It seems like forever ago that San Diego State men's basketball suited up for its preseason contest with Point Loma Nazarene University. It also seems like twice as long a wait until SDSU opens its season against Cal State University, Northridge on Friday. In attempt to make the wait a little more bearable, let's look back at some individual performances from last Friday that stood out.
Winston Shepard - 16 points, 10 rebounds (7 offensive), 50 percent shooting, and 2 steals.
On any given night, chances are it'll be either Winston Shepard or Dwayne Polee II leading the Aztecs on the offensive end. This time it was Shepard, who was everywhere on the court on Friday. Listed as a guard on the official depth chart, Shepard played a fairly balanced game and maintained offensive assertiveness throughout both halves. He shot 7-14 from the field in the contest (4-7 in the first half) and didn't attempt a single 3-pointer.
Although a development in 3-point shooting would be a welcomed asset in Shepard's game, don't be discouraged by the lack of attempts on Friday night. The truth is, Shepard never really had to put any up. He was around the ball constantly and had a plethora of scoring chances in the paint which were results of both his offensive rebounding and good passing from his teammates. Shepard will have to shoot a few more jumpers against better competition to keep defenders honest, but Friday was just an example of Shepard finding a niche within the flow of the game and not trying to do too much in exhibition.
Three turnovers to one assist and 2-4 shooting from the line were the only blips on Shepard's stat sheet. Unfortunately, those are two areas of concern from last season, so watch how those margins fluctuate in the early part of this season.
Trey Kell - 10 points, 50 percent from the field, 2 assists, 2-2 on free throws, led the team with 25 minutes
Trey Kell made somewhat of a splash when his name surfaced as head coach Steve Fisher's starting point guard. Fisher has said his starting five will be subject to change throughout the year, but Kell showed why the coaching staff has faith in his ability at the point. The true freshman was by no means hesitant to attack, driving to the hoop on multiple occasions. The game was pretty close through the first eight or nine minutes and Kell wasn't afraid to initiate offense and get his team going. He showed examples of his heightened basketball IQ by getting to the line and finishing around the rim. The competition level will increase in a short span for Kell and the Aztecs, but there's no doubt he left an impression on fans in his Viejas Arena debut.
J.J. O'Brien - 9 points, 6 rebounds and shot 66 percent from the field.
It's no surprise that O'Brien's performance went widely unnoticed -- it's probably how he'd prefer it. He was SDSU's third-leading scorer behind Shepard and Kell, but he was by far the most efficient from the floor. O'Brien converted four of six shot attempts including a missed 3-ball in the first half. He also pulled down five defensive rebounds. You can't ask for much more from one of your team leaders.
Angelo Chol - 7 points on 3-5 shooting, and 3 rebounds in 19 minutes.
Transfer junior Angelo Chol got his first taste of on-court action as an Aztec on Friday. His first bucket came on a nice turn-around shot in the low block after he had backed his defender down. His second was a spot up 13-foot jumper that found nothing but net. In the second half he converted a 3-point play after finishing in the paint with defenders all over him. In all three instances Chol showed the strength, athleticism and finesse that make him one of the most important pieces of Steve Fisher's bench unit.
Video Highlights courtesy of GoAztecs.com.