2020-21 Mountain West basketball preview

There’s always one team in Mountain West basketball that likes to crash the party. Two years ago, Nevada was supposed to control the entire conference, but Utah State got a share of the regular season title and then won the tournament. Last year was Utah State’s turn to run the conference. Not only did San Diego State win the Mountain West outright, it was a top-10 team for the final 10 weeks. Now it’s really anyone’s conference. Malachi Flynn is gone at San Diego State. Sam Merrill used up his eligibility at Utah State. New Mexico’s experiment of all the former top-100 recruit transfers are all gone as well. No team has all five returning starters from last season.

San Diego State is still a favorite among a lot of people. They like what they saw last season and figure it’ll rub off on the guys that are returning. Matt Mitchell and Jordan Schakel return from last season’s starting lineup. Nathan Mensah was a starter before he was lost for the season. Terell Gomez comes over from Cal State Northridge where he scored almost 20 points per game and hit over 100 3-pointers in back-to-back seasons.

My guy Neemias Queta returns for his junior year at Utah State. Justin Bean and Brock Miller are very reliable guards for the Aggies. Bean will have to run point guard at six-foot-seven and his over 10 boards per game from last season will go down. If Queta stays healthy, he’ll average a double-double. And Miller has potential to hit almost 100 3-pointers.

Boise State’s Derrick Alston will compete with Queta for Player of the Year in the Mountain West. Colorado State and UNLV have a nice balance of players. Nevada will have a group of people making a case why the Wolf Pack are still a top-three team in the Mountain West. Out of all those teams, the Broncos are my favorite. Not only is Alston very underrated, they are returning a great role player in Abu Kigab. Boise State has four great transfers coming in with two of them being former top-100 recruits.

Preseason predictions

1 Utah State
2 Boise State
4 San Diego State
5 Colorado State
6 Nevada
7 Fresno State
8 Air Force
9 New Mexico
10 San Jose State
11 Wyoming

First team

G Derrick Alston, Boise State
G Hunter Maldonado, Wyoming
F Matt Mitchell, San Diego State
F Justin Bean, Utah State
C Neemias Queta, Utah State

Second team

G Jordan Shakel, San Diego State
G Brock Miller, Utah State
G Emmanuel Akot, Boise State
Wing Bryce Hamilton, UNLV
F Orlando Robinson, Boise State

Third team

G Terrell Gomez, San Diego State
G Desmond Cambridge, Nevada
G David Jenkins, UNLV
F Abu Kigab, Boise State
F Cheikh Mbacke Diong, UNLV

Player of the Year

Neemias Queta, C, Utah State

Photo courtesy of BroncoSports.com

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