#16 Utah State Men's Basketball 2019-2020 Preview

Utah State Aggies
2019-2020 Overall Rank: #16
Conference Rank: #1 Mountain West
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Coach Craig Smith quickly put Utah State back where they belong among the top mid-majors in the country. Last year the Aggies won the MWC Tournament and tied preseason favorite Nevada atop the conference standings. With four starters returning, Coach Smith will look to take another step forward in 2019-2020. And with an experienced group of newcomers, Utah State has the experience to not only return to the NCAA Tournament, but do some damage once they get there.
2018-19 Record: 28-7, 15-3
2018-19 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Craig Smith
Coach Record: 28-7 at Utah State, 179-91 overall
Key Departed Players:
Quinn Taylor, Forward, 8.0 ppg
Dwayne Brown Jr, Guard, 6.1 ppg
Tauriawn Knight, Guard, 3.5 ppg
Crew Ainge, Guard, 2.8 ppg
Key Returning Players:
Sam Merrill, Senior, Guard, 20.9 ppg
Neemias Queta, Sophomore, Center, 11.8 ppg
Brock Miller, Sophomore, Guard, 8.1 ppg
Abel Porter, Senior, Guard, 5.5 ppg
Diogo Brito, Senior, Guard, 8.2 ppg
Justin Bean, Sophomore, Forward, 4.1 ppg
Klay Stall, Junior, Center, DNP last season
Key New Players:
Alphonso Anderson, Junior, Forward, JC Transfer
Sean Bairstow, Freshman, Guard
Carson Bischoff, Junior, Guard, JC Transfer
Trevin Dorius, RS Freshman, Center
Roche Grootfaam, Senior, Forward, JC Transfer
Kuba Karwowski, Junior, Center, JC Transfer
Liam McChesney, Freshman, Forward
Marco Anthony, Junior, Guard, Transfer from Virginia, not eligible
Sam Merrill and Neemias Queta form a very dangerous inside-outside duo. Merrill, a 6-5 senior, averaged 20.9 points and 4.2 assists per game last season. He is a prolific shooter, but even on those rare occasions when Merrill’s shot is not falling, he will make a scoring impact on the game. Merrill got to the charity stripe 208 times last season and connected on 90.9 percent of those attempts. Queta is a seven-footer who made a huge impact as a freshman last year averaging 11.8 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.4 blocks. It was his emergence that really pushed USU into the NCAA Tournament. With a year of experience under his belt, expect an even bigger campaign from Queta. Brock Miller was another impact freshman last season when he took a freshman Utah State record 198 three-pointers. He made a solid 35.4 percent of those attempts. Abel Porter was a regular starter down the stretch and will be a senior leader on this team and Diogo Brito is another experienced senior who can knock down shots. Justin Bean could step into a starting role beside Queta. The 6-7 sophomore was playing pretty good basketball down the stretch last year. With four junior college transfers, led by forward Alphonso Anderson, and a few talented freshmen, led by big Australian guard Sean Bairstow, Utah State has a ton of quality depth that should take them back to the top of the Mountain West Conference.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 78.6 (43rd in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 67.1 (58, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 47.0 (47, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.3 (10, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.8 (164, 6)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.5 (116, 4)
Free-Throw Percentage: 74.8 (38, 1)
Rebound Margin: 8.8 (6, 1)
Assists Per Game: 17.1 (9, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.8 (159, 6)