LOGAN, Utah – Utah State men’s basketball has been selected third in the annual preseason Mountain West men’s basketball poll, as announced by the conference offices on Tuesday morning. The prediction is the highest for the Aggies since joining the Mountain West and highest since USU was selected to win the Western Athletic Conference in its final season in the league during the 2012-13 season.
“We’ve got five starters returning and experience means a lot and will always mean a lot in college basketball,” head coach Tim Duryea said of the Aggies’ spot in the poll. “It is a great place to start.”
Defending champion San Diego State was selected first in the poll, receiving 22 of 25 first-place votes and 272 points. Boise State followed in second place with a pair of first-place votes and 234 points. Utah State was third with 190, UNLV in fourth with 185 and Fresno State in fifth with 182 points and the final first-place vote.
“The Mountain West has gone through San Diego State for quite a while and will continue to do so until someone proves otherwise,” Duryea said. “Boise had a great year last year and has three really good players returning. It is no surprise that people hold them in high regard.”
New Mexico (164) and Colorado State (144) were selected sixth and seventh, with Wyoming (101), Nevada (97), Air Force (51) and San José State (30) rounding out the poll in eighth through 11th.
Utah State was without a player on the preseason all-Mountain West team, made up of Fresno State senior guard Marvelle Harris, Boise State redshirt senior guard Anthony Drmic, Boise State junior forward James Webb III, Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams and San Diego State senior forward Winston Shepard. Harris was also picked as the preseason Player of the Year.
New Mexico junior forward Tim Williams and UNLV freshman Stephen Zimmerman rounded out the preseason honors as Newcomer and Freshman of the Year, respectively.
Utah State returns all five starters from a team that went 18-13 in 2014-15, including an 11-7 mark in the Mountain West. The 11 victories are the most by any second-year program in league history. Returners include all three of Utah State’s all-conference performers in junior wing Jalen Moore (second team), sophomore forward David Collette (third team) and senior guard Chris Smith (honorable mention). Senior guard Darius Perkins and sophomore guard Julion Pearre round out the returning starting five for Utah State.
In addition to the five returning starters, the Aggies also return four other letterwinners in senior wing Trace Cureton, sophomore forward Elston Jones, sophomore guard Henry Bolton III and junior guard Viko Noma’aea. USU also returns three redshirts in senior forward Grayson Moore, junior forward Lew Evans and freshman forward Quinn Taylor.
Utah State will welcome four newcomers to the mix, with each set to provide scoring potential and depth. Junior transfer Shane Rector is the most experienced of the bunch, having played last season at Miami Dade College and pouring in 17.4 points, 5.5 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game for the Sharks. Rector originally signed with Missouri out of high school, appearing in 23 games as a true freshman with the Tigers.
Sophomore forward Alexis Dargenton also brings junior college experience after having played one year at Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne, Wyo. Dargenton scored 12.4 points per game, led the Golden Eagles with 7.7 rebounds per game and was active defensively, recording at least one steal in all but four games and at least one block in 21 games during the year.
Freshman guard Jake Miles is another returned missionary, having served in the Colorado Springs, Colo., mission for the past two years. Prior to his service, Miles was the Utah 3A MVP in 2013 out of Morgan High School, leading the Trojans to the state title while scoring 24.7 points per game and adding 3.3 steals, 3.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists per outing.
Freshman guard John Middleton rounds out Utah State’s roster, joining the team from Holy Spirits High School in Atlantic City, N.J., where he was a four-year varsity letterwinner and three-year starter. Middleton averaged 17.8 points and 7.4 assists during his senior year.
The Aggies will host a pair of exhibition games against Oklahoma Panhandle State and Cal State Monterey Bay on Saturday, Oct. 31, and Friday, Nov. 6, before opening the 2015-16 campaign on the road at Weber State on Friday, Nov. 13. USU will open at home in the first of 16 home contests on Tuesday, Nov. 17, against Adams State.
Fans are encouraged to circle Oct. 20 on their calendars when the Utah State men’s basketball team will host an open practice. The 3-hour session will begin at 3:30 p.m. in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
USU men’s basketball season ticket renewals, new season tickets and mini-plans are now on sale. Fans can purchase season tickets, starting at $230 and three-, four-, six- and nine-game mini-plans for as little as $30. For more basketball ticket information, fans can contact the USU Athletics Ticket Office over the phone by calling 1-888-USTATE-1 or 435-797-0305 during regular hours of operation. Fans can also buy their tickets in person at the USU Ticket Office inside the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum or online by clicking on the “Buy Tickets” tab at www.UtahStateAggies.com. Fans can begin purchasing men’s single game tickets, starting at $17, on Oct. 5 for Big Blue Scholarship Fund members, on Oct. 12 for season ticket holders and on Oct. 17 for the general public.
Utah State men’s basketball news and information is available on Facebook facebook.com/USUmen’sbasketball and on Twitter @Aggiehoops. Fans can also get USU men’s basketball highlights on YouTube at youtube.com/UtahStateAthletics. Aggie fans can follow the Utah State athletic program at Twitter @USUAthletics, on Facebook at facebook.com/USUAthletics, or on Instagram @USUAthletics.
2015-16 Mountain West Preseason Poll
1. San Diego State 272 (22)
2. Boise State 234 (2)
3. Utah State 190
4. UNLV 184
5. Fresno State 182 (1)
6. New Mexico 164
7. Colorado State 144
8. Wyoming 101
9. Nevada 97
10. Air Force 51
11. San José State 30
2015-16 Preseason All-MW Team
Marvelle Harris, G, Sr., Fresno State
Winston Shepard, F, Sr., San Diego State
Anthony Drmic, G/F, Sr., Boise State
James Webb III, F, Jr., Boise State
Josh Adams, G, Sr., Wyoming
Preseason Player of the Year
Marvelle Harris, G, Sr., Fresno State
Preseason Newcomer of the Year
Tim Williams, F, Jr., New Mexico
Preseason Freshman of the Year
Stephen Zimmerman, Fr, Fr., UNLV