Utah State’s Neemias Queta set to return for 2019-20 season

Utah State Aggies center Neemias Queta (23) stands on the court during the first half against the New Mexico Lobos in the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, NV, on March 14. The Utah State Aggies won against the New Mexico Lobos, 91-83, to advance in the semifinals of the Mountain West Championship.

LOGAN, Utah – Utah State center Neemias Queta made an announcement over Twitter on Tuesday that he will be returning for the 2019-20 season. Queta had declared for the 2019 NBA Draft and was one of just 66 players in the nation that was extended an invitation to participate in the NBA Draft Combine.

“It was a great experience to be involved with the NBA Draft combine and it really helped me to know where I need to improve,” Queta said. “We have a really good team coming back and I’m excited to get stronger and get better.”

Queta was named the Mountain West Freshman and Defensive Player of the Year in 2018-19 after shattering the single-season blocks record at USU and helping the Aggies to their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2011. Queta finished the year with 84 blocks, far surpassing the previous school record of 59, set by Shawn Daniels during the 2000-01 season. Queta led the Mountain West and finished 14th in the nation with 2.4 blocks per contest. He started the year with at least one block in 29 straight games, the longest such streak in Utah State history, and recorded at least one rejection in all but one game during the year. Queta recorded a season-high six blocks in two games this season, matching the third-most blocks in a game in Utah State history and setting a Mountain West freshman record.

Utah State’s Neemias Queta dunks the basketball in the game against San Jose State in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in Logan, Utah, on Jan. 30, 2019. Utah State won the game, their fifth consecutive win, with a final score of 103-73. (Megan Nielsen)

In addition to his defense, Queta finished second on the team with 11.8 points per game and led the team with 8.9 rebounds per game. Queta scored in double figures in 24 games and logged a team-best 10 double-doubles during the year. Queta’s team-leading 312 rebounds during the year marked the first time an Aggie has surpassed 300 rebounds in a season since the 1976-77 campaign and marked a USU freshman record.

Queta’s other individual accolades included being named second-team all-Mountain West, Mountain West all-tournament team, second-team all-district 17 by the National Association of Basketball Coaches and all-district VIII by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.

Queta will be one of four starters returning for Utah State in 2019-20, including Mountain West Player of the Year Sam Merrill, who led the Aggies with 20.9 points, 4.2 assists and 1.1 steals per game. Other returners include guards Brock Miller and Abel Porter. Miller finished second on the team last year with 70 3-point field goals, the second-most by a freshman in school history, while Porter led the Aggies at the point and knocked down the game-winning trey at New Mexico, giving Utah State a 68-66 victory.

In addition to the starters, USU returns two other letterwinners in guard Diogo Brito, who was regarded as one of the best sixth men in the Mountain West, and forward Justin Bean, who finished third on the team in offensive rebounding a season ago.

“This has been a great process for Neemias. He gained both valuable feedback from NBA personnel and experiences that will help him in the future at Utah State and beyond,” head coach Craig Smith said. “Neemias is a fantastic player, but what sets him apart is his character and what he stands for as a person. I know he loves Utah State University and he can’t wait to get to work.”

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