We are nearing the end of non-conference play across the 2023-24 Mountain West basketball season. Even though the real money is made from here on out, let’s hand out some non-conference awards!
Player of the Year: Jaedon LeDee, F, San Diego State
Skinny: San Diego State might not have been the best MW team over this non-conference stretch, but LeDee has been the best player, respectfully. He leads the conference in scoring and rebounding, averaging a near 20-10 double-double. He’s been San Diego State’s offensive engine at the 5, topping the MW in usage percentage, win shares, win shares per 40 minutes, box plus-minus and player efficiency rating. The conference is filled with exceptional talent, but LeDee’s 12-game sample takes the cake among all others.
Coach of the Year: Niko Medved, Colorado State
Skinny: Coming off an underwhelming 15-18 campaign, Colorado State is a top-15 team for the first time in program history. A fully healthy Isaiah Stevens has plenty to do with that, but the Rams have another exceptional guard in Nique Clifford, a strong frontcourt in Joel Scott and Patrick Cartier and possess a top-10 offense in the country. This is a very strong group getting it done on both ends of the floor.
Freshman of the Year: JT Toppin, F, New Mexico
Skinny: I was admittedly higher on Tru Washington entering 2023-24, but Toppin has clearly surpassed my expectations and is on track to be one of the conference’s top freshmen this last decade. He’s averaging 12.8 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, but is a very versatile Swiss army knife who mucks things up for opposing offenses on the defensive end. He has a clearly defined role in Richard Pitino’s system alongside Jaelen House, Jamal Mashburn, Donovan Dent and Nelly Junior Joseph.
Newcomer of the Year: Great Osobor, F, Utah State
Skinny: Osobor and guard Darius Brown II followed Danny Sprinkle from Montana State to Utah State. Osobar started only three of his 69 career games with the Bobcats, but has started all 31 games with the Aggies and is perhaps the biggest reason why they’ve gotten off to a MW-leading 12-1 start. Osobor is tallying 17.3 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.6 blocks in 13 games on 56.3 percent shooting and 59.2 percent true shooting.
Defensive Player of the Year: Toppin
Skinny: I had a difficult time with this one; you could talk me into at least a dozen different candidates. But I’m rolling with Toppin, who’s top-10 in defensive rebounding percentage, steal percentage and block percentage. He’s got the goods, y’all.
Sixth Man of the Year: O’Mar Stanley, F, Boise State
Skinny: In the NBA, a player must come off the bench in more games than he starts to win this award. This isn’t the NBA, and we’re working with a compromised sample anyway, I’m slightly modifying it to where a player can come off the bench in “as many games” as he starts; Stanley, who’s started in half of his team’s 12 games, fits those qualifications. I don’t think he’ll end up winning this award by season’s end since he’s fully transitioned into Boise’s starting 5, but the 6-foot-8 big is averaging 10.8 points and 4.8 boards in 21.5 minutes and has been a big reason why Boise’s won five of its last six games.
Best team: Colorado State
Skinny: Read the Niko Medved section again. Colorado State’s good—really good—and will be competing for their first-ever MW title.
Let the MW games begin!