Utah State men’s basketball ranked No. 17 in week 1 AP Poll

Utah State Aggies guard Abel Porter (15) and guard Diogo Brito (24) celebrate after winning against the San Diego State Aztec Warriors in the Mountain West Championship game in Las Vegas, NV, on March 16. The Aggies won against the Aztecs, 64-57, and will be an automatic berth in the NCAA March Madness Tournament.

LOGAN, Utah – Utah State men’s basketball is ranked No. 17 in the Week 1 Associated Press poll, as announced by the AP on Monday. It is just the third time in school history that the Aggies have appeared on the initial poll and the first time since the 1970-71 season, when USU was ranked No. 12 in the first poll of the year.

Utah State enters the 2019-20 season with a great deal of expectations after capturing both the MW regular season and tournament titles a season ago. The Aggies return six letterwinners and four starters, including MW Preseason Player of the Year Sam Merrill and preseason all-league selection Neemias Queta. They are joined by sophomore guard Brock Miller, who started in every game last season, and junior guard Abel Porter, who started at the point in each of the final 17 games last season and led the Aggies to a 15-2 record over that stretch.

The Aggies also benefit in the return of senior guard Diogo Brito, one of only three players returning in the Mountain West that played in more than 30 games last season and averaged more than 8.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steals per game. Sophomore forward Justin Bean rounds out the returners for the Aggies, saving one of his top performances of the year for the opening round of the MW Tournament a season ago after finishing with his first-career double-double of 14 points and 15 rebounds against New Mexico.

The six returners represented a large part of the Aggies’ success in 2019-20, accounting for 76.2 percent of the blocks (112/147), 73.6 percent of the assists (440/598), 73.4 percent of the points (2,020/2,752), 71.3 percent of the minutes (5,024/7,050), 68.8 percent of the steals (148/215) and 60.4 percent of the rebounds (848/1,404) logged during the 2018-19 season.

They are complemented by three returning redshirts in senior forward Roche Grootfaam, junior center Klay Stall and freshman center Trevin Dorius. Grootfaam and Stall were both in the program last year, but were rehabbing injuries, while Dorius was with the Aggies during the 2015-16 season and recently returned from a two-year LDS Mission in Arizona.

The roster is rounded out by six newcomers, including junior guard Marco Anthony, a transfer from the University of Virginia, junior guard Carson Bischoff, a transfer from Treasure Valley Community College, junior center Kuba Karwowski, a transfer from North Platte Community College, and junior forward Alphonso Anderson, a transfer from North Idaho College. Guard Sean Bairstow and forward Liam McChesney are the lone true freshmen on the squad.

Utah State hosts the College of Idaho in an exhibition contest on Wednesday, Oct. 30, before welcoming Montana State to the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum on Tuesday, Nov. 5, for the home opener at 8 p.m.

Utah State in the Initial AP Poll

1960-61                14th
1970-71                12th
2019-20                17th

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