San Diego State Aztecs season in review


Credit: Deanna Gold/EVT Sports

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SDSU’s bench congratulates the on-court Aztecs. (Justin Mojica/EVT)

San Diego State’s 2023-24 season proved to be a special one. One year after a National Championship appearance, the Aztecs returned to the Sweet 16 to take on defending champions, UConn, in a rematch of last year’s title game. Just as the Huskies did in that title game, they pulled away from the Aztecs to advance and eventually win back-to-back championships.

The 30-point loss to UConn certainly hurt, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that this team had a tremendous season. Not only did they advance to the Sweet 16 (as a five seed) for the 4th time in 14 years, they advanced to the Mountain West Championship Game for the seventh consecutive time as a five seed as well. The Aztecs went 14-1 in front of their fans at Viejas Arena and went to The Kennel and took down Gonzaga on the road, a very rare thing to do.

Not to mention the rise of Jaedon LeDee. The senior from Houston, Texas, took the world by storm over the last few months with his dominant play on the court. LeDee was named an AP third-team All-American and won the Karl Malone Award as the top power forward in the country.

“I would like to thank the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Mr. Malone, and the selection committee for being named the 2024 Karl Malone Award Power Forward of the Year,” LeDee said. “I am truly humbled to have my name mentioned alongside Mr. Malone, a Hall of Famer, as well as past recipients of this honor; Obi Toppin, Drew Timme and Zion Williamson, among others. While this is an individual award and recognition, I would not be in this position without the support of my family, teammates, and coaches. They have all played an integral role in my development as a player and person.”

LeDee’s Special Season

It seemed as if LeDee earned an award or broke a new record after every game. That was pretty much the case.

The senior averaged 21.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.2 steals, and 0.5 blocks per game this season. He shot at an elite 56% rate while shooting 44.4% from beyond the arc. The forward played in every game this season except for one which was against UC Irvine. SDSU won 63-62 in San Diego.

LeDee dealt with roadblocks from time to time but ultimately improved as the season went on. He saved his best for last as he went on a tear in March. Starting with the first conference tournament game against UNLV, where he scored 34 points and grabbed 16 rebounds, LeDee went on to score 22+ points in the next four straight games. He scored an SDSU NCAA record 32 points against UAB in the first round of the March Madness Tournament. Facing the top team in the country in UConn, in the Sweet 16, LeDee finished with 18 points and eight rebounds.

Let’s catch you up on all the records and awards LeDee earned during his final season as an Aztec.

LeDee is first all-time in the SDSU single-season list for points (772), free throw attempts (308), made free throws (226), points/rebounds/assists (1,121), and field goals made (263). He is third in scoring average at (21.4). Furthermore, LeDee is the first Division I player since Obi Toppin in 2018 to average 20+ points on 55% shooting in the first five games of the season.

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The senior-forward would go on to be named First-Team All Conference. Outside of being named AP third-team All-American and winning the Karl Malone Award, LeDee accomplished a lot more. LeDee was named a second-team All-American by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), Sporting News (SN), NCAA March Madness, and Field of 68. He was also named as a John Wooden Award All-American.

“This is a great honor for Jaedon,” head coach Brian Dutcher said, “and I couldn’t be happier for or prouder of him in being named the Karl Malone Award winner. Jadeon is the epitome of what a student athlete should be, excelling both in the classroom and on the court, where he has become one of the most dominant players in college basketball.His work ethic is a model for anyone who wants to excel in their chosen field, and shows if you put in the work, you can achieve great things. Jaedon is a perfect example of that and a great representative of the Malone Award.”

Furthermore, LeDee won Conference Player of the Week twice, and then on 11/20, was named NCAA March Madness National Player of the Week, Oscar Robertson Award National Player of the Week, ESPN National Player of the Week, and finally, Lute Olson National Player of the Week. He was also named the Continental Tire Main Event MVP for his play in the wins against Saint Mary’s and Washington in Las Vegas.

Credit: Deanna Gold/EVT Sports

You could make a case that LeDee had the greatest single season in San Diego State history and one of the top careers as an Aztec.

SDSU’s 2023-24 Resume

The Aztecs ended the regular season with an impressive NET rating of 20, thanks to their stellar defense and play against Quad 2, 3, and 4 opponents. SDSU lost just one game against a Quad 2 opponent which was on the road at UNLV late in the season but then beat them in the second round of the conference tournament a week later. The Aztecs finished 12-0 against Quad 3 & 4 opponents. In Quad 1 games, the Aztecs were only 4-9.

The Aztecs played the third toughest schedule in the nation based on RPI strength of schedule. The Mountain West was loaded this year. Seven teams had a chance to win the regular season, and Utah State found a way to pull it off.

SDSU made their 16th appearance in the Big Dance and fourth year in a row. Their NET rating and RPI awarded the Aztecs a 5-seed in the NCAA tournament once again. The Mountain West showcased six teams in the NCAA Tournament; however, only Colorado State, Utah State, and SDSU were able to win a game. Boise State, New Mexico, and Nevada all lost their first-round matchups.

Many questioned the seeding of the MW teams as many were low ranked in the 8-11 range. As a result, most lost their games against better teams. CSU took down Virginia in the First Four game but then lost by 12 to Texas in the Round of 68. Utah State took down TCU in the first round but then lost to Purdue, the national runner-up, in the Round of 32.

Once again, San Diego State carried the load for the conference.

After the Big Dance, their record against Quad 1 opponents updated to 4-10 after the loss to UConn in the Sweet 16. In Quad 2 games, they are 7-1 thanks to their win over Yale in the Round of 32, and in Quad 3 & 4 games, SDSU is now 13-0 after their win against UAB in the Round of 68.

Sweet 16, but not Top 16?

Despite the Aztecs advancing to the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive season, they finished the campaign ranked 17 in the final AP Poll, same as where they started the season. That rank stings a bit as it seemed SDSU had a difficult path in the NCAA Tournament, having to take on UConn in the East Regional semifinal. San Diego State also ranks below Gonzaga (15), who they beat this season, and Gonzaga also lost in the Sweet 16 to Purdue. Not to mention, Baylor being ahead of the Aztecs at 16 while not even making the Sweet 16 is a bit strange. Did they forget SDSU’s 30-point blowout win over Yale?

Either way, the Aztecs ended the season as the “17th” best team in the country, and that is a good sign. Head coach Brian Dutcher is proud of the run that his team has gone on over the last two seasons.

“I want to say it’s not the ending we will remember, it’s the journey.” Dutcher said. “The journey is everything and we had an incredible journey together. I take great joy here tonight (with these guys sitting next to me) that they are 7-2 on college basketball’s biggest stage over the last two years. It’s something you take great pride in.”

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