Aztecs ranked first in Mountain West preseason polls

Credit: Don De Mars Photography/EVT

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Credit: Don De Mars Photography/EVT

On Thursday, the Mountain West released its preseason poll. As expected, the San Diego State Aztecs stand at the top of the conference.

Boise State was picked to finish second, followed by New Mexico, Nevada, and Colorado State to round out the top five.

The top four squads in the conference played very well last season. One team that took the biggest fall in the rankings was Utah State. The Aggies were picked to finish 9th in the conference despite losing 62-57 in the Mountain West Tournament Final last year to SDSU. Utah State’s roster will look very different from a year ago.

According to the league, Boise State is the clear runner-up. They finished 24-10 overall and 13-5 in the conference last season and have high expectations this year.

Tyson Degenhart was named to the Preseason All-Conference team as one of the better players in the Mountain West. The Broncos did not lose a single starter to the transfer portal. They have a solid group of players returning who are motivated to win.

Despite all that, the Aztecs deserve to be at the top. While only four players return from last year’s incredible run, they have recruits and transfers ready to make an impact. SDSU head coach Brian Dutcher has an elite core of players ready to wear the Aztec uniform for the first time. One of those transfers is former Campbell forward Jay Pal.

“We are getting after it every day,” Pal said on an upcoming episode of The SDSU Podcast. “We know we are held to high standards coming off last year and that deep run in the tournament. We have high expectations not just from the fans but from ourselves, and we are ready for the challenge.”

Not only are the Aztecs picked by the coaches to finish 1st, but the coaches also selected Lamont Butler to the Preseason All-Conference team.

Pal talked a bit about Butler’s game and what he has seen or learned from it in his short time in San Diego.

“(Butler) is a great person on and off the court,” Pal said. “He is the definition of a leader. He is always pushing guys, and a lot of guys follow his lead. He has very good respect from me since I have been out here.”

The final preseason award SDSU took home this week was Newcomer of the Year. USC transfer Reese Waters was given the honor. Pal said Waters has impressed him with his versatility, scoring ability, and mentality on and off the court.

The regular season begins on Nov. 6 when the Aztecs host Cal State Fullerton at Viejas Arena.

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