San Diego State had one of the best back courts in the country last season, and with everyone — Jamaal Franklin, Chase Tapley, Xavier Thames and James Rahon — returning next season, there is no reason to think that the Aztecs won’t have one of the most potent perimeter attacks for the second straight season.
But part of the reason that the Aztecs are widely considered UNLV’s main challenger in the MWC and a legitimate threat to be a top four seed in the 2012 NCAA tournament has to do with the size they are bringing in this season. With transfers Dwayne Polee, James Johnson and JJ O’Brien to go along with five-star recruit Winston Shepard, the Aztecs will actually have some size and depth along their front line this season. Three of those players are natural small forwards, but having a 6-foot-8 and freakishly athletic small forward at the four is a better option than using 6-foot-5 Jamaal Franklin there.
Shepard may have been the most noteworthy addition. A top 25 recruit nationally, his signing was an indication that the Aztecs had become legitimate national players, that they weren’t simply a flash-in-the-pan program that had one season worth of success thanks to a notable head coach and a first round draft pick.
But it appears that the addition of Shepard may end up being more trouble than initially thought; the 6-foot-8 freshman was arrested on Monday night for possession of marijuana. From U-T San Diego:
A campus police officer checked the parked vehicle he was occupying about 11 p.m. Monday and found a small amount of marijuana, police records show.
Shepard then was arrested, issued a citation and released.
Not exactly an ideal way to start your time on campus.
I don’t expect this to be a huge issue, to be frank. A college freshman was smoking a little pot four months before he will begin official practices to start his season. Is it ideal? No. Is it worthy of getting kicked off the team or suspended for a significant amount of time? Probably not.
My guess would be that Shepard misses a game or an exhibition at the start of the season and makes up for the ganja through extra conditioning drills.
(For what it’s worth, the suspension may end up being the more lax of the two punishments; conditioning is never, ever the least bit enjoyable.)
Image via Love Star Varsity