SDSU players return, reinforcements arriving
THE GOOD NEWS: San Diego State loses just one starter in center Tim Shelton but reinforcements are coming in bushels. Three major-college transfers are joining the mix and wing Dwayne Polee II (St. John's) figures to make a huge impact. Forward J.J. O'Brien (Utah) could be a starter and center James Johnson (Virginia) becomes eligible at mid-semester. The Aztecs also landed a ballyhooed high school recruit in forward Winston Shepard, who is the top prep player San Diego State has gotten since Michael Cage over 30 years ago.
THE BAD NEWS: Next season is San Diego State's last in the Mountain West and the basketball program is going to take a reputation hit when it leaves the conference for the Big West. The move was prompted by the football program joining the Big East and creates a dilemma for the basketball program. San Diego State will have to toughen it up the nonconference schedule to keep its RPI high due to the many struggling programs that make up the lower-level Big West.
KEY RETURNEES: Guards Jamaal Franklin (17.4 scoring average) and Chase Tapley (15.8) will again be one of the top duo acts in the Mountain West. Point guard Xavier Thames and guard James Rahon also are returning starters and forward DeShawn Stephens has proven to be a capable reserve.
Sophomore G Jamaal Franklin had 23 points against North Carolina State and has nine 20-point outings while being one of the nation's most improved players.
Junior G Chase Tapley scored in double figures 30 times this season and has done so 57 times in his career.
Sophomore PG Xavier Thames had a team-best 128 assists but struggled in the NCAA tournament game with just one assist in 36 minutes.