Some of the biggest stars west of the Mississippi River played in Mountain West Basketball last year. Who will be the breakout stars this year?
Last season did not go the way many Mountain West Basketball prognosticators would have predicted. Prior to the 2019-20 season, the media unanimously selected the Utah State Aggies to win the conference, and with good reason considering they were being led by Preseason Player of the Year Sam Merrill.
Then, the buzzsaw that was the San Diego State Aztecs emerged from the field. SDSU lost just two games all season – one in conference play – en route to one of the best seasons in all of college basketball behind Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year Malachi Flynn.
Both teams were bound for the 2020 NCAA Tournament after the Aggies upset the Aztecs in one of the best moments of Championship Week. Of course, neither ended up participating, as the tournament was scuttled in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Players like Flynn and Merrill will never be able to test themselves again against the best of college basketball, although they both may get a shot in the NBA next year. Their departures are a few of many that will lead to new breakout stars in the Mountain West next season.
Next season promises to be another good one in the conference, as the league will once again seek multiple bids for the Big Dance. Using next year’s early conference power rankings as a guide, here are the breakout players to watch for from each Mountain West program in 2020-21.