The San Diego State basketball team was picked to win the Mountain West by the conference’s media Tuesday, tallying 22 of 24 first-place votes.

It’s the second year in a row the team was picked to win the conference by the media and the fourth time in the last six years.

Senior forward Winston Shepard was voted as a preseason all-conference player for the second time in his career. He’s the team’s returning leader in scoring (11.1), rebounding (5.3) and assists (1.9).

“We want to be the team, that when they talk about the Mountain West Conference, they talk about San Diego State first,” assistant coach Brian Dutcher said Tuesday during a press conference. “The reason that’s happening is because we’ve had great success over the last couple of years. We’re excited to be picked first and know that that comes with a responsibility.”

SDSU has won the MW nine times and are one of eight teams in the county to have made the NCAA Tournament six years in a row.

Boise State was the only other team in the conference to receive a first-place vote, with two of them.

Pope recognized as one of top SFs in country

While SDSU as a team picked up an accolade Tuesday, sophomore forward Malik Pope also received recognition as he was placed on the 2016 Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award watch list.

Even in limited playing time to start the season, the 6-foot-10 forward showed off freaky athletic ability, breaking out with a 22-point, seven-rebound effort against Colorado State on Jan. 24 last season.

“I think the strides he’s made as a player on the floor is something we’re excited about. He’s getting better daily,” Dutcher said. “That’s the key to a good player. It’s not what we want him to be but what he shows on the floor. I think his game has grown just over the last week.”

Pope is expected to start out of the gate for the Aztecs with the losses of J.J. O’Brien, Dwayne Polee and Aqeel Quinn to graduation.

Even with a small sample size there was talk of Pope possibly entering the NBA Draft after last season and could be a lottery pick for the 2016 NBA Draft.

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