Mountain West announces 2014-15 preseason men’s basketball selections

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.– The Mountain West released its men’s basketball preseason media poll and All-Conference team today, as selected by a voting panel comprised of Conference media.

Defending Mountain West regular-season champion San Diego State is the overwhelming preseason favorite to win the men’s basketball regular-season title again in 2014-15. The Aztecs received 34 of a possible 35 first-place votes and 383 points to garner the top spot in the poll. Boise State claimed the remaining first-place vote and 275 points to earn a second-place nod, while defending MW tournament champion New Mexico garnered 270 points to finish third.

UNLV collected 269 points for fourth place, followed by Colorado State in fifth (258 points) and Wyoming (256 points) in sixth. Rounding out the poll were Fresno State (232 points) in seventh place, Nevada (126 points) in eighth, Air Force (102 points) in ninth, Utah State (98 points) in 10th and San José State (41 points) in 11th.

San Diego State amassed a 31-5 record overall and 16-2 mark in Mountain West action last season en route to capturing its second outright, and fourth overall, regular-season title. The Aztecs received their third straight NCAA tournament at-large invitation and advanced to the Sweet 16 for the second time in four years. A trio of starting forwards returns among eight letterwinners for 16th-year head coach Steve Fisher in senior JJ O’Brien and juniors Winston Shepard and Skylar Spencer, while Arizona transfer and junior forward Angelo Chol headlines SDSU’s class of six newcomers.

Boise State also returns eight letterwinners, including three starters, from a 2013-14 squad that compiled a 21-13 overall record and tied for fifth place in MW action with a 9-9 mark. Headlining Boise State’s cast of returnees for fifth-year head coach Leon Rice are All-MW senior forward Anthony Drmic and senior guards Derrick Marks and Igor Hadziomerovic. Eight newcomers join the Bronco ranks in 2014-15, led by senior guard/forward and Texas-Permian Basin transfer Rob Heyer.

New Mexico compiled a 27-7 overall record and 15-3 mark in Mountain West action a year ago, finishing second in Conference play before capturing its third straight MW tournament crown. The Lobos claimed the league’s automatic bid, earning their third consecutive NCAA tournament appearance and seventh straight postseason berth overall. Senior guard Hugh Greenwood and senior forward Deshawn Delaney are the lone starters back among six letterwinners for second-year head coach Craig Neal, while junior college transfer Jordan Goodman heads up the Lobos’ six-member class of newcomers.

Four seniors and one junior representing four institutions were chosen for the 2014-15 Preseason All-MW Team. Wyoming senior forward Larry Nance Jr. received Preseason MW Player of the Year honors, while San Diego State junior forward Angelo Chol garnered Preseason Newcomer of the Year accolades. Incoming UNLV guard Rashad Vaughn earned Preseason Freshman of the Year kudos.

The Mountain West will begin its 16th season of basketball competition on Friday, November 14.

2014-15 PRESEASON MEDIA POLL AND ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM

Rk. Team (First-Place Votes) Pts.

1. San Diego State (34) 383

2. Boise State (1) 275

3. New Mexico 270

4. UNLV 269

5. Colorado State 258

6. Wyoming 256

7. Fresno State 232

8. Nevada 126

9. Air Force 102

10. Utah State 98

11. San José State 41

Preseason All-Mountain West

Anthony Drmic, Sr., G/F, Boise State

Daniel Bejarano, Sr., G, Colorado State

Winston Shepard, Jr., F, San Diego State

Dwayne Polee II, Sr., F, San Diego State

Larry Nance Jr., Sr., F, Wyoming

Preseason Player of the Year

Larry Nance Jr., Sr., F, Wyoming

Preseason Newcomer of the Year

Angelo Chol, Jr., F, San Diego State

Preseason Freshman of the Year

Rashad Vaughn, Fr., G, UNLV

ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM BIOS

Preseason Player of the Year

Larry Nance Jr. (6-8, 225, Sr., F, Wyoming) – First-team All-MW selection in 2013-14 despite suffering a season-ending knee injury that caused him to miss the final five games of the Conference slate. At the time of his injury, he led the team and ranked among league leaders in MW-only games in points (14.5), rebounds (7.8), defensive rebounds (6.5), field goal percentage (50.4), steals (1.7), blocks (2.8) and minutes played (37.9). Scored in double figures in 11 of his 13 Conference games last season with two 20-point efforts and three double-doubles.

Anthony Drmic (6-6, 192, Sr., G/F, Boise State) – Second-team All-MW honoree in 2013-14. Led the Broncos with 14.8 points per MW game as a junior, ranking ninth in the Conference. Contributed 29 assists, eight steals and a 4.8 rebounding average against league opponents. In MW-only play, also ranked third in made 3-pointers (2.2 pg), fourth in free throw percentage (.843), and sixth in overall (.434) and 3-point (.376) field goal percentage. Scored in double digits 14 times in 17 MW games played in 2013-14, including three 20-point performances.

Daniel Bejarano (6-4, 202, Sr., G, Colorado State) – Second-team All-MW honoree in 2013-14. Started all 18 Conference contests. Is the league’s top returning scorer in MW play after ranking second with an 18.8 average last season. Also ranked second in MW-only games in made 3-pointers (2.6), seventh in 3-point field goal (.371) and free throw (.788) percentage, ninth in rebounding (7.5), and 10th in field goal percentage (.388) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.38). Scored in double figures in 16 of 18 MW contests, including 11 outings with 20 or points, and registered three double-doubles.

Winston Shepard (6-8, 205, Jr., F, San Diego State) – Top returning Aztec scorer in MW play from a year ago. Started all 18 Conference tilts in 2013-14, averaging 12.2 points while ranking 19th in the league with 5.4 rebounds per game. Shot 43.5 percent (74-of-170) from the field. Also tallied 39 assists, 13 steals and six blocked shots in league action. Amassed 14 double-figure scoring performances against Conference opponents and grabbed five or more rebounds in 12 of the 18 games.

Dwayne Polee II (6-7, 195, Sr., F, San Diego State) – Named the 2013-14 MW Sixth Man of the Year after contributing 6.7 points and 2.9 rebounds per game off the bench for the Aztecs in Conference action. Played in all 18 MW contests last season, averaging 16.9 minutes per contest. Shot 42.6 percent (43-of-101) from the field in those games, including 30.2 percent (13-of-43) from 3-point range, while also tallying 23 steals, 10 blocks and nine assists.

Preseason Newcomer of the Year

Angelo Chol (6-9, 225, Jr., F, San Diego State) – Sat out the 2013-14 season after transferring from Arizona. As a sophomore, was part of a 27-8 Wildcat squad that advanced to the Sweet 16 of the 2013 NCAA tournament. Played in all 35 of Arizona’s games his freshman season, tallying a team-high 29 blocked shots in 2011-12.

Preseason Freshman of the Year

Rashad Vaughn (6-6, 215, G, UNLV) – McDonald’s All-American who is rated as the No. 7 overall player in the country by Rivals, and No. 19 overall and No. 4 at his position in the ESPN 100 rankings. Averaged 19.9 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.2 steals per game in 2013-14 for Findlay College Prep, which posted a 31-5 record and reached the semifinals of the 2014 National High School Championship. Shot 52 percent from the field, 43 percent from 3-point range and 77 percent from the free-throw line as a senior.

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