Vandal Nation’s preseason media poll ballot has been submitted, so without further ado, here’s our picks for the Western Athletic Conference’s best players this season.
WAC Player of the Year:
Mac Hopson, Idaho
If the Vandals live up to their billing, Mac’s a shoo-in for this honor. He’s without question the best all-around player in the conference, capable of shooting, dishing, rebounding and defending with equal fervor. Surrounded by a deeper, more experienced cast and paired off in the backcourt with a premiere shooting guard, Hopson has all the tools he needs to lead Idaho to its best season in decades.
WAC Newcomer of the Year:
Steffan Johnson, Idaho
It’s not often that an all-conference performer transfers to another school, so Idaho scored a coup by picking up Johnson. A First Team All-Big West selection for Pacific in 2007-08, Johnson racked up 14.5 points and 4.9 assists per game while shooting 46 percent from the floor and 41 percent from beyond the arc. He’ll be an instant second scoring threat for the Vandals at a position that didn’t produce many points last year. Together with Hopson, he’ll create arguably the WAC’s best backcourt.
Luke Babbitt, Nevada — a Player of the Year candidate if the Wolf Pack overachieve.
Jahmar Young, New Mexico State — can’t leave the WAC’s leading scorer off this list.
Magnum Rolle, Louisiana Tech — the best pure big man in the conference.
Jared Quayle, Utah State — not quite the scorer that Mac Hopson is, but darn close.