2023-24 College Basketball Conference Preview: Mountain West Fantasy Outlook

2023-24 College Basketball Conference Preview: Mountain West Fantasy Outlook

This article is part of our Conference Preview series.

The Mountain West Conference is always just on the verge of power conference status while always seemingly on the outside looking in.  The conference hosts a number of teams that have been top tier programs and this season is no exception.  San Diego State and Boise State lead the way for the conference.  The Broncos look to take the lead behind the prowess of power forward Tyson Degenhart.  Degenhart shot 54 percent from the field totaling 14.1 points while pulling down 5.3 rebounds per game.   The Aztecs have a solid roster of players that should gel and perform with the normal team philosophy they exude on the court.  Darrion Trammell and Lamont Butler have the best chance to score double digits.  

New Mexico and UNLV have had inconsistencies and underperformed in recent seasons but are top candidates to dethrone the Aztecs and Broncos.  The Lobos' Jamal Mashburn, Jr. (19.1 points and 3.2 rebounds per game) and the Rebels' top rated freshman, Dedan Thomas, Jr., are just two players that can lead to a changing of the guard.  The Nevada Wolf Pack is the only other team that appears to be a contender with the backcourt of Kenan Blackshear (14.1 points and 4.6 assists per game) and Jarod Lucas (17 points per game) to lead them.   

Matt Bradley's departure hurts the Aztecs but doesn't leave the cupboard bare.  Marcus Shaver, Jr. leaves the Broncos also.  The Lobos lose Morris Udeze and the Rebels lose EJ

The Mountain West Conference is always just on the verge of power conference status while always seemingly on the outside looking in.  The conference hosts a number of teams that have been top tier programs and this season is no exception.  San Diego State and Boise State lead the way for the conference.  The Broncos look to take the lead behind the prowess of power forward Tyson Degenhart.  Degenhart shot 54 percent from the field totaling 14.1 points while pulling down 5.3 rebounds per game.   The Aztecs have a solid roster of players that should gel and perform with the normal team philosophy they exude on the court.  Darrion Trammell and Lamont Butler have the best chance to score double digits.  

New Mexico and UNLV have had inconsistencies and underperformed in recent seasons but are top candidates to dethrone the Aztecs and Broncos.  The Lobos' Jamal Mashburn, Jr. (19.1 points and 3.2 rebounds per game) and the Rebels' top rated freshman, Dedan Thomas, Jr., are just two players that can lead to a changing of the guard.  The Nevada Wolf Pack is the only other team that appears to be a contender with the backcourt of Kenan Blackshear (14.1 points and 4.6 assists per game) and Jarod Lucas (17 points per game) to lead them.   

Matt Bradley's departure hurts the Aztecs but doesn't leave the cupboard bare.  Marcus Shaver, Jr. leaves the Broncos also.  The Lobos lose Morris Udeze and the Rebels lose EJ Harkless.  However, there will be plenty for fantasy players to be excited about this season.  

TOP PLAYERS

Overall:  Nelly Junior Joseph, C, New Mexico

Joseph transfers to New Mexico with a great pedigree from Iona under the tutelage of Rick Pitino at Iona.  He averaged close to a double-double with 14.9 points and 9.3 rebounds and will be a force at 6-foot-10 and 240 pounds.  No player is perfect, but Joseph has great ability and strength to be an early favorite for Player of the Year.  

Others for consideration:  Jamal Mashburn, Jr.-New Mexico; Tyson Degenhart-Boise State; Isaiah Stevens-Colorado State 

Scoring:  Jamal Mashburn, Jr., SG, New Mexico

Mashburn is more of a slasher that can take the ball to the rim or score from outside, unlike his father, an inside force.  Mashburn handles the ball well and his quickness allows him many options to score.  He is an excellent, all-around two guard that is not just one of the best in the conference, but Division I.

Others for consideration:  Isaiah Stevens-Colorado State; Jarod Lucas-Nevada; Nelly Junior Joseph-New Mexico; Jaelen House-New Mexico

Rebounding:  Rytis Petraitis, PF, Air Force

Petraitis is under-the-radar but has the potential to be an all-conference player.  He averaged 6.4 rebounds per game for the second overall in conference.  He also produced 10.2 points per game as well last season.  His tenacity to retrieve the ball is as good as anyone in the league.  He returns as a sophomore after missing a majority of last season from injury.  

Others for consideration:  Robert Vaihola-San Jose State; Tyson Degenhart-Boise State; Eduardo Andre-Fresno State; Luis Rodriguez-UNLV

Assists:  Isaiah Stevens, PG, Colorado State

Stevens is an excellent floor leader for the Rams and makes everything go offensively.  A broken foot sidelined him for part of last season.  He is the Rams all-time assist leader already and should pad his total by season's end.  No one else in conference matches Stevens' ability to dish, as his next closest total is 4.7 from Jaelen House.  

Others for consideration:  Jaelen House, PG, New Mexico; Kenan Blackshear, PG, Nevada

Center:  Nelly Junior Joseph, C, New Mexico

Joseph's numbers speak for themselves as does his physical prowess and presence.  There aren't a lot of true centers in the Mountain West, and it would be worse without Joseph transferring in.  

Other for consideration:  Eduardo Andre-Fresno State

Freshman:  Dedan Thomas, Jr., PG, UNLV

Thomas will bring the floor leadership the Rebels haven't had in some time.  Thomas is a true floor general with all-around skills to bring the team to a real contender again, not just to win the conference, but make the NCAA Tournament.  He'll lead some talented transfers and gel them into an excellent group poised to make their move.  He'll give Stevens competition for top point guard status.  

Others for consideration:  BJ Davis, G, San Diego State; Tru Washington, G, New Mexico

SLEEPERS:

Lamont Butler - San Diego State

Butler is ready to step in for Matt Bradley as both a scorer and leader.  He will be more than defensive player of the year as he leads the offense also to become one of the best all-around skilled players in the conference.  The scoring ability is there.  He has to showcase it now.  

Josh Uduje - Utah State

Uduje is a transfer that scored 13.2 points per game with 3.9 rebounds.  He transferred in from Coastal Carolina to help a depleted Aggies squad.  While he may not end up all-conference, his skills and solid game should make him a candidate and help the Aggies have a chance to still finish higher tan expected.  

Sam Griffin - Wyoming

Griffin is another transfer (Tulsa) that enters as much needed offensive help for a Cowboy squad that lost a great portion of talent and offense.  Bringing his 15.2 points per game and 63 made threes will help build back the offense for Wyoming.  

Others for consideration:  Isaiah Pope-Fresno State; Patrick Cartier-Colorado State; Keylan Boone-UNLV

Transfers:  

Nelly Junior Joseph - New Mexico (See above)

Keylan Boone/Kalib Boone - UNLV  

These brothers are truly a package deal.  They should form two thirds of the Rebel starting frontcourt.  Kalib averaged 10.8 points and 4.9 rebounds per game at Oklahoma State while Keylan averaged 13.9 points and 4.2 rebounds at Pacific.  However, Keylan is awaiting a decision on his eligibility, while Kalib may face discipline for a recent DUI offense -- both are storylines worth monitoring heading into the season.

Jalen Hill - UNLV  

Hill projects highly to be the third installment of UNLV's revamped frontcourt.  He averaged 9.7 points and 5.8 rebounds per game at Oklahoma.  He seemed stifled in the Sooner offense and has a chance to show what he can truly produce.  

Others for consideration:  Jackson Grant (Utah State from Washington); Javonte Johnson (Colorado State from New Mexico)

Top 10 Players:

  1. Nelly Junior Joseph - New Mexico
  2. Isaiah Stevens - Colorado State
  3. Jamal Mashburn, Jr. - New Mexico
  4. Tyson Degenhart - Boise State
  5. Jarod Lucas - Nevada
  6. Keylan Boone - UNLV
  7. Kenan Blackshear, Jr. - Nevada
  8. Jaelen House - New Mexico
  9. Sam Griffin - Wyoming
  10. Lamont Butler - San Diego State

Projected Team Standings:

  1. Boise State
  2. San Diego State
  3. New Mexico
  4. Nevada
  5. San Diego State
  6. Colorado State
  7. Utah State
  8. San Jose State
  9. Wyoming
  10. Fresno State
  11. Air Force

The conference should be a bit top heavy with no one below Colorado State expected to make any postseason play, not of any significance.  It seems like any of the top 5 teams can win the conference.  It will be a fight to the finish to crown the conference champs.  

Projected Team Starting Rotations:

Air Force

Ethan Taylor PG

 Jeffrey Mills G

Rytis Petraitis F

Lucas Moerman C

Corbin Green F

Boise State

Tyson Degenhart PF

Chibuzo Agbo SF

Emmanuel Ugbo F/C

Roddie Anderson III PG

Max Rice SG

Colorado State

Patrick Cartier F

Isaiah Stevens PG

Dominique Clifford SG

Jalen Lake G

Joel Scott F

Fresno State

Isaiah Hill PG

Eduardo Andre C

Mykell Robinson F

Leo Colimerio G/F

Xavier DuSell G

Nevada

Jarod Lucas SG

Kenan Blackshear PG

Tre' Coleman F

Tylan Pope F

K.J. Hymes F/C

New Mexico

Jamal Mashburn. Jr.  SG

Jaelen House PG

Nelly Junior Joseph C

Jemarl Baker, Jr. G

Isaac Mushila F

San Diego State

Lamont Butler G

Darrion Trammell PG

Jaedon LeDee F

Jay Pal F

Micah Parrish G/F

San Jose State

Trey Anderson F

Alvaro Cardenas Torre PG

Tibet Gorener F

Robert Vaihola F

Rickey Mitchell, Jr. SG

UNLV

Jalen Hill F

Keylan Boone F

Kalib Boone F

Dedan Thomas, Jr. G

Luis Rodriguez SG

Utah State

Josh Uduje - G

Jackson Grant C

Darius Brown II G

Max Agbonkpolo F

Ian Martinez G

Wyoming

Brendan Wenzel G/F

Sam Griffin G

Akuel Kot G

Mason Walters F

Kael Combs G

Other College Basketball Resources

Our Fantasy College Basketball Draft Kit is rolling out for 2023-24, so make sure you don't miss the following top features:

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Drumright
Chris graduated from MTSU with a journalism degree and is a college basketball blogger and columnist for RotoWire. He has previous experience with editing and rankings at Athlon Sports.
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