Hoops Preview 2009-10: The WAC’s Best Freshmen

13 Oct

Rounding out our preseason class rundowns, we’ve got our selections for the Western Athletic Conference’s best freshmen. Our sophomorejunior and senior picks are also available.

Again, picks are based positionally. We’ve selected only a first team and honorable mentions as it’s tough to judge the freshmen below that threshold. Players are judged on the basis of overall performance and potential team impact.

First team:

G: Chris Jones, San Jose State

In what is a fairly thin freshman guard crop in the WAC this year, the Spartans have found two of the best. Jones, a Rivals two-star selection, originally committed to Fresno State but spent a year at a prep academy to boost his academics. The Bulldogs went elsewhere — their loss is San Jose’s gain. A defensive specialist, the Spartans can well put Jones’ talents to use, as they were one of the conference’s worst outfits on the defensive end last year.

G: Aalim Moor, San Jose State

Nominated for CalHiSports’ All-State team, Moor (another Rivals two-star selection) led St. Mary’s High to the California Division IV title game in his junior year. As a prepster, Moor played mainly as a pure point guard, but the recruiting rap says he has serious offensive potential as well. He may not see much playing time behind the Spartans’ starting point guard, Justin Graham, but depth at the 1 spot is never a bad thing to have. Given San Jose State’s turnover woes, having another soft-touch ball-handler will make coach George Nessman happy, too.

F: Corey Stern, Idaho

A huge get for coach Don Verlin’s rebuilding project, Stern is the best freshman recruit landed at Idaho in many years. A Rivals three-star selection, he turned down offers from Colorado, Wyoming, USF and TCU in favor of joining the Vandals. Rated one of Washington’s top-20 prospects, Stern helped lead Rainier Beach High to a Washington 3A State Tournament appearance in his senior year, averaging 13 points, 12 rebounds and 4.5 blocks per game. For an Idaho squad that was one of the conference’s worst on the glass last season, Stern could contribute big right out of the gate.

F: B.J. West, New Mexico State

With Troy Gillenwater and Wendell McKines down for at least the non-conference season (and perhaps longer) because of academic issues, West will have to step up bigtime for the Newmags not to have a letdown early in the season. Leading his prep academy squad to a national championship and his high school squad to a Louisiana state title, West clearly has the talent to succeed in the WAC. But he’s going to be thrown straight into New Mexico State’s post mix, squaring off against players like Luke Babbitt, Magnum Rolle and Marvin Jefferson who won’t give him any margin for error.

C: Greg Smith, Fresno State

A Rivals four-star selection (the only such player to land on a WAC squad this year), Smith will provide big size inside for a Bulldog squad that could use a replacement for Dwight O’Neil. The recruiting read on him says he’s more developed defensively than offensively at this point, but that’s precisely where Fresno State could use him. The Bulldogs ranked near the bottom of the WAC in almost every defensive statistic, so Smith’s talents can be put to use right away.

Honorable mentions: Sam Hicks, BSU; Jerry Brown, FSU; Darius Redding, LTU; Joe Kammerer, UI; Tyrone White, USU

5 Responses to “Hoops Preview 2009-10: The WAC’s Best Freshmen”

  1. Patrick H October 14, 2009 at 11:34 am #

    It’s hard to argue with your picks, and it’s amazing to see Nevada with no freshman even getting an Honorable Mention. Losing Bjornstad and McLaughlin was disappointing and they’d both be somewhere in the rankings if we had them. But I think Nyeko and Cukic will get more respect come the end of the season than they’re getting from you right now.

  2. Travis Mason-Bushman October 14, 2009 at 11:57 am #

    Jerry Evans would have been at least an HM, if not a First Teamer, if his academics had made the grade.

    And yes, as I’ll talk about in the team preview down the road, Nevada’s going to need big-time contributions from its freshmen this year…


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