San Diego State Aztecs
Overall Rank: #46
Conference Rank: #2 Mountain West
2006-07: 22-11, 10-6, 3rd (t)
2006-07 postseason: NIT
San Diego State was already losing their top two scorers. With the late departure of the number three scorer, the Aztecs are sliding down the preseason rankings. However, many pundits are overreacting to the sudden departure and SDSU will still be around the top of the Mountain West Conference. Once the season gets underway and Coach Steve Fisher has a little time to reorganize and refocus his team, they will be a tough out.
Brandon Heath averaged 19.3 points, 3.6 assists and 3.8 rebounds. Mohamed Abukar added 15.8 points and 5.8 rebounds. Losing those two would hurt, but losing Jerome Habel and his 10.9 points and team high 6.2 rebounds per contest has brought up the dreaded rebuilding word. Little used David Velasquez will also not be suiting up for the Aztecs during the 2007-2008 campaign. Despite the losses, the team has plenty of talent to work with. The question is how well can they come together and step up into the bigger roles left behind by Heath, Abukar and Habel.
Ryan Amoroso would probably have been starting anyway, but his role under the basket will be increased greatly with the departure of Habel. The 6-8 transfer from Marquette will score from inside and out. Amoroso averaged 5.6 points and 4.0 rebounds two years ago with the Golden Eagles and he will get an opportunity to make a huge impact at San Diego State. Junior college transfer Kelvin Davis might use his experience to work his way into the starting lineup. Davis played at UTEP as a freshman before heading to College of Southern Idaho for one year and should develop into a solid scorer. The frontcourt will add forwards Tim Shelton and Billy White. Shelton and White are a little undersized to play the four, but they will if Coach Fisher needs them to do so. White is either an undersized forward or a big guard, but either way he is a great athlete. Bryan Horton will not be the most talented player around, but he could be a quality shooter off the bench as a freshman. D.J. Gay will be the point guard of the future for the Aztecs. He is a scoring lead guard and is not afraid to shoot when the opportunity presents itself.
Who to Watch:
The perimeter group has some talent returning. Point guard Richie Williams may make too many mistakes, but he did improve as last season progressed. Williams averaged 7.0 points and 4.0 assists as a sophomore. The turnovers will go down with experience and Williams has developed into a decent shooter. Last year he shot nearly 46 percent from long range. The most dangerous scorer on the team is Lorrenzo Wade. Wade is a superb athlete and the former Louisville player averaged 10.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists his first season with the Aztecs. Wade is going to have to be the explosive and go-to scorer for the team if they expect to make the NCAA Tournament. His outside shooting is a little questionable, but he should be able to answer the call and become the leader on the floor.
Kyle Spain is undersized at 6-5, but he has quietly put together a solid career. Spain averaged 6.6 points and 4.6 rebounds last season and should drastically increase those numbers without Abukar and Habel taking up all the points and rebounds. Chris Lamb earned four starts last year, but the 6-10 center rarely saw the floor. He will get more of an opportunity this year and it will be very helpful if he can handle a larger workload. Jer’Vaughn Johnson is a little smaller at 6-6, but he is incredibly strong and is not afraid to mix it up under the basket. The Aztecs will need everything to go right if they want to win the conference, but they will not have to win the conference to reach the NCAAs. The loss of the top three scorers is big, but it is not as bad as it sounds and SDSU should be disappointed without a postseason berth.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Richie Williams, Junior, Guard, 7.0 points per game
Kelvin Davis, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Lorrenzo Wade, Junior, Forward, 10.5 points per game
Kyle Spain, Junior, Forward, 6.6 points per game
Ryan Amoroso, Junior, Forward, DNP last season