-goal percentage defense (1st), scoring defense (3rd) and blocked shots per game (10th), the Aztecs completed 2016-17 ranked in the top 25 in all three of those categories (8th in field-goal percentage defense (.388), 15th in scoring defense (62.5), 24th in blocked shots per game (5.0)).

* Among its peers in the Mountain West, San Diego State finished first in conference games only in points allowed (63.2), field-goal percentage defense (.385) and blocked shots (4.8). The Scarlet and Black also finished in second in steals (6.8). In all games, San Diego State finished first in scoring defense (62.5) and field-goal percentage defense (.388).

* San Diego State enters the new year having won at least 20 games and advanced to the postseason in 11 of the last 12 years (seven NCAAs, four NITs). In the last 12 seasons, the Aztecs have averaged 25.4 victories.

* The Aztecs have won Mountain West regular-season crown (outright or shared) five times in the last seven years.

* San Diego State has been one of the elite programs in the nation since the start of the 2010-11 season, posting a cumulative record of 188-60. SDSU’s .758 winning percentage is the 10th-best nationally over the last seven years (complete list is on page 1).

* The Aztecs will feature a 2017-18 active roster that will have a total of 455 games (250 starts) under their collective belt, which is more than the program’s 2014 NCAA Sweet 16 squad. The 2013-14 team boasted 450 career Division I outings at the start of that campaign.

* San Diego State is set to return 63.4 percent of its scoring, 54.6 percent of its rebounding, 60.0 percent of its assists, 34.1 percent of its blocked shots, 49.3 percent of its steals, and 73.8 percent of its three-point field goals from last season.

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