The regular season concluded over the weekend and the Mountain West Tournament begins Wednesday, starting with Colorado State and Fresno State at 11 a.m. PT.
The Mountain West announced all of their end-of-season awards voted by the media on Monday, but that wasn’t going to stop us from doing our annual awards!
In total, we had six voters — including myself — participate. Today, in the first part of our awards series, we dive into who we selected to our the first- and second-team. We did not do a third team, like the conference does, but that only makes the selections much tougher, not easier. We also used a three-guard, two-forward format for each team, which the Mountain West does not abide by.
Let’s dive into it!
Guard: Jamal Mashburn Jr, New Mexico
Mashburn led the Mountain West in total points scored (603) and points per game (19.5), including a conference-most 21.0 points in 18 Mountain West affairs. Mashburn improved his true-shooting percentage to 53.7 percent (from 52.4%), but knocked down 39.7 percent of his 4.1 triple tries per game. Even when New Mexico’s late-season collapse, Mashburn was the engine of the one of the most productive offenses in the country.
Guard: Elijah Harkless, UNLV
Harkless didn’t earn the conference’s newcomer of the year award from the media, but his impact was still felt on a nightly basis regardless. He finished second behind Mashburn in scoring on a steady dose of contested 2s and was, by far, UNLV’s most effective scorer at any given moment. Harkless is also an underrated defender, too.
Guard: Omari Moore, San Jose State
Moore was awarded the Mountain West player of the year Monday as the conference’s fourth-leading scorer, but ranked third in scoring (20.7 ppg) in conference play while also leading them in assists (4.9 apg). Moore helped buoy SJSU to its first first-round bye in the MW Tournament in program history.
Forward: Morris Udeze, New Mexico
Very few Mountain West players were more dominant on the glass than Udeze, who earned the Newcomer of the Year award. He led the conference in rebounding (9.4) and was one of five players who finished in the top-10 of KenPom’s offensive and defensive rebounding percentage. He led the Mountain West with 12 double-doubles, including three 20-10 double-doubles.
Forward: Tyson Degenhart, Boise State
Degenhart was one of the MW’s most impactful players, even though he didn’t always light up the box score. He was top-5 in win shares, box plus-minus and made field goals while finishing in the top-15 in scoring, rebounding and block percentage. He also improved his 3-point shooting as the year aged after a slow start from beyond the arc, knocking down 37.9 percent of his 3s in Mountain West play.
Guard: Jaelen House, New Mexico
House finished in the top-6 in both scoring and assists this season. House was New Mexico’s primary initiator both in the halfcourt and in transition, where he was a blur. For the second consecutive season, House — a very good point-of-attack defender — led the conference in total steals with 76, 24 more than any other player (Keshon Gilbert - 52). He recorded a conference-most 41 steals in Mountain West play (seven more than any other player), despite missing two games due to injury.
Guard: Isaiah Stevens, Colorado State
Stevens missed a good portion of non-conference play, which is a big reason why he’s on the second team and not the first. Regardless, Stevens engined a formidable Colorado State offense, leading the conference in assists yet again while averaging 17.9 points on 48/39/86 shooting splits (58.2 TS%).
Guard: Steven Ashworth, Utah State
Despite coming off the bench to start the season, Ashworth was the primary driving force behind arguably the Mountain West’s most lethal offense. He led all MW players in 3-pointers made (100), 3-point percentage (.450) and free-throw percentage (.889), as well as offensive win shares (4.6) and win shares per 40 minutes (.226).
Forward: Will Baker, Nevada
Baker was the lone 7-footer in Nevada’s rotation this season, and it paid dividends for the team’s spacing. He ranked in the top-20 in scoring and rebounding, developing into one of the conference’s most lethal low-to-mid post threats.
Forward: Taylor Funk, Utah State
Both Funk and Naje Smith (below) tied in voting, receiving three second-team votes apiece, so we included them both. Outside of Ashworth, Funk was the primary beneficiary from USU’s high-volume 3-point attack, knocking down 38.0 percent of his 3-pointers, averaging 13.2 points and 5.4 rebounds on the season.
Forward: Naje Smith, Boise State
Smith was one of the versatile defenders on arguably the conference’s best defensive team, but was also one of Boise’s top glue guys. He averaged 9.7 points, 5.5 rebounds, 0.7 steals and 1.1 blocks, but upped his averages to 11-6-1-1 on 54.5 percent shooting, and 39.4 percent from deep in Mountain West play.
We will announce our postseason awards — such as our Player of the Year, DPOY, COY, 6MOY and more — on Wednesday! Stay tuned!