Tuesday November 4th, 2014

Stud players have come and gone in recent years, yet San Diego State keeps right on winning. The first to depart was Kawhi Leonard, then Jamaal Franklin and now Xavier Thames, a three-year starter at point guard and 2014 Mountain West player of the year. His exit makes way for junior Winston Shepard, a 6-foot-8 swingman whose performance is finally matching his potential. “He read everything that was written, and he let all that bother him,” coach Steve Fisher says, “but he’s beyond that now.” Shepard’s versatility should help replace Thames’s offensive production, but the Aztecs’ strength remains their D: Last season they ranked in the top 10 in scoring defense, field goal percentage defense and three-point percentage defense.

At a time when young stars rule the game, Fisher has the benefit of an old-school lineup, which features two juniors and two fifth-year seniors. Those veterans will be joined by San Diego State’s best-ever freshman class, which includes three players who were top 100 recruits, as well as another former top 100 player in 6-9 junior Angelo Chol, a transfer from Arizona. That’s a fitting roster for a long-in-the-tooth coach. “I always say I hope to be playing on my birthday,” says Fisher, who’ll turn 70 on March 24. This team has all the pieces to grant him his wish.

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Projected top seven scorers

san diego state
name pos class ppg rpg apg o-rating
Winston Shepard F Jr 12.0 4.9 2.2 105.2
Dwayne Polee II F Sr 10.9 4.4 0.6 115.5
Matt Shrigley G So 8.4 2.8 1.0 114.9
Trey Kell G Fr 7.9 3.7 1.6 106.0
J.J. O'Brien F Sr 7.4 4.2 1.1 109.3
Kevin Zabo G Fr 7.4 2.8 2.6 102.0
Skylar Spencer F Jr 5.4 4.4 0.3 116.0

Projected Mountain West standings

rank team projected conf. record 2013-14 Conf. record
1 San Diego State 15-3 16-2
2 Wyoming 12-6 9-9
3 Colorado State 11-7 7-11
4 UNLV 11-7 10-8
5 Boise State 10-8 9-9
6 Fresno State 10-8 9-9
7 New Mexico 9-9 15-3
8 Nevada 7-11 10-8
9 Air Force 5-13 6-12
10 Utah State 5-13 7-11
11 San Jose State 4-14 1-17

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