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Return to the 2006-07 Top 144 Preview

September 19th, 2006

By Joel Welser

Broadcast Basketball

 

Utah State Aggies

 

Overall Rank: #53

Conference Rank: #3 WAC

 

2005-06: 23-9, 11-5, 2nd (t)

2005-06 postseason: NCAA

 

Coach Stew Morrill and Utah State have proven time and time again that they are a team that can reload and put out a solid squad year after year.  With three starters gone, it will be difficult to sneak into the NCAA Tournament this time around, but the last thing anybody should do is doubt the Aggies and Coach Morrill.

 

Whoís Out: There are big losses all over the court with Nate Harris and Cass Matheus out up front and David Pak and Chris Huber from the backcourt.  Harris and Matheus leave a big scoring and rebounding gap in the paint.  They combined to averaged 13.7 boards per game and the returning leader is at just 3.5 rebounds per contest.  Pak was a solid floor leader during his time at USU.  Last year he averaged 4.6 assists per game and tacked on 7.5 points.  Seldom used Everett Morgan and Nate Bendall will not be returning to Logan for the 2006-2007 campaign.

 

Whoís In: With so many newcomers, it will take a little time for Utah State to get everything organized.  And it all starts at the point where Mikel Watson, Kris Clark and Blake Tillotson will man that position.  Watson redshirted last year after spending some time at Saddleback Junior College in California, where he averaged 14.4 points and 1.8 assists as a sophomore.  Clark, a transfer from Vincennes University in Indiana is more of a pure point guard than Watson.  Tillotson, an incoming freshman walk-on, isnít expected to see much action this year, but the overall unit has plenty of talent and versatility.  Aaron England will provide some more depth on the wings.  He earned first-team all-state honors last year at Cyrpus High School in Utah.  The small forward spot is the deepest on the team and O.J. Harrison and Andrew Jordan will add to that.  Harrison spent his freshman season at Vincennes University where the athletic 6-4 Danville, Illinois native averaged 10.4 points per game.  Jordan averaged over 20 points per game during his last two seasons at Northridge High School in Layton, Utah.  He has plenty of potential to become a solid player, but will find it difficult to find the floor as a freshman.  Stephen DuCharme and Michael Earl will bring some much needed experience to the post.  DuCharme averaged 12.4 points and 9.0 rebounds at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas as a sophomore and will get the opportunity to see plenty of minutes for the Aggies this year.  Earl is a quality shot blocker and can fill in minutes at the four or five.  Arvydas Vaietiekus is the only true center on the roster.  Prior to redshirting last year, the 6-11, 230 pounder averaged 5.0 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks as a sophomore at Marshalltown Community College in Iowa.  If Vaietiekus isnít ready for major minutes, the Aggies will be forced to employ a smaller lineup.

 

Who to Watch: With Harris gone, there is little doubt who USUís big man on campus will be.  Jaycee Carroll showed up as a freshman and lit up the Big West two years ago.  He was able to surprise again last year and put up huge numbers in the WAC.  The 6-2 shooting guard averaged 16.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.0 steals as a sophomore.  Now, as an upperclassman, the sharp shooter will garner even higher hopes from Aggie fans.  Carroll will be joined on the wing by the only other returning starter on the team, Durrall Peterson.  Peterson averaged 7.2 points and 3.4 rebounds as a junior.

 

Final Projection: It wonít be easy replacing the frontcourt of Harris and Matheus.  Chris Session started five contests last year and averaged 2.6 points and 2.9 rebounds.  With an increase in playing time, Session is expected to step up and help fill the void.  Chaz Spicer was the first big man off the bench last year.  Ideally a power forward, Spicer could move to the five spot if the newcomers arenít ready to contribute right away.  While not the greatest rebounder around, Spicer is a decent scorer and can hold his own on the defensive end.  The frontcourt raises some questions, but there are some nice options.  Even if one the newcomers doesnít pan out, another one will.  The top of the WAC is too good for USU, but if the WAC can squeeze a third team into the NCAAs, it could be USU.  Thatís unlikely though and a trip to the NIT is more realistic.

 

Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT

 

Projected Starting Five:

Mikel Watson, Junior, Guard, DNP last season

Jaycee Carroll, Junior, Guard, 16.3 points per game

Durrall Peterson, Senior, Guard, 7.2 points per game

Chris Session, Senior, Forward, 2.6 points per game

Chaz Spicer, Senior, Forward, 7.9 points per game

54 Clemson Ľ Complete List Ľ 52 DePaul

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