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SCS.com
MID-MAJORS, PART III
November 3, 2005

SCS.com Hoops Preview '05 Home

Within this preview:
Southern | Sun Belt | West Coast | WAC

SOUTHERN CONFERENCE PREVIEW

LEAGUE OVERVIEW

SCS.com The Southern Conference was home to the lone undefeated-in-conference team in Division 1 a season ago. Davidson went 16-0 during conference play, then proceeded to lose to Chattanooga in the conference tournament. They wasted a perfect season and ended up going to the NIT. UT-Chattanooga beat UNC-Greensboro in the conference championship to go to the NCAA Tournament. They gave Wake Forest a nice run in the first round, but lost steam in the second half and lost. The league is going to be home to a host of good teams, although a familiar face should be atop the standings at the end of the regular season. As last year proved, however, the conference tournament is a different story. Davidson probably won't go undefeated in the regular season again, but they return enough to make the NCAA Tournament. Player of the Year Brendan Winters leads the way. He is an excellent shooter and scorer, and can dominate a game if he needs to. Winters is one of the most underrated players in the country. The rest of the perimeter has a multitude of options. Kenny Grant averaged almost six assists per game and is one of the best point guards in the conference. Matt McKillop is a good shooter that provides solid all-around play. Sixth man Jason Morton averaged double figures off the bench for the Wildcats. Up front, Ian Johnson will shoulder the load. He didn't start last season, but he could have a huge year in the lineup. The job next to him is up for grabs. Returnees Boris Meno and Thomas Sander and newcomers Stephen Rossiter and Andrew Lovedale will fight for the spot.

Chattanooga is looking to repeat their NCAA Tournament appearance from a season ago. Their backcourt is deep and balanced. Casey Long is a good scorer and shooter on the wing, while Steve Cherry also returns as a starter. Ricky Hood provides a little bit of everything, and Jerice Crouch is a decent point guard. Newcomers Kedric Mayes and Jaycen Herring will make impacts on the perimeter. Up front, Alphonso Pugh could be an all-conference player if he plays to his potential. Charles Anderson returns as a starter who improved as the season went on, while Matt Malone will provide depth. UNC-Greensboro returns the league's best duo in guard Ricky Hickman and forward Kyle Hines. Hickman is an excellent scorer that will boost his scoring average this season, while Hines is a dominant post player. He is a top notch rebounder and shot blocker. The supporting cast could use some work, though. Guards Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Oleksiak are decent, but have to improve their shooting. Forwards Brian Beckford and Dustin Everette will take on more of a role, while freshman David McClenny is expected to make an immediate impact down low. Furman may have the most offensive talent in the league, giving them a legitimate chance to make a run at the league title. The backcourt trio of Tony Carter, Robby Bostain, and Eric Webb all averaged at least nine points per game and complement each other's games very well. Carter is a quick guard that is a decent scorer and passer; Bostain is the best long-range shooter on the team, in addition to being a good defender and assist man; and Webb is a very good shooter and distributor. Wing Gerad Punch also sees plenty of playing time. Up front, Moussa Diagne returns. He could be an all-conference player by the end of the season if he progresses the way he should. He's tough to stop down low. Redshirt newcomer Stan Jones could start next to Diagne, while several other players will vie for time in the froncourt. Georgia Southern has the best scorer in the conference in Elton Nesbitt. He is explosive on the offensive end and had up to 43 points and 11 three pointers in a game. The 5-9 guard is difficult to stop, but he is also a very good defender. His partner in the backcourt is Donte Gennie, a combo guard capable of running the team. He is a decent scorer and passer. Anthony Marshall and Dwayne Foreman will also see time on the perimeter. Up front, Louis Graham could have a huge year after coming off the bench a season ago. Willie Dunn and Sean Olivier return as frontcourt contributors. JC transfer Lafayette Lofton will also make an impact.

College of Charleston loses the bulk of their team, but the Cougars return a talented cast of players. The backcourt of Dontaye Draper and Drew Hall is very good, and is one of the best in the conference. Draper came off the bench last season, but was one of the best all-around players in the SoCon. Hall takes excellent care of the ball, and is a solid point guard. Richmond transfer Jose Garcia should help on the wing. In the frontcourt, Josh Jackson could have a breakout year, while Virginia Tech transfer Philip McCandies might start down low. Returnees J.R. Hairston and Jermaine Johnson and JC transfers Renardo Dickerson and David Lawrence will also get time up front. Appalachian State returns numerous players that had contributions a season ago, led by all-conference performer D.J. Thompson. He is tough to stop when he has the ball, and is also a good defender. The 5-8 point guard was one of the best passers in the league and can shoot well from deep. Nathan Cranford, a good shooter, and Demetrius Scott, a tough defender, will also start on the perimeter with Thompson. 6-3 Derek Thomas could get a starting job due to his athleticism. The inside spots are up for grabs. Jeremy Clayton should get one of them. He is a good all-around post player. Douglas McLaughlin-Williams and Lennox Marshall will get chances to start, as well. Elon has one of the best --albeit one of the most underrated-- players in the conference in post man Jackson Atoeybi. He went down with an injury in the fourth game of the season, effectively ending the Pheonix's chance of making any noise in the SoCon. The rest of the inside game isn't too shabby, either. Chris Chalko is a good low-post option, while Colin Wyatt and Rasmi Gamble also contributed last season. On the perimeter, Brian Waters and Scottie Rice are good scorers and Le'Vonn Jordan is a nice inside-outside player. Western Carolina has one of the best big men in the conference in center David Berghoefer. He can dominate a game from the low block. Joining him in the frountcourt is Cory Muirhead, a solid scorer and rebounder. A trio of good perimeter players all return in Kyle Greathouse, Trey Hopkins and Antonio Russell. Hopkins could develop into a go-to-guy in the backcourt. Wofford has an all-conference candidate in forward Howard Wilkerson. Wilkerson went down with an injury in January, but should be healthy. He is a near-impossible match-up for the defense. Tyler Berg is his partner down low, and proved he can be a go-to-guy as well. Eric Marshall is an excellent shooter on the wing, while Drew Gibson and Byron Fields are a decent duo at the point. Former MAAC Freshman of the Year Shane Nichols, a St. Peter's transfer, will have an impact on the perimeter. The Citadel has a nice returning group of players. The brother duo of Warren and Donny McLendon lead the way. Forward Warren is a very good inside-outside player that should be all-conference at the end of the season. Guard Donny is a good scorer. Donny's backcourt mate, Kevin Hammack, is a very good point guard. He takes good care of the ball and is a good distributor. Forwards J'mel Everhart and Matt Davis are very solid contributors for the Bulldogs.

PROJECTED STANDINGS

North Division
(1) Chattanooga
(2) UNC-Greensboro
(3) Appalachian State
(4) Elon
(5) Western Carolina
South Division
(1) Davidson
(2) Furman
(3) Georgia Southern
(4) College of Charleston
(5) Wofford
(6) The Citadel

ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM

G - Elton Nesbitt - Senior, Georgia Southern
G/F - Brendan Winters - Senior, Davidson
F - Jackson Atoyebi - Senior, Elon
F - Kyle Hines - Sophomore, UNC-Greensboro
C - David Berghoefer - Senior, Western Carolina
Player of the Year: Brendan Winters, Davidson

HERE AND THERE

Best Coach: Bob McKillop, Davidson
Most Likely to Overachieve: College of Charleston
Most Likely to Underachieve: Elon
Most Underrated Player: Jackson Etoyebi, F, Elon
Most Overrated Player: Warren McLendon,F, The Citadel

POSTSEASON PROJECTIONS

NCAA: Davidson
NIT: Furman, Chattanooga

SUN BELT CONFERENCE PREVIEW

LEAGUE OVERVIEW

SCS.com The regular season in the Sun Belt Conference last season went down to the final weeks, and Denver ended up with a one game lead over UL-Lafayette, and a two-game lead over Arkansas Little-Rock. The conference tournament came down to UL-Lafayette winning the title game, and then giving Louisville all they could take in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before falling. Western Kentucky and Denver went to the NIT. Overall, the league was a very underrated conference in which several teams had a chance to win on any given night. It should be more of the same this season. Western Kentucky returns plenty of talent from a team that made it to the second round of the NIT. Anthony Winchester is one of the best mid-major wings in the country, shooting over 45 percent from beyond the arc. He also put up over 18 points and 7 rebounds. His partner on the wing is all-conference candidate Courtney Lee, who is a very good shooter and scorer. Ty Rogers is also decent on the perimeter. At the point will be two newcomers, Orlando Mendez and Joemal Campbell. Up front, Elgrace Wilborn could blossom into a dominant post player. Junior forward Boris Siakam and Daniel Emerson and Mike Walker, who have no collegiate experience, will also help in the frontcourt. Denver is home to the best player in the conference in center Yemi Nicholson. He is a load to stop in the post, and is an excellent shot blocker as well. He will carry the Pioneers. Forward Antonio Porch combines with Nicholson to give Denver the best frontcourt in the league. He is an all-league candidate. Depth needs to be found behind the two baseline players. On the perimeter, Andrew Carpenter leads the way. He is a good defender and all-around performer. Redshirt junior Alex Cox is expected to start at the point, while Brett Seger and DaShawn Walker will compete for the final starting spot.

Louisiana-Lafayette return three players that they weren't expected to have this season. Guard Dwayne Mitchell was granted another year by the NCAA, and he should be an all-Sun Belt performer. 6-11 Chris Cameron, a perimeter threat as a big man, received an extra year due to academics. 6-11 center Michael Southall hasn't played in two seasons due to off-the-court problems. He is a potentially dominant post player. Wings Spencer Ford and Lucian Graham are the frontrunners to get the two available jobs in the starting lineup. New Orleans returns the best scoring guard in the conference in Bo McCalebb. He is explosive off the dribble and is near-impossible to defend. Four other starters also come back for the Privateers. Wings Chad Barnes and James Parlow are good shooters and scorers on the perimeter. James McNeilly also returns in the backcourt. He could have a breakout season in the starting lineup. Inside, Ben Elias and Shawn Malloy are back. Malloy could be a 12 and 9 guy every night out, while Elias is a big body down low. Nathaniel Parker and Jacob Manning provide depth. Florida International has the best forward tandem in the conference, including one of the better power forwards you've never heard of in Ivan Almonte. His partner up front is Ismael N'Diaye. Almonte averaged a double double a season ago, and should repeat his first-team all-conference status. N'Diaye is a solid scorer, rebounder, and defender. Kenny Simms also returns up front. In the backcourt, point guard Jayce Lewis returns as the starter, but St. Francis (NY) transfer John Quintana and Alan Guyton will push him for that spot. Cesar Chavez-Jacobo could start on the wing. Arkansas State returns a slew of talented players, but it is the addition of two newcomers in the backcourt that will bolster the Indians. Junior college teammates Elvin Jones and Korrel Henderson are expected to either start or see extended playing time immediately. Returning point guard Dereke Tipler is a good defender and very solid distributor that averaged over 5 assists per game. 6-6 wing Jerry Nichols was nearly a double figure scorer, while Lorenzo Hampton is a decent option. In the frontcourt, all-conference candidate Kitus Witherspoon could have a breakout season. He is an excellent rebounder. Isaac Wells and Marcus Ardison also return after posting good numbers a season ago. South Alabama has an abundance of quality players up and down the roster, led by all-conference choice Mario Jointer. He can do everything on the court. Jeff Collins returns on the wing after posting decent offensive numbers last season. Point guards Steven Cowherd and Carlos Smith will run the team, but need a better assist to turnover ratio from both of them. Transfers Chey Christie (Clemson) and Demetric Bennett (SMU) are expected to make immediate impacts. Christie will form a very good wing duo with Jointer. In the frontcourt, forwards Michael Phillips and Richard Law are solid scorers and rebounders, while JC transfer Jason McGriff should make an impact down low.

Middle Tennessee returns a solid trio in guard Fats Cuyler, wing Michael Morrison, and big man Kyle Young. Cuyler is a good shooter and passer, while Morrison could develop into a star in the Sun Belt. Young provides a big body down low. Several newcomers will need to step in and play significant minutes immediately. Forwards Tim Blue and Brian Lake (injured last season after six games) and guards Bud Howard, Kevin Kanaskie, and Calvin O'Neil will see time right away. Arkansas Little-Rock returns Zack Wright as the lone player that was in the main playing rotation. He is going to be the go-to-guy. Jarryd Knight and several newcomers will get the majority of the minutes on the perimeter. Up front, Rashad Jones-Jennings and Byron Ray are two JC transfers that should step up and have a significant impact. North Texas has a bevy of perimeter players leading the way. Calvin Watson could develop into an all-conference-type player, while Isaac Hines lead the team in rebounding, assists, and steals from his point guard position. Michael Sturns also returns on the wing, but Arkansas transfer Kendrick Davis will start. He can do everything and play any perimeter position. Post players Jeffrey Simpson and Justin Barnett are above average performers down low when they are healthy. Both should improve their numbers this season. Quincy Williams returns at forward. Troy has one of the best all-around guards in the league in Bobby Dixon. He was a very good shooter that also put up numbers across the board. His backcourt mate is Jacob Hazouri, who returns is a starter. He is a decent shooter but doesn't venture into the lane that often. Newcomers are going to fill out the rest of the starting lineup. Boo Ramsey and Josh Williams should see minutes on the perimeter. Sammy Sharp, Todd Martin, and C.J. Jackson will get long looks up front, although returnees Richard Damous and Jarvis Acker are solid players.

PROJECTED STANDINGS

East Division
(1) Western Kentucky
(2) Florida International
(3) Arkansas State
(4) Middle Tennessee
(5) Arkansas-Little Rock
West Division
(1) Denver
(2) Louisiana-Lafayette
(3) South Alabama
(4) New Orleans
(5) North Texas
(6) Troy

ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM

G - Bo McCalebb - Junior, New Orleans
G - Anthony Winchester - Senior, Western Kentucky
G - Mario Jointer - Senior, School
F - Ivan Almonte - Senior, Florida International
C - Yemi Nicholson - Senior, Denver
Player of the Year: Yemi Nicholson, Denver

HERE AND THERE

Best Coach: Don Maestri, Troy
Most Likely to Overachieve: Middle Tennessee
Most Likely to Underachieve: South Alabama
Most Underrated Player: Bobby Dixon, G, Troy
Most Overrated Player: Chris Cameron, F, Louisiana-Lafayette

POSTSEASON PROJECTIONS

NCAA: Western Kentucky
NIT: Denver, South Alabama, Louisiana-Lafayette

WEST COAST CONFERENCE PREVIEW

LEAGUE OVERVIEW

SCS.com The West Coast Conference had an underrated regular season title race last season. Everyone knew about Gonzaga, but St. Mary's only finished one game back of them and split their regular season meetings. The rubber match occurred in the conference tournament, which Gonzaga won. In the NCAA Tournament, St. Mary's lost in the first round to Southern Illinois, while Gonzaga had another classic underachieving postseason, and was bounced in the second round by Texas Tech. A familiar face is at the top of the league again this season, while there is not another team that seems ready to take the potential second bid for the WCC. Gonzaga is the obvious frontrunner to win the league. They are a potential Final Four squad and are a near-consensus top six or seven team in the country. First-team All-American Adam Morrison leads the way. He has the best mid-range game that has come through the college ranks in years. He is not a great three-point shooter, but he has unbelievable scoring talent. Point guard Derek Raivio is one of the best point guards in the country, yet he is underrated and overshadowed by Morrison and co. He is a very good distributor and an excellent three-point shooter. His backcourt partner is Erroll Knight, a lockdown defender. He uses his athleticism to finish in transition and grab rebounds. Down low is all-conference candidate JP Batista. He is a load to stop on the low block, and can develop into one of the better back-to-the-basket players in the country. Returnee Sean Mallon, who lost his starting job midway through last season, and freshman Josh Heytvelt will battle for the power forward position. A glut of guards provide depth on the perimeter, including returnees David Pendergraft, Pierre Marie Altidor-Cespedes, Nathan Doudney and freshman Jeremy Pargo.

Portland had a disappointing seventh place finish last season, but could make some noise this season. Pooh Jeter is an all-conference performer, and can carry the Pilots due to his versatile offensive game. Darren Cooper could develop into an all-WCC player by the end of the season. He and Jeter form one of the conference's best backcourts. Donald Wilson returns on the wing, and is a good defender. 5-6 Jeremiah Dominguez provides depth. Up front, Marcus Lewis could have a huge year in the starting five after coming off the bench last season. 6-10 Ben Sullivan is a good low-post player, while Oregon State transfer Kevin Field could push for a starting job. St. Mary's has the league's second best player in forward Daniel Kickert. He is one of the best inside-outside players in the country, with his ability to score in the post and shoot the three. Not much else returns, though. Two seven-footers should hold down the center position. Reda Rhalimi saw increased minutes down the stretch, and Blake Sholberg is a good defender. Several newcomers are expected to make an impact in the backcourt. Wayne Hunter will start at the point, while UNLV transfer John Winston will compete for minutes. Returning junior Brett Collins is a good scorer who will start on the wing. San Diego loses a couple of very good forwards, but returns center Nick Lewis. He can shoot the three with the touch of a guard, and should be able to score some points down low this season. Michael Shepherd will join him in the frontcourt. The perimeter group is deep and talented. Floyd North is a good scorer and could have a big year in the points department. Michael Hubbard also returns on the wing. Corey Belser is one of the better defenders in the country, and can lock down some of the best players in the league. Freshman Brandon Johnson is expected to start at the point. San Francisco lost three starters, including two all-conference caliber players. They still have a good backcourt in hand, however. Jerome Gumbs could have a huge year on the wing. He is an athletic player that will be the unquestioned leader of the team. Next to him will be Miami transfer Armando Surratt, who started for two years with the Hurricanes before transferring. He is an excellent distibutor and is very quick. Johnny Dukes should get the nod at small forward. Down low, returning starter Alan Wiggins is a solid scorer and rebounder, while Northern Iowa transfer Vince Polakovic and senior Jason Carter will also play lots of minutes in the paint.

Loyola Marymount would have been a legit sleeper pick in this conference had their best player, Matthew Knight, not tore his ACL in the summer. He is gone for the season. With him out, athletic forwards Daryl Pegram and Dustin Brown will have to take on bigger roles up front. John Haywood and Chris Ayer will also see more minutes. That quartet is going to have to step up their production this season after being role players a year ago. In the backcourt, Brandon Worthy, an all-conference candidate, is back. He is a solid all-around player that can score and distribute. Wes Wardrop joins him on the perimeter. He is a very good defender and shooter. Damian Martin played well at the point a year ago, while wings Adoyah Evans-Miller and Jon Ziri will also play major roles. Santa Clara has an all-WCC player in forward Travis Niesen. He is the Broncos' go-to-guy that is also a very tough competitor. Forward Tristan Parham and center Sean Denison will start beside Niesen on the baseline. Denison is a big body in the middle, while Parham is a versatile and effective player. Brody Angley returns in the backcourt after starting 22 games a season ago. He is a decent distributor that should improve his production with more minutes. Brandon Rohe will start on the wing after missing last season with a back injury. Several newcomers will provide depth. Pepperdine loses their top three players from last season, and they all just happened to be studs in the frontcourt. The backcourt should be in good hands, however. 5-7 Kingsley Costain is a good shooter and can run the team well. Marvin Lea and Chase Griffin will also see time in the backcourt. Freshman Gregg Barlow could see immediate time at the 2-guard. He is a very good scorer. In the frontcourt, 7-foot Russell Hicks will lead the way. He is an excellent shot blocker, and could become one of the best big men in the conference. Jarrad Henry and Derick Grubb will need to step their production up from last season.

PROJECTED STANDINGS

(1) Gonzaga
(2) Portland
(3) St. Mary's
(4) San Diego
(5) San Francisco
(6) Loyola Marymount
(7) Santa Clara
(8) Pepperdine

ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM

G - Derek Raivio - Junior, Gonzaga
G - Pooh Jeter - Senior, Portland
F - Adam Morrison - Junior, Gonzaga
F - Daniel Kickert - Senior, St. Mary's
C - JP Batista - Senior, Gonzaga
Player of the Year: Adam Morrison, F, Gonzaga

HERE AND THERE

Best Coach: Mark Few, Gonzaga
Most Likely to Overachieve: Santa Clara
Most Likely to Underachieve: Portland
Most Underrated Player: Nick Lewis, F, San Diego
Most Overrated Player: Erroll Knight, G, Gonzaga

POSTSEASON PROJECTIONS

NCAA: Gonzaga
NIT: Portland, St. Mary's

WAC CONFERENCE PREVIEW

LEAGUE OVERVIEW

SCS.com The Western Athletic Conference was a close race last season until Nevada won their last 10 games of the season to clinch the regular season title. UTEP was neck and neck most of the way, while Rice went 12-6 to finish four games back of Nevada. The conference tournament was won by UTEP and Nevada received an at-large bid. UTEP lost to Utah in the first round in a game that went down to the wire, while Nevada defeated Texas in the first round and fell to Illinois in the second round. UTEP and Rice are not in the league anymore, while Big West power Utah State is now in the WAC. It should be a new look to the WAC, but a familiar face will be atop the standings. Nevada is a legit Top 25 candidate this season and is easily one of the Top 3 non-BCS teams in the country. One of the best players in the country, Nick Fazekas, leads the way. He averaged over 20 points and 9 rebounds last season, and dominated the WAC. However, he needs to play stronger against the tougher frontlines that he faces. Alongside him in the frontcourt is Mo Charlo, an athletic 6-7 forward. He could have a huge year. Center Chad Bell could be a near-dominant player given his size and skill. However, he hasn't played to his potential yet. In the backcourt is the WAC's best point guard in Ramon Sessions. He is an excellent distributor that can also score the ball. On the wing, Marcellus Kemp is back from a year missed due to injury. He is a solid all-around player. Kyle Shiloh started every game a season ago, and is a decent scorer.

Utah State is new to the WAC, but should have the same sort of success it enjoyed in the Big West. They have potentially the best inside-outside combo in the league in guard Jaycee Carroll and forward Nate Harris. Carroll is a very good scorer and an excellent shooter. Even though he needs to round out his game a bit more, Carroll is one of the best guards in the league. Harris should be a first-team all-conference player. He is a well-round performer that is extremely efficient on the interior. The supporting cast is impressive, as well. Guard David Pak is a solid point guard that gets the ball to the right places. Chris Huber will also see time in the backcourt. Forward Cass Matheus is a productive player that will need to play bigger against the tougher competition. Several newcomers will fill in the holes. Hawaii has an excellent duo that can carry the team if they play to their potential. Forward Julian Sensley might be the most talented player in the league, but he hasn't demonstrated that over a full season. He could dominate the WAC with his multitude of skills. Sensley will be an all-conference player. On the outside, Matt Gibson is a very good scorer and solid shooter. He is most comfortable on the wing, as opposed to the point guard position that he had to play for the final stretch of the season. 7-foot center Chris Botez is an excellent defender and good rebounder, but he too could improve his production. Matthew Gipson will also see extended minutes in the paint. On the perimeter, Deonce Tatum and Bobby Nash could both start on the wing alongside Gibson. JC transfer John Wilder might get the starting job at the point. Louisiana Tech has one of the most overlooked players in the country in double-double extraordinaire Paul Millsap, the NCAA's leading rebounder for the past two seasons. He gets overshadowed by Fazekas within the conference, but is every bit as good as him. His frontcourt mates are not terribly good, however. Returnee Michael Wilds will need to take on a bigger role, while newcomers Harry Disy, Adrian Rogers, and Chad McKenzie could all join Millsap up front. A very good backcourt returns for the Bulldogs in versatile playmaker Daevon Haskins, who is one of the best all-around guards in the league, and Corey Dean, a very good scorer.

Fresno State has one of the best guards in the conference in Ja'Vance Coleman. He is an explosive, exciting player that can keep the Bulldogs in the game, but his subpar shooting percentage can also keep them out of games. His partners in the backcourt, Donovan Morris and point guard Kevin Bell, are solid performers. Morris is a great shooter, while Bell is excellent in the open court. Dwight O'Neil was a part-time starter than will also contribute in the backcourt. JC transfer Quinton Hosley is going to be a potential starter at one of the forward spots. Up front, Hector Hernandez will lead the way. He will need to increase his production by leaps and bounds if Fresno is going to make noise within the conference. Boise State has one of the best backcourts in the league in Coby Karl and Eric Lane. Karl is an all-conference candidate and is a very good all-around player that produces in all aspects of the game. Lane is a good on the ball defender that can also score and pass on the offensive end. Tezarray Banks returns as a starter up front. He needs to become a consistent option down low. Seth Robinson and Kareem Lloyd will also see major minutes in the post. New Mexico State is stockpiling Division-1 transfers for the next two years. Two of those transfers are eligible this season, and could make major impacts. Elijah Ingram is immediately one of the best point guards in the WAC. He averaged over 13 points per game for St. John's two years ago, more than holding his own in the Big East. Forward Tyrone Nelson, via Prairie View A&M, was a dominant performer in the SWAC. It might not be the same as the WAC, but he should still be a major contributor. The returning duo of Trevor Lawrence and Mike Mitchell is very good. Mitchell is a decent shooter that will run the team from the point, while Lawrence is a solid scorer and rebounder. San Jose State returns a solid backcourt in Donta Watson and Alex Elam. Watson is a decent option at the point, but needs to improve his shooting and defense if he wants to make a difference. Elam is a good scorer and is a pretty solid shooter. Freshman Devonte Thomas will see immediate playing time on the wing. Down low, 6-11 Matt Misko and 6-6 D.J. Brown return. Misko is a good rebounder, and could have a solid year in the post. Brown was a redshirt last season, but will give the Spartans a good scorer up front. Idaho returns two starters, both in the backcourt. Tanoris Shepard is an underrated guard within the conference, and is a very good all-around player and leader. Jerod Haynes' numbers don't jump out at you, but he was a good contributor, but needs to improve his offensive game. Mike Kale is the only returnee up front, and he needs to have a much better season than he did last year for the Vandals to have a chance. Newcomers Rob Pankowski and David Dubois have very good chances to start.

PROJECTED STANDINGS

(1) Nevada
(2) Utah State
(3) Hawaii
(4) Louisiana Tech
(5) Fresno State
(6) Boise State
(7) New Mexico State
(8) San Jose State
(9) Idaho

ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM

G - Ramon Sessions - Sophomore, Nevada
G - Ja'Vance Coleman - Junior, Fresno State
F - Nate Harris - Senior, Utah State
F - Paul Millsap - Junior, Louisiana Tech
F - Nick Fazekas - Junior, Nevada
Player of the Year: Nick Fazekas, Nevada

HERE AND THERE

Best Coach: Stew Morrill, Utah State
Most Likely to Overachieve: Utah State
Most Likely to Underachieve: Hawaii
Most Underrated Player: Elijah Ingram, G, New Mexico State
Most Overrated Player: Julian Sensley, F, Hawaii

POSTSEASON PROJECTIONS

NCAA: Nevada
NIT: Utah State, Hawaii

Photos Courtesy: denverpioneers.com, gozags.com, nevadawolfpack.com

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