Josh Adams

AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi

Mountain West Conference Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

Leave a comment

The Mountain West certainly had an interesting regular season. UNLV, expected to be a factor both within the league and nationally, took a nosedive early in conference play and arrives at the conference tournament (in their building, no less) with an undermanned rotation and an interim head coach. Fresno State and Boise State managed to finish second and third in the league, but a familiar face separated itself as the class of the Mountain West: San Diego State. The Aztecs still have their issues offensively, but Jeremy Hemsley has been one of the Mountain West’s best freshmen and they’ve got a veteran group that remains fully committed on the defensive end of the floor.

Steve Fisher’s team won the conference by three games, and they’ll be expected to handle their business in Las Vegas as well. But given how eventful this season has been for the Mountain West, with everything from blown calls that decided games (New Mexico/San Diego State and Boise State/Colorado State) to the conference presidents not telling the coaches of their decision to trim the field to eight teams beginning next season, this could end up being a basketball version of a Hunter S. Thompson book.

The Bracket 

mw

When: March 9-12

Where: Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas

Final: March 12, 6:00 p.m. (CBS)

Favorite: San Diego State

Having played in six of the last seven Mountain West tournament title games (winning in 2010 and 2011), the Aztecs are used to having success in Las Vegas. That being said, the fact that the program hasn’t won the event since 2011 should serve as extra motivation this week.

San Diego State can still have the occasional lull offensively, as they ranked fifth in the Mountain West (conference games only) in field goal percentage (42.9 percent) and seventh in three-point percentage (32.8), but they have players who can make plays on that end of the floor. Jeremy Hemsley runs the show, fellow guard Trey Kell averaged 16.2 points per game in league play and Winston Shepard dished out 3.3 assists per game from the wing. But what makes this team go is their defense, as they led the Mountain West in both field goal and three-point percentage defense.

And if they lose?: Fresno State

Rodney Terry’s Bulldogs finished second in the Mountain West this season, with one of the conference’s best players in senior guard Marvelle Harris leading the way. In total Fresno State has seven players averaging at least 7.9 points per game, and they take better care of the basketball than any other team in the conference. The Bulldogs arrive in Vegas playing their best basketball of the season too, as they won six straight and eight of their last nine to end the regular season. Rebounding is a concern, especially with leading rebounder Torren Jones having missed the last ten games, but with Harris leading the way the Bulldogs have a shot.

Other Contenders:

  • Boise State: James Webb III’s health will be key here. If he’s in good physical condition the Broncos can win the whole thing, with Mikey Thompson, Anthony Drmic and Nick Duncan among the veterans capable of putting points on the board.
  • New Mexico: The Lobos have struggled with turnover issues throughout conference play. But in guard Elijah Brown and forward Tim Williams they have one of the better tandems in the Mountain West.

Sleeper: Nevada

First-year head coach Eric Musselman’s done a very good job with this group, which includes one of the best freshmen in the Mountain West in forward Cameron Oliver. The Wolf Pack won ten conference games, even with the departure of A.J. West early in the season. What complicates this choice is the health of Marqueze Coleman, and a tough matchup with New Mexico in the quarterfinals.

The Bubble Dwellers

  • San Diego State: Virtually any scenario involving the Aztecs as an at-large team includes their making Saturday’s title game. They’ll need to win two games in Las Vegas to have a shot given the non-conference schedule, which includes losses to San Diego (bad), Little Rock and Grand Canyon (both good teams, but Little Rock isn’t a bubble team either; GCU’s a provisional Division I member). Their best bet: remove all doubt and win the automatic bid.

Mountain West Player of the Year: Josh Adams, Wyoming

Fresno State’s Marvelle Harris certainly has a good argument here, given his individual excellence and the fact that he led his team to 13 conference wins. But the pick here is Adams because of how productive he was despite playing with a young supporting cast that virtually guaranteed that defenses were geared towards shutting him down. The senior still averaged 23.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game in Mountain West play. He also ranked in the top ten in field goal percentage, three-point percentage, steals and assist-to-turnover ratio.

Mountain West Coach of the Year: Steve Fisher, San Diego State

Fisher’s Aztecs were the class of the Mountain West by a wide margin, winning the conference by three games. When a team wins the conference by a comfortable margin, as was the case here, the head coach deserves to be rewarded. San Diego State’s defense grabbed the headlines, but they were also able to do enough offensively to separate themselves from the pack.

First-Team All-Mountain West:

  • Josh Adams, Wyoming (POY)
  • Marvelle Harris, Fresno State: Harris averaged 22.7 points and 4.5 assists per game in Mountain West play, ranking third in scoring and first in assists while also leading the conference in steals (2.6 per game).
  • Elijah Brown, New Mexico: Brown finished second in the conference behind Adams in scoring (22.9 ppg in conference play), and he was also ranked in the top ten in field goal percentage, assists, free throw percentage and three-point percentage.
  • Trey Kell, San Diego State: The champs deserve to have someone on the first team, and while Shepard could have an argument because of his versatility the pick here is Kell. He gave SDSU a much-needed offensive spark in league play.
  • James Webb III, Boise State: The preseason pick for Mountain West POY, Webb averaged 16.1 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game in conference play.

Second Team All-Mountain West:

  • Marqueze Coleman, Nevada
  • Patrick McCaw, UNLV
  • Antwan Scott, Colorado State
  • Winston Shepard, San Diego State
  • Tim Williams, New Mexico

Defining moment of the season: Boise State ends “The Streak”

CBT Prediction: San Diego State takes care of business, winning the automatic bid and earning a seventh straight trip to the NCAA tournament.

SATURDAY’S SNACKS: No. 5 UNC makes statement, No. 14 Kentucky falls

AP Photo/Sam Craft
Leave a comment

GAME OF THE NIGHT: Texas A&M 79, No. 14 Kentucky 77 (OT)

Tyler Davis’ put-back of a Danuel House miss as time expired gave the Aggies the win in College Station. Jalen Jones scored 24 points for the Aggies, who benefitted from a technical foul called on Kentucky’s Isaac Humphries with 9.4 seconds remaining in overtime. While Kentucky may have a beef with that call, there’s another area that proved costly for them Saturday night. Tyler Ulis led the Wildcats with 22 points and 11 assists, and Jamal Murray added 21 points in a losing effort.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

No. 5 North Carolina 96, No. 11 Miami 71: After losing to Duke earlier this week, the Tar Heels took care of business with a convincing home win as six players finished in double-figures. Brice Johnson led North Carolina with 16 points and 15 rebounds as the Tar Heels scored 54 points in the second half.

No. 18 Louisville 71, No. 20 Duke 64: The Blue Devils, playing without the injured Matt Jones, ran out of gas down the stretch as they lost at Louisville. Grayson Allen fouled out after scoring 29 points, but no other Duke player reached double figures with freshman Brandon Ingram (ten turnovers) going through his own struggles. Damion Lee scored 24 points and Deng Adel 12 for the victorious Cardinals.

BUBBLE BANTER: What do Saturday’s results mean for Selection Sunday?

No. 3 Oklahoma 76, No. 10 West Virginia 62: Buddy Hield scored 29 points for the Sooners, who completed a season sweep of the Mountaineers with a win in Morgantown. Oklahoma outscored West Virginia 24-10 over the final 7:49, and just as important as the offense was their play on the boards and on the defensive end of the floor.

No. 22 Indiana 77, No. 17 Purdue 73: Troy Williams scored 19 points and Yogi Ferrell 18 as the Hoosiers moved into first place in the Big Ten. A big key in this game was turnovers, as Purdue committed 13 with Indiana converting those mistakes into 20 points. The Boilermakers were good offensively when they didn’t turn the ball over, shooting nearly 59 percent from the field. However their comeback attempt fell short in Bloomington.

STARRED

Deonte Burton, Iowa State: With Jameel McKay not playing for an unspecified reason, Burton accounted for 23 points and 14 rebounds in the Cyclones’ win over TCU.

Josh Adams, Wyoming: Adams accounted for 37 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in the Cowboys’ 84-66 win at Colorado State.

Michael Carrera, South Carolina: Carrera accounted for 20 points, 15 rebounds and three assists in the Gamecocks’ 73-69 overtime win over Florida.

Kevin Ferguson, Army West Point: Ferguson, who scored the game-winning basket, finished with 22 points and 19 rebounds in the Black Knights’ 80-78 win at Navy.

Patrick McCaw, UNLV: 25 points, 18 rebounds and five assists in the Runnin’ Rebels’ 102-91 overtime win over Nevada.

STRUGGLED

San Diego: The Toreros scored 11 points in the first half of what would become a 91-33 loss at BYU. USD shot 0-for-20 from three. This happened just two days after the Toreros lost to BYU by two points at home.

Brandon Ingram, Duke: Eight points on 3-for-10 shooting and ten turnovers in the Blue Devils’ loss at No. 18 Louisville.

Jevon Carter, West Virginia: Scored four points, shooting 1-for-10 from the field, in the Mountaineers’ 76-62 loss to No. 3 Oklahoma.

OTHER TOP 25 RESULTS

  • No. 1 Villanova maintained its two-game lead in the Big East with a 77-67 win over Butler. Juniors Josh Hart (22 points, 12 rebounds) and Kris Jenkins (20 points) led the way for the Wildcats, who visit No. 8 Xavier Wednesday night.
  • No. 2 Kansas won at Kansas State, beating the Wildcats 72-63. Frank Mason led three Jayhawks in double figures with 16 points.
  • No. 8 Xavier ran past Georgetown for a Big East road win as Edmond Sumner had 22 points.
  • No. 13 Iowa State held off TCU 92-83, with four players scoring 90 of their points. Georges Niang finished with 27 points, with Abdel Nader adding 24, Deonte Burton 23 and Matt Thomas 16.
  • With the Bonnies fighting for a potential at-large bid, St. Bonaventure picked up a huge 79-72 win at No. 15 Dayton. Jaylen Adams had 31 points and Dion Wright had 15 points and eight rebounds.
  • Tyler Dorsey scored 25 points as No. 16 Oregon beat Oregon State 91-81. The Ducks led by 23 at the half as they rebounded from getting swept in the Bay Area last weekend.
  • Marcus Georges-Hunt’s shot with one second remaining gave Georgia Tech a 63-62 win over No. 19 Notre Dame in Atlanta. Georges-Hunt finished with 19 points and seven assists.
  • No. 25 Baylor went to Austin and dominated the action in their 78-64 win over No. 24 Texas. Johnathan Motley shot 12-for-13 on the day, scoring a game-high 24 points.

OTHER NOTABLE RESULTS

  • South Carolina outlasted Florida in overtime for an SEC win as Michael Carrera had 20 points and 15 rebounds.
  • Vanderbilt had a solid win over Georgia at home to bounce back from the Mississippi State loss. Damian Jones had 15 points and 16 rebounds.
  • South Florida picked up its first conference home win of the season by beating Memphis. Nehemias Morillo led the way with 19 points for the Bulls.
  • Winthrop broke a tie for first-place in the Big South with an 81-80 win over UNC Asheville as Jimmy Gavin had 26 points.
  • Jack Gibbs scored 35 points as Davidson beat Saint Joseph’s 99-93. Isaiah Miles led the Hawks, who are now a game out of first in the Atlantic 10, with 32 points.
  • Pittsburgh completed a season sweep of Syracuse, beating the Orange 66-52 at the Carrier Dome. Jamie Dixon is now 7-2 in his coaching career at the Carrier Dome.
  • Two SEC teams did themselves no favors with regards to the bubble, as Alabama lost at home to Mississippi State and LSU was whipped by 16 at Tennessee.
  • IPFW (11-3) retained its one-game lead in the Summit League with a 94-90 win over Omaha. South Dakota State kept pace with an 87-67 win at Western Illinois.
  • UNCW moved to 13-3 in the CAA with a 59-55 overtime win at Charleston. The Seahawks lead Hofstra (11-4) by a game in the loss column, with the Pride scheduled to visit UNCW next Thursday.
  • Chattanooga’s at-large hopes took a significant hit, as they lost 79-64 at home to UNC Greensboro. RJ White led the Spartans with a game-high 26 points, and Chattanooga shot just 6-for-29 from three.
  • Belmont (12-3) earned at least a share of the OVC regular season title with a 95-86 win over Tennessee Tech (10-4). Evan Bradds led five Bruins in double figures with 21 points while also grabbing 13 rebounds.
  • With star big man Joel Bolomboy playing just seven minutes, Weber State held off Northern Arizona 77-74 in Flagstaff. Jeremy Senglin scored 22 points and Kyndahl Hill 19 for the Wildcats.
  • Washington snapped its four-game losing streak with a 64-53 win over Stanford. Dejounte Murray led the Huskies with 25 points and nine rebounds.
  • Saint Mary’s moved into a tie for first in the WCC with a 63-58 win at Gonzaga. The Gaels swept the season series, and it could be a case where both teams get to the conference tournament needing the auto bid to go dancing.
  • UNLV pulled away from Nevada in overtime, winning 102-91 after Marqueze Coleman (Nevada) and Patrick McCaw (UNLV) traded three-pointers in the final seconds of regulation. McCaw finished with 25 points, 18 rebounds and five assists, and Nevada’s Cameron Oliver racked up 14 points and 21 rebounds.
  • Hawai’i took a two-game lead in the Big West with a 75-71 comeback win at UC Irvine. Aaron Valdes’ three-pointer with 40.1 seconds remaining gave the Rainbow Warriors their first lead of the game, and they’ve swept the season series with the Anteaters.

Mountain West suspends Wyoming guard one game

AP Photo/Juan Labreche
Leave a comment

There are few players in college basketball as important to their team as Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams. Adams, averaging 24.2 points per game, leads the Cowboys in points, rebounds, assists and steals on the season and is a candidate for Mountain West Player of the Year honors. Unfortunately for head coach Larry Shyatt, Adams won’t be available when the Cowboys welcome of the conference’s best teams in Boise State Saturday.

The Mountain West announced Friday afternoon that Adams has been suspended one game for his actions in the Cowboys’ loss to Nevada earlier in the week. According to the conference there were multiple violations of the league’s rules on sportsmanship, resulting in the suspension.

Adams, who was assessed a technical foul in the game, wasn’t the only player to receive some kind of discipline from the Mountain West. Nevada’s Cameron Oliver was reprimanded for his being ejected from the game after receiving two technical fouls within just over a minute of game action.

Chris Murray of the Reno Gazette-Journal provided the details on the incident that led to both Adams and Oliver receiving technical fouls.

After being raked across the face by Wyoming’s Jason McManamen during a battle for a loose ball, Oliver pushed McManamen, who fell to the ground. Oliver was one of three players assessed a technical foul on the play (the others were Wyoming’s Trey Washington III and Josh Adams).

Oliver picked up a second technical foul 64 seconds later when he clapped following a Wyoming timeout aimed to quell a 12-1 Nevada run. The second technical, with 12:48 remaining in the game, triggered an automatic ejection. The MW said Oliver being assessed two Class A technical fouls violated provisions of Mountain West Rule 4-Sportsmanship.

Oliver will be available to play in Nevada’s game against UNLV, but Adams was not as fortunate. Without Adams, who coach Shyatt planned to bring off the bench as a result of his technical foul, Wyoming has a lot of production to account for against a team that includes the likes of James Webb III, Nick Duncan and Anthony Drmic.

VIDEOS: College basketball’s best dunkers

AP Photo
Leave a comment

Like just about everyone that’s ever watch the sport, we love a good dunk better than just about anything, so we decided to compile a list of the guys you need to keep an eye on throughout the year.

Here’s the thing: this isn’t close to a comprehensive list of terrific dunkers in college hoops this season.

[MORE: Top 100 players in college hoops]

So if we missed on the best dunker on your favorite team, please, by all means, post a video of his best work in the comments:

25. Wally Ellenson, Marquette: The older brother of all-everything freshman Henry Ellenson and an Olympic hopeful in the high jump, Ellenson does things like this a lot:

24. Dwuan Anderson, Wagner: The former Michigan State commit is healthy this season after breaking his foot last year. That’s good for people that like things like this:

23. Deuce Bello, East Tennessee State: The former Baylor and Missouri guard is now playing in the OVC. He’s still got bounce, though:

MORE: Top leads guards | Top off guards | Top 100 Wings | Top 100 Bigs

22. Demetrius Jackson, Notre Dame: The 6-foot dynamo can do things like this, which is only part of the reason we have him pegged as an all-american this season:

21. Phil Cofer, Florida State: He’s not the most well-known dude in college basketball, but he’s big and athletic and aggressive, which is why you see him do things like this:

20. Jaylen Brown, Cal: Brown isn’t known as an elite dunker, but he did do this over the weekend. We approve:

19. Aubrey Dawkins, Michigan: You won’t see a cooler dunk vid than this vine of still frames from when Dawkins banged on Nnanna Egwu:

18. Muhammad Ali Abdur Rahkman, Michigan: Not to be outdone, Dawkins’ teammate, who we like to refer to as MAAR:

17. David Walker, Northeastern: A little love for the mid-majors here:

16. Grayson Allen, Duke: You should be well aware of what he can do by now, but this throwback edit from when he won the Burger Boy dunk contest is a nice reminder:

RELATED: Top 100 players | NBC Sports Preseason Top 25

15. Dwayne Bacon, Florida State: Bacon is the reigning McDonald’s All-American dunk champion:

14. Antonio Blakeney, LSU: Blakeney had one of the best dunks you’ll ever see in grassroots basketball a few years back:

13. Jordan Weethee, VMI: Remember this guy? Easily the best part of the dunk is the reaction of No. 34:

12. Josh Adams, Wyoming: Josh Adams is listed at 6-foot-2. You buy that?

11. Gary Payton II, Oregon State: I feel comfortable calling Payton the best on-ball defender in college basketball, not unlike his dad. But where The Glove threw a lot of these, II catches ’em like Shawn Kemp did:

10. Kerwin Roach, Texas: The video of Roach maxing out the vertical testing machine went viral in September. This is what happens when he actually is able to dunk:

9. Jalen Reynolds, Xavier: Reynolds was on the giving end of what might have been my favorite dunk from the 2015-16 season:

8. Sheldon McClellan, Miami: Whether it’s in the half court or in transition, this high-flying Hurricane is a threat to finish above the rim. And you’ll see him catching lobs quite often.

7. Rayjon Tucker, #DunkCity: I wanted to just post a vine of Tucker’s handiwork … but man, there’s just too much good stuff in here. He picked the right school in Florida-Gulf Coast:

6. Daniel House, Texas A&M: The former five-star recruit was one of the most underrated players in the SEC a season ago:

5. Troy Williams, Indiana: I’m fairly surprised that Williams doesn’t have more in-game dunks in portfolio, because he can do things like this:

4. John Brown, High Point: John Brown’s career highlights are worth watching — they’re all right here — but his best work is as follows:

3. Shaq Johnson, Longwood: Johnson threw down some nice dunks last season playing for Longwood and his high school mixtape is the single best mixtape every made, but this is still the best dunk the former Auburn guard has ever thrown down:

2. Deonte Burton, Iowa State: It’s hard to imagine a nastier dunk at the college level:

1. Derrick Jones, UNLV: The Runnin’ Rebels are going to be fun this year. Jalen Poyser, Steven Zimmermann and Ike Nwamu are all elite dunkers. Truly. But no one — and I mean no one — compares to Derrick Jones. I mean, this is just stupid:

Mountain West Preview: Boise State, SDSU to contend

San Diego State's Skylar Spencer (AP Photo)
5 Comments

Beginning in October and running up through November 13th, the first day of the regular season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2015-2016 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

Today, we are previewing the Mountain West.

While the Mountain West did manage to get three teams into the NCAA tournament a season ago, 2014-15 also served as a wakeup call of sorts. The league put together an out of conference strength of schedule that was ranked 25th out of 33 leagues, and there was a price to be paid Selection Sunday. San Diego State received an eight-seed and Boise State, which shared the regular season title with SDSU and was the top seed in the Mountain West tournament, landed in the First Four where they got to take on Dayton, whose home arena hosted those games.

The Broncos and Aztecs are two of the teams expected to contend this season, with a talented UNLV squad looking to get into the mix and Fresno State and Utah State also capable of making a run. But even with the amount of talent possessed by those programs, what they do in November and December will have a major impact on how much respect they’re given in March. The Mountain West learned this the hard way last season.

FIVE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW:

1. UNLV brings in the conference’s top recruiting class in what is a big season for Dave Rice: According to Rivals.com the Runnin’ Rebels have a class that’s the 11th-best in the country, with big man Stephen Zimmerman being the crown jewel of that group. Add in transfers such as Jerome Seagears (Rutgers), Ben Carter (Oregon) and Ike Nwamu (Mercer), and a sophomore class expected to take a step forward, and there’s no denying that Dave Rice and his staff have a lot to work with. But can they take advantage of it? Not only will the answer impact this season, but it could also impact the direction of UNLV basketball in seasons to come.

2. Nevada and Utah State made head coaching changes: There were two head coaching changes in the Mountain West this offseason, and the two hires are in far different situations. Eric Musselman, who has plenty of experience at both the college and NBA levels, takes over at Nevada and he’s already had success on the recruiting trail. The other move occurred at Utah State, where longtime assistant Tim Duryea slides over a seat to take over for the retired Stew Morrill. And with all five starters back, led by Player of the Year candidate Jalen Moore, Duryea could have a Mountain West contender on his hands.

3. San Diego State has some issues to sort out offensively: You know that Steve Fisher’s Aztecs are going to bring it defensively; that hasn’t been in question for a long time on Montezuma Mesa. But what is up for questioning is this group’s productivity on the offensive end, with their best perimeter shooter from last season out of eligibility (Aqeel Quinn) and the player expected to be that option (Matt Shrigley) sidelined with a torn ACL. Can Malik Pope develop into the talent that has some NBA Draft types discussing him as a possible first round pick? Is freshman Jeremy Hemsley the answer at the point? Those are two key questions SDSU faces heading into the season.

4. Anthony Drmic returns to the court after redshirting last season: When Boise State lost Anthony Drmic for the season in January due to a back injury, it was assumed that the Broncos were in trouble. Well everyone else got healthy, Derrick Marks emerged as the conference’s best player and James Webb III took off in conference play. While Marks is now playing professionally, Drmic returns for his final season, joining a highly experienced perimeter rotation on a team that can win another Mountain West title.

James Webb III
AP Photo

5. Colorado State, Wyoming looking to account for major personnel losses: Colorado State had a good case that it should have been in the NCAA tournament last season, as they won 26 games and finished third in the conference. But that senior-laden group landed in the NIT, and now Larry Eustachy has to account for the loss of his top three scorers from a season ago (J.J. Avila, Stanton Kidd and Daniel Bejarano). As for Wyoming, Larry Shyatt has just one starter returning (Josh Adams) from a team that got hot in Las Vegas and won the Mountain West tournament.

MORE: 2015-16 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

COACH’S TAKE:

  • Favorite: “I think you have to start two places. I think you have to start with Boise State, being the defending champs and having three elite players back in Webb, Duncan and Drmic. Those are three of the better players in the league on the team that won it. And I think the other place you have to start in this league is San Diego State. They’re the most physically gifted team in the league in terms of size and athleticism and length, and defensively they are the gold standard in this league.”
  • Sleeper: “I think that has to be Fresno State. Marvelle Harris, one of the top two or three players in the league is back, and Paul Watson’s good as well. I think they have a chance to be really good. They started out last year without their full contingent of players, and once they got everyone back they were extremely hard to guard. I think they’ll be (in the race) all year because they’re explosive offensively and put a lot of pressure on you defensively. They’re very athletic. I know they took a foreign tour this summer that I’m sure they think puts them in a good spot experience-wise.”
  • Best player: “I think, for the effect that they have on the game and for the efficiency they plays with, James Webb III from Boise State and Marvelle Harris from Fresno State. One of those guys is “1A” and the other’s “1B” because  they both have a huge impact on the game. In different ways, but both really affect the game so those are the two guys who come to mind right away.”
  • Most underrated player: “I thought Marvelle Harris (was underrated last year). There are a lot of similarities between he and Derrick Marks, and I think he’s a guy who could have a breakout year this year. I think he’s as good as anybody in the league, is a pro prospect and could have a special year.”

PRESEASON MOUNTAIN WEST PLAYER OF THE YEAR: James Webb III, Boise State

While Boise State getting healthy was a big factor in them getting hot in conference play, so was the emergence of Webb. In his first season in a Boise State uniform Webb averaged 11.2 points and 8.0 rebounds per game, shooting 55.2 percent from the field and 40.9 percent from three. A versatile offensive weapon at 6-foot-9, Webb could take off in 2015-16.

THE REST OF THE ALL-MOUNTAIN WEST FIRST TEAM:

  • Marvelle Harris, Fresno State: The 6-foot-4 senior averaged 16.4 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.0 steals per game last season.
  • Jalen Moore, Utah State: Moore’s added some weight to his frame after playing well enough to earn second team all-conference honors a season ago, and he could be in the Player of the Year conversation in 2015-16.
  • A.J. West, Nevada: One of the nation’s best rebounders, West grabbed 11.0 caroms per contest to go with 12.1 points and 2.6 blocks.
  • Josh Adams, Wyoming: Adams will have a lot on his plate with the Cowboys losing four starters from last season’s team. He averaged 12.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game as a junior.

FIVE MORE NAMES TO KNOW:

  • Stephen Zimmerman and Jaylen Poyser, UNLV
  • Skylar Spencer, San Diego State
  • Anthony Drmic, Boise State
  • Emmanuel Omogbo, Colorado State
  • Cullen Neal, New Mexico

BREAKOUT STAR: Malik Pope, San Diego State

After dealing with two major injuries on the tail end of his high school career, Pope showed some flashes of his array of skills as a freshman. The next step for the 6-foot-10 forward is consistency, which could come with a season spent working on his body and game as opposed to having to focus on rehab. If he can do that, SDSU has its feature scorer and Pope’s name will continue to circulate amongst those who put together mock drafts.

COACH UNDER PRESSURE: Dave Rice, UNLV

Rice is the clear choice here, given UNLV’s underachievement in recent years. While many choose to focus on UNLV’s lack of national success when airing their frustrations, consider this: since Rice took over in 2011 UNLV’s finished no higher than third in the Mountain West in any of the four seasons he’s been in charge. Expectations are high in Las Vegas, with UNLV having the talent to be a factor both within the conference and nationally. Anything less could spell trouble for Rice.

ON SELECTION SUNDAY WE’LL BE SAYING … : Are any of these teams capable of getting to the second weekend?

I’M MOST EXCITED ABOUT: Seeing if a player can step forward in the same manner that Derrick Marks did for Boise State last season.

FIVE NON-CONFERENCE GAMES TO CIRCLE ON YOUR CALENDAR:

  • November 19, Boise State at Arizona
  • November 26, San Diego State vs. California (Las Vegas Invitational)
  • November 29, Utah State at Duke
  • December 9, UNLV at Wichita State
  • December 22, Kansas at San Diego State

ONE TWITTER FEED TO FOLLOW: @GeoffGrammer

PREDICTED FINISH

1. Boise State: Derrick Marks has moved on, but the Broncos have a good mix of experience and newcomers to rely on. And James Webb III is going to be a star this season.
2. San Diego State: If Jeremy Hemsley is the answer at the point the Aztecs can win the league outright. But they still need to find dependable perimeter shooters.
3. UNLV: The raw talent is definitely there for the Runnin’ Rebels. But can Dave Rice make all the pieces fit together?
4. Utah State: With all five starters back longtime assistant Tim Duryea could be in for a big year in his debut as head coach.
5. Fresno State: With their entire rotation back, led by Marvelle Harris, this could be a big year for the Bulldogs.
6. New Mexico: The Lobos enter this season with hopes of avoiding the injury bug that derailed their 2014-15 campaign even before conference play began.
7. Colorado State: Larry Eustachy lost a lot from last season, but they’ve added some quality players to make up for that. One name to remember: Emmanuel Omogbo.
8. Wyoming: Larry Shyatt finds himself in a similar situation personnel-wise, with senior guard Josh Adams being surrounded by many new faces.
9. Nevada: While Eric Musselman’s first season at the helm may not churn out too many wins, he and his staff have done a good job on the recruiting trail thus far.
10. Air Force: Dave Pilipovich’s team was one of the better offensive teams in the league from an efficiency standpoint last year. But they have to get better defensively if they’re to make a move up the standings.
11. San Jose State: Already working with limited talent, losing Rashad Muhammad (transferred to Miami) doesn’t help Dave Wojcik at all as he looks to rebuild.