Boise State basketball is back ladies and gentleman!
Football has driven the bus this fall, but basketball season should never be taken for granted as the defending Mountain West champions take the court at ExtraMile Arena tonight against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits.
Before I dive into tonight’s season opener, let’s take a look at the 2022-2023 roster.
After testing the NBA draft waters this past summer, Akot, to the surprise of many, elected not to return to Boise. Instead, he entered the transfer portal where he initially chose to join Penny Hardaway and the Memphis Tigers. That did not last long as Akot reentered the transfer portal and wound up at Western Kentucky. His unique size as a ballhandler was influential in the Bronco offense, but Marcus Shaver’s return lessens the loss of Akot.
Starting his career at East Tennessee State, Armus joined the Broncos prior to the 2020-2021 season. His forceful presence inside created an extra sense of toughness that will be tough to replicate. He chose not to exercise his last year of eligibility, instead, furthering his professional interests of playing in Europe. Lukas Milner is projected to fill the starting center position.
The heart and soul of the 2021 Boise State Broncos, Kigab used his final year of eligibility to lead the Broncos to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015. A defensive stalwart and consistent personality, he acted as the quarterback on a veteran-laden team that was exquisite on the defensive side of the ball. While he did go undrafted in the 2022 NBA draft, he played with the Toronto Raptors during Summer League and is currently on the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, a G-League affiliate. There is hope that Texas Tech transfer Chibuzo Agbo can step up and fill some very large shoes left by Kigab.
Pryor transferred after the end of last year and found his way to Northwest Florida State College, a JUCO institution. He had limited playing time during his tenure in Boise and still has multiple years of eligibility remaining.
Sadraque Nganga (True Freshman)
Nganga comes to Boise as the highest-rated recruit in the history of Boise State’s basketball program. He had loads of interests coming out of high school from the likes of Kansas, Oklahoma, Auburn and Arizona, among others. However, injuries plagued the tail end of his career and his name slightly fell off the radar. At 6-10 and 220 lbs., he has the physical makeup to be a game-changing player. It will take time for him to flourish, but we’ve seen what a few weeks of experience can do for a freshman (looking at you, Tyson Degenhart).
Jace Whiting (True Freshman)
A local out of Burley, Idaho, Whiting’s only offer was to Boise State. He did show flashes of great play during the exhibition game against Carroll College. It would not be a shock if he is able to not only crack the rotation, but be a pivotal piece off of the bench. This is not a case of a feel-good local story. He will be productive and Leon Rice will use him to give Marcus Shaver rest on the bench.
Vince Barringer (True Freshman)
Another sizable guard, Barringer comes from Mountain View, California. Standing at 6-6 and 219 lbs., Barringer will likely see time on the bench and see limited minutes during the latter stages of the 2nd half.
Kade Rice (True Freshman)
No, that last name isn’t a coincidence. Kade joins his brother, Max, on the Broncos under head coach and dad Leon Rice. He will come on as a walk-on after spending three years at Bishop Kelly High School in Boise and one year at Link Academy in Missouri. It is expected that Kade will redshirt this year.
Chibuzo Agbo - Transfer via Texas Tech (Junior)
Agbo makes his way from Lubbock, Texas, after spending two seasons with the Red Raiders. I see him as a more offensive-version of Abu Kigab that can perform on both ends of the floor. Bronco nation will be pleased with his outings as I envision him being a top-three scorer this year.
Mohamed Sylla - Transfer via Detroit-Mercy (Senior)
Boise State has dealt with Mountain West rim protectors for years, yearning for one of their own. Sylla appears to fit that build with his long wingspan and decent athleticism. He can run the floor and act as a nice piece of the bench. He may challenge for more playing time as the season goes on, creating a duo of big men in Lukas Milner and Sylla.
Projected Starting Five
Guard - Marcus Shaver Jr.
Guard - Max Rice
Forward - Chibuzo Agbo
Forward - Tyson Degenhart
Center - Lukas Milner
6th Man: Naje Smith
BOISE STATE (0-0) VS SOUTH DAKOTA STATE (0-1)
Location: Boise, Idaho (ExtraMile Arena)
Date/Time: Wednesday, November 9th at 7:00 p.m. (Mountain Time)
Streaming: Mountain West Network
Radio: KBOI 670 AM
Head-to-Head: This is the first time the Broncos and Jackrabbits have played in recent history.
Keys to Watch
- Is South Dakota State energized after a tight loss to Akron on Monday?
- Who is “The Guy” for Boise State this year on offense?
- Can the Bronco defense be reminiscent of last year’s tourney squad?
South Dakota State: Forward Matt Dentlinger at 15 PPG.
Boise State: N/A
Via DraftKings, Boise State is favored by 6.5 and the total is set at 145.5.
First game of the season with plenty of new pieces bodes for some uncertainty, but with the core of Marcus Shaver Jr., Max Rice and Tyson Degenhart, I see the Broncos celebrating last year’s conference championship with a win in ExtraMile Arena.
Boise State 68 - South Dakota State 56