San Diego State finished atop the annual Mountain West preseason media poll, the league announced this week.
According to the voters, the Aztecs, who won the regular-season title last year and finished with a 30-2 record, will earn their conference-record 13th title (regular-season and tournament) in 2021.
The Aztecs garnered 14 of the 17 possible first-place votes, to finish in front of Boise State, the team SDSU defeated in the semifinal game in last season’s MW championship.
Reigning MW Tournament champion Utah State has been picked to finish third in the preseason poll, followed by UNLV and Colorado State.
SDSU has been predicted to finish either first or second in the preseason poll in each of the last seven years.
Matt Mitchell, a senior out of Riverside, also was selected as a member of the preseason all-conference team.
The 6-6 forward became the 34th player in Aztec history to reach the 1,000-career point plateau last season. He currently ranks No. 27 on the program scoring list with 1,085 points.
He returns for his senior campaign as the team’s top scorer (12.2 points per game) and leader in rebounds (154) and steals (34).
Included on the 2021 Julius Erving Award Watch List for the best small forward in DI is our @iammattmitch11. Be sure to vote for him starting on Nov. 6 at https://t.co/zNaZFiHCkM.#GoAztecs https://t.co/5GoXppDSNw
— San Diego State Men’s Basketball (@Aztec_MBB) November 4, 2020
For his efforts last season, he was named a first and second-team performer by the coaches and media, respectively, and was a second-team All-District 17 honoree from the National Basketball Coaches Association. Earlier this month, he was included on the watch list for the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award, the most prestigious distinction for the position.
Derrick Alston, a junior guard from Boise State, was tabbed as the preseason MW Player of the Year.
San Diego State is one of 29 schools to play in seven of the last 10 NCAA Tournaments. They were a shoo-in for the tournament this year, but the NCAA canceled the event as the pandemic took hold.
The Aztecs open the season Nov. 25 against No. 22 UCLA in Viejas Arena.
– Staff reports