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Revisiting Mountain West Top 25 Preseason Player Rankings

I take a look at how my preseason top 25 player rankings are shaping out halfway through the conference season.

NCAA Basketball: New Mexico at Nevada Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

With conference play halfway over, here’s a quick review of each of the 25 players from this summer’s preseason top 25 player countdown. I decided whether each player’s stock is up, medium or down compared to what the MWC Connection staff was anticipating heading into the season.

His scoring is down just a bit from last year (21.7 PPG to 18.5 PPG) as well as his shooting numbers, but Brown continues to guide a Lobo squad which appears is capable of contending for the Mountain West autobid in March. Stock: Medium

Oliver has developed a better perimeter shot this season, which should entice NBA scouts. The Wolf Pack sophomore already has five double-doubles this year, and is easily the best shot-blocker in the conference. Stock: Up

I still think Williams needs to touch the ball more. One of the premier scorers in the conference, the senior is 164th nationally in effective field goal percentage, but just 310th in shot attempt frequency and 500th in possession percentage. That needs to change. Stock: Medium

Clavell has been CSU’s rock. In 13 games since returning from injury and suspension, Clavell is averaging 18.5 points and 6.5 rebounds a night. In nine of his 13 appearances, he has logged 35 minutes or more. Stock: Up

It’s been an incredibly inconsistent year for Kell, as well as his Aztecs team. In nine of Kell’s 20 games, he has failed to shoot better than 35% from the field, including going 1-12 at Nevada. His three-point shooting percentage has dropped by 13.9% this season. Stock: Down

Even though Moore is a top five talent in this league, his productivity still continues to go unnoticed. A legitimate POY candidate in the preseason, Moore’s field goal percentage has gone from 43.9% to 50.0% this year, as he’s 6th in the MWC in offensive efficiency rating at 1.16 points per possession. He just needs some help. Stock: Up

The off-court scuffle with the New Mexico assistants was strange, but Omogbo has been solid (as expected) on the hardwood. When Omogbo scores 15 or more, the Rams are 7-2. He’s finished in double figures 12 times this season, 11 of those were double-doubles. Stock: Medium

Here’s the player of the year so far in the Mountain West this season. The Missouri State transfer who played just 26 games the past two seasons is averaging 21.1 points per outing, connecting on over 40% of his threes, and leads the conference in just about every major statistical offensive category. He’s completely transformed the Wolf Pack offense. Stock: Up

When he’s on, he’s on. When he’s off...well, the Aztecs struggle. Hemsley owns a healthy slash line of 15.0/2.7/2.5, but has five outings where he failed to score 10 points. An efficient duo of Hemsley and Kell would thoroughly dominate the MWC, but it just hasn’t been there so far this season. Stock: Medium

Duncan might be the most underwhelming player in the Mountain West through the end of January. He has declined each season in three-point percentage, and is shooting 7% worse from the field. The Australian perimeter threat has shot under 30% from deep in half of his 20 appearances, including 2-11 against Fresno State. Stock: Down

This has not been the season I was anticipating from the Wyoming guard. McManamen made an incredible jump from his sophomore to junior season, but this has been easily the worst shooting year of his Cowboy career. Points per game is down 2.8, three-point percentage has declined by 13.6% and offensive rating has gone from 120.5 to 102.1. Yikes. Stock: Down

It won’t be an incremental improvement in points and assists in Graham’s senior season, something he did his first three years at Air Force. His 1.08 points per possession is a career-high, but the MWC Connection staff thought Graham could have broken out this season. Stock: Medium

I feel for Malik Pope. Many forget, but this was a highly-regarded recruit that could have legitimately been a one-and-done NBA prospect. Injury issues (appeared in just 11 games) and untapped potential leave many Aztec fans wondering whether he will ever find his groove in an SDSU uniform. Stock: Down

D.J. Fenner is without a doubt the best #4 guy in the Mountain West. Because Nevada has three other 14+ PPG scorers, Fenner doesn’t get a ton of pub, but he is piecing together a nice senior season. With 13.7 PPG, 3.5 RPG and a 47.8/48.3/81.9 shooting slash line, he is as reliable as they come. Stock: Up

If San Jose State wasn’t 3-6 in conference play, Brandon Clarke would be the player of the year through the first three months. Clarke is averaging 18.7 points and 8.1 rebounds per game while shooting 60% from the floor and owns an impressive +25.1 net efficiency rating, especially given that he plays for SJSU. Stock: Up

It’s been a strange year for Fresno State’s senior center. Edo made his season debut on December 20 after an ongoing suspension, missing FSU’s first 11 games. Edo’s per-game averages are just about the same as last year, except he’s shooting way more threes for some reason (3-15 this season, 0-1 his past three seasons). Stock: Medium

Drew is better than last year, but the additions of Marcus Marshall and Jordan Caroline have eased the offensive pressure (and opportunities) for the sophomore point guard. We might have to wait another year for Drew to come out of his shell. Stock: Medium

Russo’s numbers are almost identical to last year. This is good and bad. Good because Fresno State needs solid production from its frontcourt, and bad because the trio of Russo, Paul Watson and Karachi Edo haven’t been all that impressive. Stock: Medium

At this point, Cheatham might be SDSU’s most consistent offensive option, a surprise given the returning backcourt of Trey Kell and Jeremy Hemsley. Cheatham has averaged 10.3 PPG, 6.5 RPG and 1.2 SPG for the Aztecs, and his defense (+3.9 DBPM is third on team) has been very impressive as well. Stock: Up

A total of 18 Falcons have appeared in a game this season, 15 of those average at least five minutes per game. It makes sense, then, why Lyons is playing just 27 MPG after a career-high 32.1 MPG last season. When he’s on the court, he remains a key piece to the Air Force offense, but has plenty of room to improve his shooting consistency. Stock: Down

I’m not sure many people - even Boise State fans - saw this coming for Chandler Hutchison. College basketball analysts have made the case that Hutchison is the most improved player across the country this season. His points per game average has gone from 6.8 to 17.7, rebounds from 4.1 to 8.7 and is 16 of 40 from deep after going just 7 of 27 his first two seasons. Stock: Up

Herndon hasn’t been exactly what I was projecting heading into the season, but the junior forward has been a decent contributor nonetheless. His shooting percentages have declined, though he is averaging a career-high 10 points per game to go with 6.0 rebounds. Stock: Medium

Austin’s shot has developed incrementally compared to last season, as his field goal percentage on 2-point jumpers has increased from 21.9% to 37.8%. That still isn’t great, but it adds another weapon to his already impressive offensive repertoire. He will be the MWC’s best point guard sooner or later. Stock: Up

Rector is slightly better than last season, but not by a ton. Even with two impressive offensive players in Jalen Moore and Koby McEwen on the roster, Rector’s assist rate of 19.5 is fairly average. His assists per game has dropped from 3.3 to 2.5. Stock: Medium

The freshman from Ontario has easily been the #2 option in the Utah State offense, scoring 14.7 points per game to go with 5.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists. He has also knocked down 43.7% of his attempts from beyond the arc. Stock: Up

Players we could have included in our preseason top 25 rankings (no specific order):

  • Justin James, Wyoming
  • Jaron Hopkins, Fresno State
  • Christian Jones, UNLV
  • Jordan Caroline, Nevada
  • Hayden Dalton, Wyoming

What are your thoughts on the preseason top 25 player rankings? Who did we miss? Leave a comment below or feel free to tweet at @boettger_eli and @MWCConnection on Twitter.