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San Diego State Basketball: Dwayne Polee II enters season in the spotlight

Senior forward Dwayne Polee II excelled in his role as the sixth man last year for the Aztecs, but with Xavier Thames and Josh Davis gone, Polee will most likely step into a starting role.

Dwayne Polee II rises for a slam dunk against Arizona in the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship
Dwayne Polee II rises for a slam dunk against Arizona in the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship
Jeff Gross

When San Diego State basketball hosted No. 6 Arizona last November, Dwayne Polee II didn't play a single minute in the 69-60 loss.

At that point in the season, no one was predicting that Polee would play a vital part in SDSU's 31-5 campaign. No one thought he'd be named Mountain West Sixth Man of the Year.

The 6-foot-7 senior forward averaged 8.5 points and 3.3 rebounds per game last year, while also shooting 39.1 percent from beyond the arc, which led the team.

The numbers don't begin to tell the story. The numbers don't mention his game-winning 3-pointer at Boise State last February, nor do they mention Polee's vital role in the 1-3-1 zone defense that the Aztecs employed so well in a come-from-behind win over No. 21 ranked New Mexico, a win that sealed a regular season Mountain West Conference Championship.

Polee is projected by many to be a starter this year. He was named to the Mountain West Men's Basketball Preseason All-Conference Team and garnered preseason attention from Bleacher Report and other sources.

He's tall, lanky, plays well and, along with being in the preseason media spotlight, is loved by SDSU's student section, "The Show."

And back to the 1-3-1 zone: he plays at the top of it, using his size and athleticism to disrupt opponents' offenses.

Head coach Steve Fisher said at a recent press conference that the team's identity is still a bit unknown. He said he doesn't know who will start in the exhibition against Point Loma on Nov. 7, and that his starting five may change throughout the season.

So if Fisher is still up in the air about who will start, it doesn't do much good to project that Polee will start -- much less predict he'll start for the entire season. As Fisher said, we may see several different starting lineups this year.

If Polee does start, however, he could not only average more than 10 points per game, but would also be a nuisance for opposing teams to deal with and could earn a spot on the MWC All-Defense team.

Could he keep that up for a whole game?

Polee is Fisher's battle-tested, "not-so-secret-anymore" weapon that can come off the bench and ignite a crowd and change the game in a small amount of time. But the jury is still out whether Polee can be that same player as a starter.

If he doesn't start, Angelo Chol would most likely take his place. But no matter what, Polee should get a lot of minutes this season, especially in critical moments.