The San Diego State Aztecs men’s basketball team went from one of the worst teams in the country to a recurring Top 25 team in just a matter of a couple of decades. The Aztecs’ meteoric rise to the mid-major powerhouse that they are now can be attributed to many different factors.
Of course, the biggest reason is former Aztecs head coach and NCAA legend Steve Fisher, who retired and handed over the keys of the program to Brian Dutcher. The Aztecs became regulars in the NCAA Tournament and went from the bottom of the conference to the conference favorite year after year.
Dutcher met with the media on Tuesday to discuss their newest transfer.
The Success in the Transfer Portal
One of the biggest reasons for their success has been their ability to recruit transfers. The NCAA transfer portal- something that’s become more and more popular in recent years- has been a huge benefit to the Aztecs.
“I’m trying to put a team together for next season,” Dutcher said to kick off the press conference on Tuesday. “The transfer portal grows by the day.”
That’s an understatement. This year the NCAA has allowed an extra year of eligibility, and the transfer portal has been as active as ever. Granted, we aren’t even a month removed from the NCAA Championship game.
“He just is a warrior,” Dutcher said of Bradley. “He’s an elite defender, which you have to be to play at San Diego State.”
Defense is obviously the calling card for the Aztecs. For the Aztecs’ newest addition, he can do a lot on the offensive end, which is huge for SDSU, especially after losing Matt Mitchell and Jordan Schakel.
“He’s immensely talented at the offensive end. He’s a 1,000-point scorer already. He scores at all three levels,” Dutcher said of his offensive skills.
The addition of Bradley is going to provide the Aztecs with a lot of roster flexibility. Although Mitchell and Schakel are headed for the pros along with Terrell Gomez. The good news is that Joshua Tomaic and Trey Pulliam announced they would return to the program.
“Come on, how good did he ply down the stretch? I think the best is yet to come,” Dutcher said about Pulliam, who took the reins and led the offense and provided a much-needed spark for the Aztecs group last season.
As for Tomaic, the COVID protocols last summer provided a ton of difficulty for the Aztecs staff with guys like that.
“Joshua is very talented and didn’t play the minutes he deserved at Marland,” Dutcher said. “We didn’t get to work with these kids. We had no summer with him and very limited fall access. We get a full summer with him to fine-tune. That should help his game immensely.”
Four Year Players
However, Dutcher echoed that four-year guys are a vital part of the success of the Aztecs’ program. Schakel and Mitchell both stuck around for four years.
“I think the days of having four-year guys are over. With that being said, we want four-year guys in the program. Those are the ones that best represent your culture.”
The Aztecs coaching staff has done a tremendous job in developing and grooming players year after year, and the handful of losses in the past two seasons are a huge testament to that. The staff finds the right guys, and not just any guys, to add to the program.
“You have to fall in love with character,” Dutcher said. “We aren’t just out there taking anybody that’s talented. We do our homework and do a good job researching the kids beyond basketball.”
San Diego State always tries to find the right guys, and so far, they have done a terrific job year after year, specifically in the transfer portal. Malachi Flynn and Yanni Wetzell, as well as KJ Feagin, were key additions to the Aztecs team that was destined for a top seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Surely the Aztecs aren’t done yet with the transfer portal. With more and more players entering every day, the pool continues to grow, and San Diego State should add another player or two.
As for Bradley, the Aztecs are definitely excited to add him to their roster. “Matt felt we were a great fit for him, and obviously, he’s a great fit for us.”
The Aztecs always play a tough schedule, and this past year games against BYU, Arizona State, and UCLA were the highlights of the non-conference schedule.
“A lot of the scheduling is what are we gonna be like? What pieces have we added? We try to play as many good people as will play us. Finding games might be the hardest thing we do in this program.”
San Diego State should have some suitors, although the success of their program might be a reason why these teams are saying no.
There’s still a ton of names, and the roster- as it stands now- should be more than enough.
“I like our team that’s coming back. We’re going to be very, very competitive. Keshad has gotten better every year in the program. Keith Dinwiddie, we saw him shoot the lights out daily in practice. Adam Seiko played a role for us.”
Not to mention the two returnees, Bradley, Butler, and Mensah, and the Aztecs have a stacked roster heading into the 2021-2022 season.
With lots of rumors swirling and the NCAA still finalizing details on the one and two-year transfer rules, there should be much more movement- not just for San Diego State, but for all of college hoops.