UNLV has one the best mixture of returning and new players in the conference. Coach Marvin Menzies did an excellent job in turning this team into contenders in such a short period of time, especially after all of the confusion that the team went through prior to him getting there. It was a mess! Hopefully, UNLV will be able to put all of that behind them this season with this team. On top of that, Coach Menzies is a winner and has what it takes to compete for the top of the Mountain West.

Watch out for San Diego State as well! This team had the best defense in the Mountain West last season but their problem was shooting and rebounding. This team did an excellent job recruiting to solve these problems.

Wyoming has several players returning from their CI championship team. Let’s just hope that they’ve worked on defense over the summer.

Nevada is still a very dangerous team and has what it takes to compete for the top of the Conference but there are a lot of new faces on this team.

With that said, here what we project the Mountain West to look like in 2017-2018:

1. UNLV Basketball

Coach: Marvin Menzies

Off Roster:
Graduated: Uche Ofoegbu, Christian Jones, and Tyrell Green
Transferred: Jalen Poyser ( St. Bonaventure), Zion Morgan (Wabash Valley College), Troy Baxter, Jr. (Florida Gulf Coast), and Dwayne Morgan

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Jovan Mooring (PG), Kris Clyburn (SG), Cheickna Dembélé (PF), Ben Coupet, Jr. (SF), and Djordjije Sljivancanin (C )
Key Transfer(s): Shakur Juiston (SF, Hutchinson), Jordan Johnson (PG, Milwaukee) and Anthony Smith (SF, Barton)
Key Freshmen: Brandon McCoy (C), Amauri Hardy (PG), Jay Green (PG), Tervell Beck (SF), and Chiekh Mbacke Diong (C)

We may see one of the biggest college basketball turn-around in a long time with this team. UNLV was a last place team in the Mountain West last season and has the potential to be a first place team this coming season with all of its new additions.

Coach Marvin Menzies has put together one the best recruiting classes in the nations.

He added perhaps the best all-around JUCO transfer in the nation in Shakur Juiston. In juiston’s final season at Hutchinson Community College he averaged 17.3 points, 12.1 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game. He plays both ends of the floor well. He had a total of 57 steals and 67 blocks in 37 games. He and top 25 freshman big man, Brandon McCoy, should be a force to reckon with in the paint. Expect UNLV to be one of the best rebounding teams in the nation in 2017-2018 with the two (2) in the front court.

On top of that, this team has added 2015-2016’s 2nd best point guard in the nation, Jordan Johnson, who transferred from Milwaukee after the 2015-2016 to play for UNLV. Johnson averaged 12.5 points, 3.6 rebounds, and a whopping 8.1 assists per game in his final season at Milwaukee. He should be ready to play this season after sitting the 2016-2017 season due to transfer rules.

This team should improve in almost every category this season.

2016-2017 Record: 11-21 Overall (4-14 Conference)
Projected Conference Wins 2017-2018: 14+

2. San Diego State Basketball

Coach: Brian Dutcher

Off Roster:
Graduated: Dakarai Allen, Valentine Izundu, Matt Shrigley and Williams, D'Erryl
Transferred: Zylan Cheatham (Arizona State)

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Trey Kell (SG), Jeremy Hemsley (SG), Malik Pope (SF), Max Hoetzel (SF), Montaque Gill-Caesar (SG), and Nolan Narain
Key Transfer(s): Devin Watson (PG, San Fransisco) and Kameron Rooks (C, California)
Key Freshmen: Jalen McDaniels (PF), Jordan Schakel (SG), Matt Mitchell (SG), and Adam Seiko


San Diego State will start the 2017-2018 season with a new head coach in Brian Dutcher and things are looking good for this team.

This team had problems at the point guard position last season. There wasn’t a single person on the team to average three (3) or more assists per game last season. Therefore, ball movement and scoring suffered. San Diego State was ranked last in assist per game in the Mountain West and 324th in nationwide last season.

However, San Diego State looks to solve their point guard troubles with the addition of division 1 transfer guard Devin Watson, who averaged 20.3 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game in his final season at USF.

Watson should join San Diego State’s top three (3) point producers Trey Kell, Jeremy Hemsley, and Malik Pope in the starting lineup.

This team also looks to solve their rebounding woes with the addition of California’s graduate transfer Kameron Rooks and freshman Jalen McDaniels. Rooks, a 7 foot center, averaged 4.5 rebounds per game in his final season at California. Freshman McDaniels is 6’ 9” and long and should help fill up space under the rim.

2016-2017 Record: 19-14 Overall (9-9 Conference)
Projected Conference Wins 2017-2018: 14-

3. Wyoming Basketball

Coach: Allen Edwards

Off Roster:
Graduated: Jason McManamen
Transferred: Jeremy Lieberman (California Baptist)

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Justin James (SG), Hayden Dalton (PF), Louis Adams (SG), Alan Herndon (PF), Jordan Naughton (C), Alexander Aka Gorski (SG), Cody Kelley (PG), and Andrew Moemeka (PF)
Key Transfer(s): Nyaires 'Nye' Redding (PG, Washington State)
Key Freshmen: Anthony Mack (SG), Austin Mueller (SF), Hunter Maldonado (SF), and Hunter Thompson (PF)

Wyoming has a great number of players returning from their successful 2016-2017 season, which includes their top two (2) scorers, Justin James and Hayden Dalton, and starters Louis Adams, Alan Herndon, and Jordan Naughton.

Next to Nevada, Wyoming was one of the best offensive teams in the Mountain West putting up, on average, 77.9 points per game. However, defense was another story. This team allowed their opponents to score, on average, 74.6 points per game.

If Wyoming could find a way to get better on defense this team has a very good chance to win the Mountain West Conference.

2016-2017 Record: 23-15 Overall (8-10 Conference) CBI Champions
Projected Conference Wins 2017-2018: 13-

4. Nevada Basketball

Coach: Eric Musselman

Off Roster:
Possibly Turned Pro: Cameron Oliver
Graduated: Marcus Marshall, D.J. Fenner
Transferred: Leland King II (UC Sanata Barbara) and Devearl Ramsey (UC Sanata Barbara),

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Jordan Caroline (SF), Lindsey Drew (PG), Elijah Foster (C), Josh Hall (SF),
Key Transfer(s): Kendall Stephens (SG, Purdue), Caleb Martin (SF, N.C. State), Hallice Cooke (SG, Iowa State), Darien Williams (PF, St. John's), Cody Martin (SF, N.C. State)

There won’t be any scholarship freshmen on this roster in 2017-2018. Instead, this team will be heavily dependent on experienced and talented division 1 transfers to continue their success from the 2016-2017 season.

On the other hand, Nevada will be returning three starters from last season in Jordan Caroline, Elijah Foster,, and Lindsey Drew.

Foster played only seven (7) games before being suspended for off the court issues. As a starter, he averaged 12.0 points and 7.4 rebounds per game prior to his suspension. With all of that behind him, he should be ready to return to the team.

Nevada should get good production from North Carolina State transfers Caleb and Cody Martin. Both are great rebounders and can score. Caleb averaged 11.5 points and 4.7 rebounds in his final season while his twin brother Cody averaged 6 points and 4.4 rebounds in his final season.

The one problem with this team is that there may not be a strong backup point guard on the roster.

2016-2017 Record: 28-7 Overall (14-4 Conference) NCAA first round exit.
Projected Conference Wins 2017-2018: 13+

5. Boise State Basketball

Coach: Leon Rice

Off Roster:
Graduated: Nick Duncan and James Reid
Transferred: Paris Austin (California)

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Chandler Hutchison (SG), Justinian Jessup (SG), David Wacker (C), Robin Jorch (C), Zach Haney (C), Marcus Dickinson (PG), and Alex Hobbs (SG)
Key Transfer(s): Lexus Williams (PG, Valparaiso), Christian Sengfelder (PF, Fordham), and Casdon Jardine (PF, Southern Idaho)
Key Freshmen: Cameron Christon (SG)

Boise State has brought in a couple of gradate transfers, Lexus Williams and Christian Sengfelder, to help keep them competitive in the Mountain West. Williams and Christian will join starters Chandler Hutchison, Justinian Jessup, and David Wacker.

Hutchison was the team’s top point producer with an average 17 points per game.

The only one question with this team is at the point guard position. Boise State was the 3rd worst team in the Mountain West when it came to assists per game. They didn’t have a single player on the team to average 3 or more assists per game last season.

2016-2017 Record: 20-12 Overall (12-6 Conference) NIT 2nd round exit
Projected Conference Wins 2017-2018: 11+

6. Utah State Basketball

Coach: Tim Duryea

Off Roster:
Graduated: Jalen Moore, Shane Rector,
Transferred: Ngor Barnaba (Northwest Nazarene)

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Koby McEwen (PG), Sam Merrill (SG), Alexis Dargenton (SF), Norbert Janicek (C), Quinn Taylor (PF), Julion Pearre (SG), and Diogo Brito (PG)
Key Transfer(s): DeAngelo Isby (SG,Wabash Valley) and Dwayne Brown, Jr. (SF, Northern Oklahoma Tonkawa)
Key Freshmen: Daron Henson (PF), Klay Stall (PF), and Crew Ainge (PG)

Utah State is getting back several key players from last season. Believe it or not this team is just a few points away from being a very competitive team in the mountain west. Utah State only had two (2) players to average double digits in scoring last season.

Fortunately they’ve added two very good JUCO transfers who can score in DeAngelo Isby and Dwayne Brown, Jr. In his final season at Wabash Valley community college Isby averaged 16.3 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game. Brown averaged 13.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2 assists per game in his final season at Northern Oklahoma Tonkawa community college.

2016-2017 Record: 14-17 Overall (7-11 Conference)
Projected Conference Wins 2017-2018: 10-

7. Colorado State Basketball

Coach: Larry Eustachy

Off Roster:
Graduated: Emmanuel Omogbo and Gian Clavell
Transferred: Braden Koelliker (Chaminade)

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Prentiss Nixon (PG), Jeremiah Paige (SG), Nico Carvacho (C), Che Bob (SF), and Anthony Bonner (SG)
Key Transfer(s): Deion James (SF, Pima), Robbie Berwick (SG, Florida State), Raquan Mitchell (SG, South Plains), and Lorenzo Jenkins (SG, Arkansas)
Key Freshmen: Logan Ryan (PF)

Three (3) out of five (5) starters, Prentiss Nixon, Jeremiah Paige, and Nico Carvacho, will be returning from the 2016-2017 season. However, the top to (2) scorers, Gian Clavell and Emmanuel Omogbo will be missing from the roster. Colorado State is going to have to replace a total of 34 points per game with them being gone.

The good news is that Colorado State has added a very good scoring JUCO transfer in Deion James. With an average of 20.6 points per game, James was ranked 9th in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) in scoring. He is also a very good defender and ball handler. He and Nixon, who was the team’s 3rd best point producer, should give this team enough points to build on their success from the 2016-2017 season.

2016-2017 Record: 24-12 Overall (13-5 Conference) NIT 2nd round finish
Projected Conference Wins 2017-2018: 7+

8. Fresno State Basketball

Coach: Rodney Terry

Off Roster:
Graduated: Paul Watson, Jaron Hopkins, Cullen Russo and Karachi Edo

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Deshon Taylor (SG), Jahmel Taylor (PG), Bryson Williams (PF), Terrell Carter II (C), Sam Bittner (SG), Nate Grimes (SF), Darryl McDowell-White (SG), and Johnny McWilliams (SG)
Key Transfer(s): New Williams (SG, Auburn)
Key Freshmen: Myles Fitzgerald-Warren (SG) and Lázaro Rojas (C)

Fresno State will return top scorer Deshon Taylor and starters Jahmel Taylor and Bryson Williams. FThis team had the 3rd best defense in the Mountain West last season and should continue to do well in that category.

On the other hand, Fresno State wasn’t as good when it comes to moving the ball. They were the 3rd worst team in the Mountain West in points per game last season. Hopefully, the addition of Pacific’s graduate transfer, Ray Bowles, will help this team to improve in that category.

2016-2017 Record: 20-13 Overall (11-7 Conference) NIT first round finish
Projected Conference Wins 2017-2018: 7-

9. San José State Basketball

Coach: Jean Prioleau

Off Roster:
Graduated: Isaac Thornton, Gary Williams Jr., and E.J. Boyce
Transferred: Brandon Clarke (Gonzaga)

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Ryan Welage (PF), Jalen James (PG), Jaycee Hillsman (SG), Brandon Mitchell (SF), Isaiah Nichols (PG), Ryan Singer (PF), and Ashtin Chastain (C)
Key Transfer(s): Oumar Barry (C, Iowa Western)
Key Freshmen: Nai Carlisle (PG), Noah Baumann (SG), Walter Graves III (SF), Keith Fisher III (PF), and Caleb Simmons (SF)

San Jose State is not quite in rebuilding mode but there will be a lot of new faces on this team. There will be five (5) scholarship freshmen and one (1) JUCO transfer on the roster in 2017-2018.

This team will also start the season with a new head coach in Jean Prioleau. In addition, San Jose State will lose its best player, Brandon Clarke, to Gonzaga via transfer.

2016-2017 Record: 14-16 Overall (7-11 Conference)
Projected Conference Wins 2017-2018: 6-

10. New Mexico Basketball

Coach: Paul Weir

Off Roster:
Graduated: Obij Aget, Tim Williams
Transferred: Elijah Brown (Oregon), Jalen Harris (Arkansas)

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Sam Logwood (SF), Joe Furstinger (PF), Connor MacDougall (C), Dane Kuiper (SG), Anthony Mathis (SG),
Key Transfer(s): Chris McNeal (PG, Indian Hills), Troy Simons (PG, Polk State), and Jachai Simmons (SF, Midland)
Key Freshmen: Makuach Maluach (SF) and Vladimir Pinchuk (PF)

New Mexico has a new head coach in Coach Paul Weir. With several starters gone from the 2016-2017 season this team is rebuilding. However, Coach Weir will have some good pieces to work with, which includes the best shooting guards to transfer out of JUCO College, Troy Simons. He will be joined by Chris McNeal, one of the best point guards to transfer from JUCO College.

2016-2017 Record: 17-14 Overall (10-8 Conference)
Projected Conference Wins 2017-2018: 4+

11. Air Force Basketball

Coach: Dave Pilipovich

Off Roster:
Graduated: Zach Kocur, Hayden Graham, and Kyle Broekhuis

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Jacob Van (SG), Frank Toohey (C), Trevor Lyons (SG), CJ Siples (SG), Lavelle Scottie (SF), Ryan Manning (PF), Pervis Louder (SG), Dane Norman (PF), Sid Tomes (SG), and Brendan Leonard (C )

The Air Forces’ top two (2) scorers, Jacob Van (SG) and Frank Toohey (C) are returning for another season. Hopefully, this team will get better on the defensive end. The Air Force was ranked next to last in the Mountain West in point allowed by the opponent.

2016-2017 Record: 12-21 Overall (4-14 Conference)
Projected Conference Wins 2017-2018: 4-

*This projection is the sole view of d1coachcorner.com and should be seen as for entertainment purposes only. As for stats, all stats were taken from NCAA statistics via ncaa.com and the from the National Junior College Athletic Association statistic via NJCAA.com.

 

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Mountain West Conference Basketball : 2017-2018 Predictions
Jack Williams, D1CoachCorner.com October 13, 2017, 3:30pm