It goes without saying that last season was a tough one for the San Diego State Aztecs on the offensive end of the floor. Steve Fisher’s team struggled to shoot the ball either inside (45.9 percent shooting on twos) or outside (32.0 percent on threes) of the arc, which hurt them in games against teams capable of cracking their (as usual under Steve Fisher) stingy defense.
A big reason why the Aztecs had issues offensively was their struggle in creating quality looks, something that was lost with the departure of 2014 Mountain West POY Xavier Thames. Thames was outstanding in his use of ball screens, which led to better looks for himself and his teammates as that group reached the Sweet 16. SDSU missed that in 2014-15, with freshman Trey Kell (who’s better at the two) doing his best to man the position and veterans such as Aqeel Quinn, Winston Shepard III and J.J. O’Brien all having their chances to make plays on the ball as well.
Even with Kell and Shepard returning, this is something the Aztecs will need to address if they’re to not only win the Mountain West but also put together a lengthy NCAA tournament run. Enter Jeremy Hemsley, who along with Indiana transfer Max Hoetzel (who will have to sit out this season) makes up San Diego State’s 2015 recruiting haul.
In a story written by Mark Zeigler of the San Diego Union-Tribune, the 6-foot-4 guard views himself as the “missing piece” for a team that will be one of the favorites to win the Mountain West in 2015-16. And the pressure that declaration comes with doesn’t faze him either.
“I’m aware of the opportunity,” Hemsley says. “I think I made the right decision to come to San Diego State. It’s all set up perfectly. It’s just the right situation. I’m aware they haven’t had a (true) point guard. I’m aware that I might be the point guard who can come in and change certain things. That has motivated me all summer.
“I’m aware of all that but I don’t believe in pressure. I’m not pressured at all. I’m just looking forward to proving people right or proving the doubters wrong.”
Hemsley was a very productive player in high school, with his versatility (and ability to make plays on or off the ball) resulting in multiple scouting outlets labeling him a top 100 prospect. But there’s a difference between high school and college basketball, especially when it comes to the responsibilities of running a team.
The good news for Hemsley is that he’ll have some veterans to rely on as he learns, and San Diego State’s defense will keep them in many games. But one of the big differences between simply going to the NCAA tournament and advancing deep into it is having a point guard capable of finding his team quality looks offensively. Whether it’s Hemsley, who clearly believes himself to be capable, or someone else that’s the player San Diego State will need to exceed last year’s performance.