We are nearly one week away from the start of the 2023-24 men’s basketball season. In the final edition of our preseason voting, we will examine who our team views as the top-10 players in the conference. (Note: We had five voters for this section.)
Let’s hop into it!
1. Isaiah Stevens, G, Colorado State (tie)
There was a tie for the top spot, though Stevens had the most first-place votes amongst our five panelists, granting him the top spot. Stevens earned preseason MW Player of the Year honors in real life and from our site vote, so this isn’t a surprise.
2. Jaelen House, G, New Mexico (tie)
House had one first-place vote, but still tied Stevens for the best player. It’s not hard to tell why; he operates the MW’s best offense with pace and control. He’s incredibly effective inside the arc and is one of the conference’s best point-of-attack defenders.
3. Tyson Degenhart, F, Boise State
Degenhart took a big step back in his efficiency last season, but improved to 14.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. He’s a battering ram in the post and one of the MW’s most skilled wings who can play as a small-ball 5, even though there won’t be as much pressure to do that this season.
4. Jamal Mashburn Jr., G, New Mexico
Mashburn is a mid-range master; the 6-foot-2 guard led the MW in scoring last year, posting 19.1 points on 52.1 percent true shooting. He also shot 38.2 percent from deep on steady volume (3.8 3PA). Mashburn is a pure bucket-getter for a top-30 offense in Division-I. That matters.
5. Lamont Butler, G, San Diego State
Butler is one of the MW’s top two-way talents. He was oftentimes hounding opponents’ best ballhander at the point-of-attack—especially in the NCAA Tournament—while showcasing secondary creation offensively. His 8.8 points and 3.2 assists don’t stand out, but his impact goes way beyond the raw numbers on both ends.
6. Jarod Lucas, G, Nevada
Lucas is arguably the MW’s top 3-point shooter, knocking down 79 triples at a 37.8 percent clip a year ago. Lucas can also get his own off the bounce and is an improved finisher. But his lightning-quick release strikes fear in defenses, which opens up Nevada’s offense plenty.
7. Jaedon LeDee, F, San Diego State
LeDee, standing at 6-foot-9, will presumably be Nathan Mensah’s replacement in the frontcourt. He averaged 7.9 points and 5.3 rebounds in his first-and-only season with the Aztecs. The former Ohio State and TCU transfer is exceptional as a defender who can switch almost every position and hold his own with good length, balance and feet.
8. Kenan Blackshear, F, Nevada
Blackshear operated as Nevada’s point forward last year, averaging 14.1 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.5 steals on 53.7 percent true shooting. Blackshear is a strong slasher who can switch multiple 3-4 positions, forming a sturdy defensive tandem alongside wing Tre Coleman.
9. Darrion Trammell, G, San Diego State
In his first season with San Diego State last season, Trammell averaged 9.8 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.3 steals in 27.2 minutes per game across 38 contests. Trammell, at 5-foot-10, developed as a two-way lead guard throughout the season and will look to carry that momentum into his senior season.
10. Max Rice, G, Boise State
Rice underwent a true breakout season as a senior, averaging 14.0 points and 4.6 rebounds on 43.4 percent shooting, including 40.9 percent from distance on 5.3 triple tries per game. He was No. 5 in 3-point makes (74) and is a very potent spot-up threat from distance.