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Mountain West Basketball Countdown: #13 - Malik Pope

The second Aztec appears in the MW countdown.

NCAA Basketball: Colorado State at San Diego State Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

With Malik Pope opting to return to school, the Aztecs retain one of the premier players in the conference talent-wise.

Pope, the 55th overall player from 2014 ESPN class, was expected to jump straight to the pros following his freshman season but he struggled to display his worth to various NBA scouts and coaches. Although Pope averaged 2.2 more points per game as a sophomore, he still has yet to truly maximize his potential in an SDSU uniform.

Offensive efficiency rating, box plus/minus, and field goal percentage all took a notable dip from Pope’s freshman to sophomore season. The Aztecs, however, do remain nearly unbeatable when Pope brings his ‘A’ game, going 16-1 in games in which Pope scores eight or more points.

There is so much to like about Malik Pope that it’s impossible to keep him out of the top 15 in our list. Eventually, we anticipate that Pope will break out for an extended period, and San Diego State will excel as a result. Pope played arguably his best basketball down the stretch, including a double-double of 19 and 11 against Fresno State in the MWC Championship. If Pope can carry that positive momentum into this season, the Aztecs will be nearly unbeatable in league play.

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