2008-09 Utah State Preview: #124
Utah State Aggies
Overall Rank: #124
Conference Rank: #3 WAC
2007-08: 24-11, 12-4, 1st
2007-08 postseason: NIT
If there is one thing to be certain of in the Western Athletic Conference, it is to never count out Utah State. However, if there is a year to think that their nine year post season streak will come to end, this would be it. Three starters return, but the point guard and shooting guard spots have absolutely no game experience with the Aggies.
Jaycee Carroll and Kris Clark were the heart and soul of Utah State over the last two years. Carroll, who averaged 22.4 points per game and shot nearly 50 percent from beyond the arc, has taken his game to the NBA. Not only was Carroll one of the best shooters in the nation, he also helped out on the glass and played solid defense. The man who set up Carroll was Clark. The point guard would not score too often, but he dished out 6.4 assists per game during his senior campaign. Part-time starters Stephen DuCharme and DeUndrae Spraggins have also run out of eligibility and Desmond Stephens saw some quality minutes off the bench.
All of the newcomers will be given the opportunity to start or see significant minutes. Deremy Geiger, Skyler Halford, Jaxon Myaer and Jared Quayle will battle it out for minutes running the point. With a year on the bench redshirting, Myaer has the most experience in the system. He is a good shooter, but it remains to be seen if he can develop into a consistent floor leader. If Coach Stew Morrill wants a little more experience and a little more scoring out of his point guard, Quayle will be the answer. The junior college transfer averaged 24.4 points per game last year at Western Wyoming Community College and has the ability to put up big numbers in a hurry wherever he plays. His two years of collegiate experience are a big plus for a backcourt that has no experience. Geiger can score as well, but whoever proves they can handle the ball will get the most minutes. Richard Sirju and Stavon Williams, both junior college transfers, will see time at the shooting guard position. They both can score in a variety of ways, but this team needs a shooter and Williams has been a little more consistent from the floor during his junior college career. Brady Jardine will add some depth to the forward spots. The 6-7 Twin Falls, Idaho native has plenty of perimeter skills, but his size also allows him to mix it up in the post.
Who to Watch:
While the backcourt settles on its rotation, the frontcourt will carry USU. Gary Wilkinson averaged 13.3 points and 7.0 rebounds per contest during his first year with the Aggies. His senior season should be even better. The 6-9 forward is a good shooter from nearly anywhere on the floor, but his ability to score in the post will create space for the newcomers to hit the outside shot. Tai Wesley will be by his side again and will score plenty in the paint himself. Matt Formisano and Modou Niang give the team some experienced depth in the frontcourt.
When Tyler Newbold shot the ball, it usually went in. The 6-4 wing started 25 games last year at small forward, but he rarely got his offense in the game. But he did hit 51.5 percent of his shots from beyond the arc. If he can keep that up and take a few more attempts, the outside shooting numbers will be fine despite the absence of Carroll. He will need some help from the newcomers and sophomore Pooh Williams on the wings, but Newbold should be able to keep this team among one of the better shooting teams in the conference.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Jared Quayle, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Stavon Williams, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Tyler Newbold, Sophomore, Forward, 5.4 points per game
Tai Wesley, Sophomore, Forward, 9.9 points per game
Gary Wilkinson, Senior, Forward, 13.3 points per game